Due to the intricate vintage motifs that can be incorporated to the designs, key and padlock tattoos have become a modern classic.
The most common meaning given to these types of tattoos is along the lines of the “key to my heart” theme. Due to this, some couples will get a matching key tattoo to show they have the key to each other’s hearts. There are variations of this such as the woman having a heart shaped padlock and the man getting the key etc. When the “key to my heart” meaning is used, the padlock is often heart shaped.
One overlooked piece of symbolism for key tattoos, is that keys symbolize responsibility. The reason I say this is because I noticed one day how many keys I had. I mad one for my flat, some for the tattoo studio etc. I realized that the more keys I had, the more responsibility I had. So I think that’s a pretty good one!
Padlocks have been associated with romantic notions throughout history, probably due to their links with permanence and security. For a long time heart shaped lockets have been worn with a lock of their partners hair enclosed inside for example.
Both key and padlock tattoos are symbolic of either unlocking something or locking it away. This makes them extremely versatile and easy to attach a more personal meaning to. For example they can represent a secret that you have locked away and left behind or unlocking a new chapter in your life.