Dragonfly tattoos have something mystical about them, they have a fairy tale quality that can be quite beautiful, but in a more offbeat way than a fairy or butterfly image.
They have been somewhat underrated over the years as being too "cute" and "girly". While there are designs out there that do scream 19 year old sorority girl, there are also some that can be taken in a whole different direction.
A dragonfly is one of the most elegant insects. They are about the size that we would imagine a fairy to be, with beautiful, gossamer wings. Unlike a fairy, dragonfly tattoos are not categorically feminine, they have a universal appeal.
Symbolism And Meaning
Here's what a dragonfly represents across different cultures:
- In Europe dragonflies don't have a good reputation. In several European countries they are linked to the devil and evil. They are given names like 'Ear Cutter", "Eye Poker", "Devil's Needle".
- In Japan they have a much better reputation. There the dragonfly is associated with happiness and strength.
- In China the insect represents harmony and prosperity.
- Some Native American tribes used the dragonfly as a symbol in their art. For them it represents swiftness and happiness.
Nowadays, if you ask someone with a dragonfly tattoo what it means to them, you usually get one of these answers:
- Speed: some species reach 60 miles/hour (about 100 km/hour).
- Change and rebirth: a dragonfly lives in the water as a nymph before it splits out of his larval skin to become the beautiful insect we all know. Some of us go through the same process when we enter new stages in our life. Dragonfly tattoos are a good symbol to express this rebirth.
- Good luck
Dragonfly tattoo designs can easily be given a bold tribal look that’s quite masculine. On the other hand, they can also be subtle and sketchy, or elaborate and colorful. Many dragonfly images are both beautiful and ugly at the same time: from far away, it looks like a fairy tale creature, but close up, it’s definitely of this earth.
Here are some ideas you can use in your dragonfly designs. Don't be afraid to think outside of the box or you end up with a tattoo everyone else is having:
- Worded wings: the wings on the tattoo do not necessarily have to be wings. They can be words that represent something significant in your life, like your children's names or a poem written in the wings.
- Photographic wings: you can combine dragonfly tattoos with portrait tattoos by inserting a portrait into the wings. Note that you will have to get a fairly large tattoo to do this because of the detail, but it should be worth the space.
- Sequential dragonflies: you can put some movement in your tattoo by having a series of dragonflies flying on your back, legs, arms, or somewhere where there is a decent length of space. You could have the dragonfly growing to represent growth in your life, or you could just have several of them whimsically floating around.
- The evil dragonfly: who says dragonflies can't have attitude? Give the creature bat wings, or make him a little rough around the edges. You can even make it look like it is gnawing at your flesh.
- Tag-along dragonfly: you can incorporate other flying creatures into your design that tag along with the dragonfly. You could have a small fairy holding onto the tail or some ladybugs riding on the wings. This could add depth to the design and create more movement in the tattoo as a whole.
- A different angle: most people think of dragonflies having a body with two wings on each side. You do not always have to go with a top view though, Get a profile of the dragonfly instead, and you might be able to get a little more creative with its placement. This is perfect if you want the creature to be approaching a flower or something along those lines.
- Psychedelic wings: if you are a fan of color, you could get creative with the color pattern on the wings. That is what makes dragonfly tattoos so different from one another. Make the wings tie-dye for example, or rainbow colored.
Here's a selection of dragonfly tattoo art we like: