For many years, the compass was the best instrument for directing sailors and other travelers. Designed to indicate magnetic north, a compass was the only tool you could rely on when your path seemed obscured. Before GPS, a compass was all you had to find your way home. It comes as no surprise that maritime veterans would get this classic symbol as a tattoo, but over the years the general population would also come to embrace it.
Compass tattoos are typically drawn with a simplistic design and are usually inked somewhere on the arm. Roses are often drawn with the compass, though most of the time the compass stands on its own. Along with the traditional meaning of geographical guidance, tattoos of compasses have become popular because of their symbolic meaning. Many people get a compass inked on them as a reminder to always look in the right ethical direction.