The Meaning Behind My Tattoos

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Eva Amurri Martino shows off her tattoos and the meanings behind them

I get so many questions about the meaning behind my tattoos– and I guess they’ve been a part of me so long that I kind of forget about them! Ha! While all my tattoos represent things that are very personal to me, what I’m proudest of about my tattoos is that a lot of thought went in to each and every one.  I thought about and planned all of my tattoos for 9-12 months before going through with them, and really made sure I wanted them on my body!

Eva Amurri Martino shows off her tattoos and the meanings behind them

People without tattoos sometimes ask me if I ever get worried about wishing I hadn’t gotten any of my tattoos, or about making such a permanent decision.  The way I look at it, there is something really beautiful about committing to something in the moment, and then knowing that no matter what you think about it twenty years from now, it’s a valuable part of your story.  And as somebody who is very Type A and has a hard time taking things lightly at times, it’s a great reminder that ANYTHING on your body doesn’t make you who you are or take away from you in any way. In the words of the French, “C’est La Vie!”

Eva Amurri Martino shows off her tattoos and the meanings behind them


The tattoo on my right wrist was my very first! It says “Conscientia” which is the latin word for “conscience”.  Pinocchio was the first movie I ever saw and loved as a child, and the phrase “Always let your conscience be your guide” from the movie has always resonated with me.  I have always felt things strongly in my gut and part of my journey personally has been about trusting myself and my intuition.  When I was 20 years old I decided to get the word Conscience in latin because it is the root of all romance languages, which are dear to my heart.  More than anything, my tattoo reminds me of the personal growth journey I’ve been on since my twenties and makes me proud of where I am today.

Eva Amurri Martino shows off her tattoos and the meanings behind them

Eva Amurri Martino shows off her tattoos and the meanings behind them


On my forearm, I have a long string of roman numerals.  The first set, I got in 2011, and says my wedding date (10/29/11).  The second set I got a couple of months after Marlowe was born, and says her birth date (08/09/14). I’m adding to this tattoo next week! I can’t believe Major has been here almost two years now without his birthday on my arm! I guess that pretty much encapsulates Second Child Syndrome.  LOL.  I’m finally putting his birthday there and completing my string of important dates!

Eva Amurri Martino shows off her tattoos and the meanings behind them


On my left ribcage, I have my favorite tattoo of all: my humming bird! I have always loved hummingbirds and been drawn to them, almost as a spirit animal type of relationship.  Sometimes during very trying times in my life, I’ve been visited by hummingbirds, or had powerful encounters with hummingbirds– and I truly feel that it’s my angels telling me that everything is going to be ok.  I wanted to get a hummingbird tattoo, but I wanted something very graphic and simple.  I decided to take my cues from photographs of hummingbirds, and to do something that almost looked like a backlit photograph.  I absolutely love how it turned out! Out of all of my tattoos, this one was the most painful! It took two and a half hours to complete, and I sweat through all of my clothes from the pain of it.  It was wild.  All in all, it was so worth it!

Eva Amurri Martino shows off her tattoos and the meanings behind them

I definitely plan on getting more tattoos in the future, but I still don’t have any ideas for what they’ll be! Do you have tattoos, and if so, do you plan on getting any more?

Eva Amurri Martino shows off her tattoos and the meanings behind them

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Photographs by Julia Dags.

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  1. Anne says:

    You should get a tattoo of a ladybug since there was one that wouldn’t leave your side during the birth of Major.

    08.06.18 Reply
    • Liz says:

      Wow that was going to be my comment too! On the arm where it landed would be such a cool story to go with it

      08.06.18 Reply
    • Rachel says:

      Woah I got chills

      08.06.18 Reply
    • I’ve thought of that! And would be so sweet. Here’s my dilemma: I don’t want to get any tattoos with color in them, and I don’t really feel that a lady bug is as identifiable without the color. I don’t know, what do you think?

      08.06.18 Reply
      • Anne says:

        I feel like there’s a way to go about it without the color. Just a simple outline of a ladybug. It’s so cute, simple, and meaningful.

        08.06.18 Reply
      • Andrea says:

        There are black ladybugs with red spots. You could get a black ladybug and keep the spots without ink- but it would have to be done just right else it would look like a spot. Or you could just do the outline. If it was delicate and clean enough I don’t think color would matter. I see the dilemma. Maybe the word ladybug/ladybird in Latin? Google says Ladybugs mean good fortune, delight, happiness, protection, and vibrant living. All good things!

        08.06.18 Reply
    • Andrea says:

      That’s what I was going to mention!

      08.06.18 Reply
  2. Katie says:

    I got my first tattoo this past May. A tattoo has been in the back of my mind for like 10 years but I never knew exactly what I wanted or where I wanted it. This spring I was finally like ok I know what I want and where. I got a script letter C woh a small heart on my left wrist for my almost 2 year old daughter Charlotte. I love it. Also, it’s true what they say once you get one, you kind of want more.

    08.06.18 Reply
    • Pretty! Oh my word, don’t I know it– I got my second tattoo like two months after my first! LOL

      08.06.18 Reply
  3. Shannon says:

    Love the NIKE pants! So sad I can’t shop them anymore xx

    08.06.18 Reply
  4. Laura says:

    I have a fair few tattoos. On my feet (because they keep me grounded and give me roots) I have – on one a celtic family mother / son knot, for my first child, and on the other I have a purple owl, for my second child.
    I have a double heart on the middle finger of my right hand, a floral band around my right wrist.
    I have what I hope is the chinese symbol for strange on my left ankle (this was my first tattoo, and chinese symbols were all the rage) On my right ankle I have the symbol for the summer camp I worked in. I was not the best staff member, but they gave me the best opportunities, and I got a lot of wonderful experience, and a lot of love, which I appreciated more after the fact.
    I have a gecko on my back, which was done in Amsterdam, and is in some magazines, as the artist tried out a new technique, I have very good skin for clear tattooing. It was a gift from a girlfriend, like permanent jewellery.
    I have a band of roses around my right nipple, which I got when said part was also pierced. Again, it was a chance for the artist to try some new colour work, and looks awesome, and is something only very few, very close people actually see.

    08.06.18 Reply
  5. Thinking of getting my first two tattoos at the same time soon. I really love single-needle tattoos because they look so delicate. I’m afraid of the pain but I’m excited to finally do it!

    08.06.18 Reply
    • Like I always say when it comes to chilbirth– the pain is really momentary when you think about how long the result lasts! 😉

      08.06.18 Reply
  6. Erika Lanning says:

    I have 14 tattoos. I never EVER thought I would utter those words! haha… and they are all ones that can be hidden. If you looked at me, you would never think I had that many. Like you though, there isn’t one that I have where I haven’t thought about it hard and long. They all have special meanings to me <3

    08.06.18 Reply
    • I think I may be on my way to that number myself– my hubby who told me he was “never getting a tattoo” has double the number that I have already! LOL

      08.06.18 Reply
  7. Glenda says:

    Thank you for addressing your tattoos. I’ve asked in your stories 🙂 Love it… love the meaning. I got my first tattoo 12 yrs ago (2 yrs after my mom passed) It’s a double heart with vine for the my two fav ladies ever! One heart is purple for my mom (her fav color) and the other is green (my daughters fav color) I also have an open heart in the inside of my ankle. If you keep your heart open to love, love will find it’s way IN.

    08.06.18 Reply
  8. Heather says:

    I just got my first tattoo in March…at 37! I also have a Latin phrase: latest scintilla forsan. This translates to “a small spark may remain hidden.” After some tough times in my late twenties & 2 miscarriages, this reminds me that I can keep moving forward. And as a bonus, my maiden name is Sparks.
    Thank you for sharing yours!

    08.06.18 Reply
    • wow so cool I’ve never heard that one before and love it!

      08.06.18 Reply
  9. Erika says:

    I have only one for now. It is my son’s name written in his kindergarten handwriting. It is so special because my son passed away 3 years ago.

    08.06.18 Reply
    • Oh wow. I’m so sorry for your loss, Mama. What a beautiful way to stay connected to him xoxoxo

      08.06.18 Reply
  10. Mallory Lepak says:

    I have 3.. the first one I ever got was a spur-of-the-moment decision. I just turned 18 and had to rebell, it was the stupidest decision ever and the ugliest thing. It’s two hearts right on my left boob.. Sigh. Luckily it’s small, about the size of a nickel. Lol

    My other two are much more meaningful and I love them!! I have my son’s newborn left footprint on top of my left foot with his name. And on my right foot I have my daughter’s newborn right footprint and her name on top of my foot. I can’t imagine how painful your rib cage was to get tattooed. The top of the foot is all bone and it was extremely painful as well. But worth it for sure.
    Thank you for sharing. I love the stories behind other peoples body art!!
    Xoxo Mal

    08.06.18 Reply
    • I think most people kind of regret that first ink! LOL. Those footprints sound sweet though! xoxo

      08.06.18 Reply
  11. Tracy L says:

    I have a small shamrock that I got for my 22nd birthday on vacation in Seattle. To be honest, I hadn’t really liked it the last few years. Luckily since I had my third baby, I now feel like each leaf stands for a son and I love it again!☘☘☘

    08.06.18 Reply
  12. Katie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I have always wondered what your tattoos meant it’s so nice to hear the stories and meaning behind them. I have one right now and I have been planning and thinking about my second now that my family is complete with my second daughter arriving in April!! I have a small bird on my left foot, I went with my younger brother, he had joined the Coast Guard and got to sparrows diving down to represent how many nautical miles he had sailed and I got a bird flying forward to remind myself of the struggle I have and still face with anxiety. It meant so much to go get one with him!

    08.06.18 Reply
  13. Jamie Palmer says:

    Hey Eva
    I have a penguin tattoo on my left fore arm. The penguin is holding a balloon. It represents the journey I have been on with adopting a child. I had a little baby big for 3 months but a family member stepped forward and he left us. The tattoo reminds me that no matter what the love I have and gave to our sweet baby boy and what he gave us is always with me and with him.
    I’m happy to say we are now very close to finalizing our adoption with a little girl . I’ll be adding a tattoo for her soon 🙂

    08.06.18 Reply
  14. Meg says:

    I have 3 tattoos, my first I got after my mom passed away it is on my foot and says “Life’s a dance”… my favorite memories of my childhood are my parents dancing around the house. My second tattoo is coordinates to where I live, where my family is from… where my roots are. My 3rd tattoo is of flowers 1 peony and one dahlia I want more black and grey botanical flowers.

    My next tattoo will be for my Dad who is fighting Cancer right now I will be getting “your daddy loves you” on my forearm in his writing ❤

    08.07.18 Reply
  15. Anya says:

    I love hearing the stories of people’s tattoos!! I have two and am going in to have my second one finished today!

    My first is a sunflower on my right foot that has vines coming off of it. The vines spell out ‘Rae’ which is my childhood best friend’s nickname. She is no longer with us and I’m actually writing my memoir to her! Shameless plug: see me on Instagram anyawyersauthor to follow me as I write and publish my story!

    I got my second tattoo on the inside of my left wrist. The outline of a heart for my husband and a small black heart for my first son. I have since given birth to my second son and now that our family is complete I’m going today to get a second heart to finish the piece!

    Like you, I also had a miscarriage in between the births of both my children. I am going to get a small butterfly today for that loss. ❤️ I’m excited! I say I’m done after today, but you really can never say never!

    08.07.18 Reply
  16. Margo says:

    I have 7, and my favorite 2 are the words dum Spiro spero which is Latin for while I breathe, I hope. I saw the quote in a book and fell in love with it. It’s on my right forearm and it’s a daily reminder that as long as I’m living, I’m able to make the best of every situation. My other is a Phoenix with spread wings, on my right wrist, which I got in dark purple after my open heart surgery, which gave me a new lease on life. Looking at the Phoenix reminds me that I Rose from bad health to good health after the surgery. I plan to get my daughter to be’s name after she is born, and one day I’d like to complete a sleeve on my right arm! Thanks for sharing the story of your ink! ?

    08.07.18 Reply
  17. Mary says:

    When we were 17 my bff and I were super (naively) excited to go and have our first tattoo.I never thought that for (many) older people, like our fathers for example that was a big NO so that’s exactly what we got : no tattoo whatsover.I was very very disappointed and actually I got such cold feet for tattoos that I totally gave up the idea and never have I desired again a tattoo not even when I earned my own money.I guess if I did had a tattoo in the age of 17 it would probably be something rather stupid that I would regret but still…

    08.08.18 Reply
  18. Deanie says:

    I have 1 so far. I waited until I was 37 to get it. It’s a cross with a Star of David. It represents my godmother, who was Jewish. The old and New Testament. I am going to get another one for my daughter. Still working out the design. She wears hearing aids so I want to incorporate that into the design.

    08.14.18 Reply
  19. inanx says:

    Oh no! That latin phrase was misspelled. It should be:

    lateat scintillula forsan

    Which roughly translates to: “a small spark may perhaps lie hid”. — motto of the Royal Humane Society in England. (Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned)

    05.10.19 Reply
  20. Maria says:


    I have a buoy in rough water no color on my wrist to remind me i may go under but I always bounce up and stay afloat

    01.14.21 Reply
  21. Marissa says:

    Are you planning to add a date for Mateo or something else in his honor?:)

    01.14.21 Reply
  22. Lis says:

    Hi Eva . I remember asking you about your tattoo years ago and I loved the Latin meaning. I have five tattoos and plan on having more . I’ve got my nephews name and I need my other nephews name . I’ve got a swallow on my wrist . I’ve got a treble clef next to a butterfly with the words listen and breathe. I love and connect with music and I went through a stage of terrible anxiety and even though I’m past it that saying goes in any situation. One of my favourite is I have que sera sera on my arm I love Doris day I love that song and that song is my life motto it just rings true. Lastly my first ever tattoo when I was 18 I’d love on my back in small writing. My friends and I wanted a word each that really meant something to us and that will always be so meaningful. ?

    01.15.21 Reply