Dragons are one of the most popular designs for tattoos. These mythical creatures are found in cultures all over the globe and often represent very different things. While all dragons look powerful, majestic, and mystical, they can be perceived as both good and evil, masculine and feminine, and are linked to both fire and water. Depending on the art style, size, and color, a dragon tattoo can be a symbol of fearlessness, rage, passion, or wisdom. They can also represent your favorite dragon from fiction, like Khaleesi’s three dragons from Game of Thrones. So if you’re considering a dragon-themed tattoo, keep scrolling to find the perfect design for you.
Dragon Tattoo Meaning
The meaning of a dragon tattoo depends on its origin. In Eastern cultures such as China and Japan, dragons are kind spirits associated with bodies of water as well as rain and floods. In contrast, Western cultures – particularly in Europe – associate dragons with fire, destruction and evil. However, their fierce nature makes them powerful protectors, and as a result, many warriors – and even countries – have taken the dragon as their symbol. For these reasons, a dragon tattoo can mean whatever you want it to mean. Today, many people consider their dragon tattoo to represent their personality: fierce, bold, and passionate, or mysterious, wise, and calm.
Dragon Tattoo Designs
1. Classic Dragon Tattoo
A dragon tattoo is all about attitude. It’s about capturing the intensity of the dragon with all the classic features – scales, claws, and flames! Depending on the pose of the dragon, this tattoo can be placed anywhere on your body. While the bicep, back, and thigh are all popular spots, the chest and stomach have become a trendy inking area in recent years. This dragon is front and center, so you’ll be able to admire your art every day in front of the mirror. However, it’s also part of your body that can be easily covered with a shirt.
2. Tribal Dragon Tattoo
Tribal tattoos continue to be one of the most popular types of inkings. The black ink and fluid shapes of this art style match perfectly with a dragon design – a Western-style dragon with large wings looks particularly striking. Tribal tattoo art isn’t too complicated as there are no colors or shading involved. As a result, this is also one of the quickest options if you can’t wait for your dragon body art.
3. Floral Dragon Tattoo
Give your dragon tattoo a feminine touch by combining the design with flowers. Adding a soft floral element provides a contrast to the energy and power of a dragon symbol. Popular petal-based choices include peonies – which represent royalty, wealth, and honor in Chinese culture – cherry blossoms, which are a symbol of mortality, love, and beauty in Japan, and roses, which represent everlasting love and femininity.
4. Colorful Dragon Tattoo
Because they are present in legends from many different cultures, as well as in fiction, dragons can be many different colors. The range includes everything from green and blue to red, black, gold and bronze, or even multicolor. If you’re getting inked with a specific dragon, look up the description and base the color of the tattoo on what you discover. On the other hand, you may be creating an original design. In that case, choose your favorite colors, ask the artist for guidance, or go for hues that suit your skin tone.
5. Dragon and Phoenix Tattoo
The dragon and phoenix tattoo is another example of yin and yang symbolism – however, this one comes from Chinese culture. In Feng Shui, the two are considered the most powerful celestial beings that combine to form a perfectly balanced union. For this reason, tattoos featuring dragons and phoenixes often incorporate other symbols of love, like Celtic love knots. Seeing the two creatures together represents a perfect marriage so that the tattoo could be an excellent idea for a couple’s tattoo or newlywed body art with your partner.
6. Chinese Dragon Tattoo
In Chinese culture, the dragon represents power, strength, and good luck. Those born under the dragon zodiac sign are said to be reliable and independent, serious, hardworking, and honest. Chinese art often depicts dragons holding a flaming pearl, which is a symbol of spirituality, wisdom, prosperity, and immortality. If you identify with these qualities or are born in the year of the dragon, consider a Chinese dragon tattoo. The long, snake-like body of the Chinese dragon also makes it perfect for a tattoo on a curved part of your body, like your waist or shoulder.
7. Japanese Dragon Tattoo
Dragons are one of the most popular Japanese-style tattoos. These creatures are often depicted as destructive and terrifying in Western culture. In Japan, they are considered to be generous and wise and use their powers to help people. They don’t have wings and look more like sea serpents. There are lots of art style options for the Japanese dragon tattoo, including the colorful traditional look – known as irezumi – or a more minimalist style.
8. Sleeve Dragon Tattoo
A full sleeve tattoo – one that covers the whole arm, from shoulder to wrist – always commands attention. For that reason, it’s a popular choice for true tattoo enthusiasts. To show off your dragon body art, scale up the design so that it wraps around your forearm and bicep. Japanese and Chinese dragons look great when rendered in this style because they have natural curves that will follow your body’s lines organically. Otherwise, try a collection of smaller dragon tattoos and join them together with more tattoos in a complementary style.
9. Back Dragon Tattoo
The back offers the perfect canvas for a bigger dragon tattoo. You’ll be able to show off all the details of your body art with some ink placed here. Just remember that you won’t be able to look at your tattoo without the help of mirrors! People with back tattoos tend to be bold and self-assured, and their ink usually symbolizes what they consider to be the foundation of their lives. Getting a powerful dragon tattoo on your back shows you have a strong personality and an independent spirit. It’s also a sexy placement for a tattoo.
10. Small Dragon Tattoo
A small tattoo is perfect if you’re going under the needle for the first time – or want to get several dragons inked but don’t want a full sleeve. It is also a good option for those who can’t have visible tattoos at work or have a low pain tolerance. Dragons are fierce and powerful, no matter their size. So every time you look at your small dragon tattoo, you’ll know what it represents.
11. Dragon Koi Tattoo
Japanese legend has it that when the humble koi fish swims up to the mythical Dragon Gate waterfall, it transforms into a giant, fierce dragon. The message of the story is that perseverance has great rewards. In life, if you can overcome the challenges of swimming upstream, you’ll make it to the top. Once there, you’ll become a better and more powerful version of yourself. For those who love the moral of this story, as well as Japanese-style body art, the dragon koi tattoo is a great choice.
12. Celtic Dragon Tattoo
Dragons play an important role in Celtic mythology, and there are many legends about them. They are gatekeepers to other realms and give energy and power to the land. Because of their wisdom and divine qualities, dragons were often depicted on coats of arms in Celtic countries like Wales, which still has a dragon on its flag. In Celtic art, the dragon is frequently shown eating its tail which symbolizes immortality and the natural cycle. For these reasons, Celtic dragon tattoos continue to be very popular to this day.
13. Bearded Dragon Tattoo
Lizards are the closest thing we have to dragons in the real world. That’s why, across many cultures, these reptiles are often said to have the same quality as mythical dragons. They often represent spirituality, wisdom, and fierceness. The bearded dragon is a native Australian lizard. There are many Dreamtime stories about this fascinating creature. It gets its name from the skin on its neck, which puffs up when it’s under attack. A bearded dragon tattoo shows a connection to the land, its native wildlife, and the powerful qualities of lizards.
14. Dragon Ball Tattoo
If you’re a ’90s kid, you probably remember the Dragon Ball Z cartoon. This hit anime series was a major favorite for its crazy storylines, cool mythology, and outrageous characters. In the show, collecting all seven of the mysterious crystal dragon balls will bring an Eternal Dragon to you and grant your wish. Fans of the show can pay subtle tribute to this childhood classic with a dragon ball tattoo.
15. Yin Yang Dragon Tattoo
If you want a tattoo that combines some of the most significant symbols in Eastern culture, the yin yang dragon is a great design choice. Yin and yang are two facets of energy, representing the active masculine and passive feminine. When the two come together – in the yin yang symbol – it represents the wholeness of the universe. Meanwhile, the dragon is also a spiritual symbol in China. It is the perfect tattoo for someone who feels deeply connected to its culture and meaning.
16. Blue Dragon Tattoo
In Chinese culture, the Blue or Azure Dragon is a god. It is associated with the east, the season of spring, and calmness and would make a beautiful and inspiring tattoo. However, a blue dragon tattoo doesn’t have to have a spiritual meaning. If you love the color, opt for an art style that fits with your aesthetic. Blue also contrasts well with red so that a fire-breathing blue dragon would look fantastic in tattoo form. Bear in mind that the color in tattoos tends to fade over time, so make sure you schedule in top-ups to keep your ink looking vibrant.
17. Dragon Scale Tattoo
A scale tattoo – otherwise known as a mermaid scale tattoo – is a unique take on the dragon body art trend. It shows off the bright colors of dragon skin as well as the skill of the tattoo artist in creating the scale effect. The dragon scale tattoo aims to make it look as if the scales are present just below your real skin. It’s a tattoo that hints at your inner power and shows others that there’s something mystical and wild within all of us.
18. Dragon Tiger Tattoo
The combination of dragon and tiger is significant in Buddhist culture. The two animals represent opposing forces: the tiger is masculine, while the dragon is feminine. One represents active power, while the other represents passive power. For this reason, the dragon and tiger are often combined with the yin and yang symbol in art. If you get a tiger tattoo, it will represent the harmonious balance of two completely different forces, linked by destiny.
19. Flaming Dragon Tattoo
In Western culture, dragons are associated with fire. It represents the mystical creature’s immense power and ability to both create and destroy. The flames also represent passion, desire, and the unstoppable forces of nature. If these qualities represent your personality, you could incorporate those elements into your dragon tattoo.
20. Dragon Eye Tattoo
A dragon eye tattoo is one of the boldest and most striking inkings you can get. Fierce and reptilian, dragon eyes immediately command attention because human beings naturally seek out eye contact. For this reason, the dragon eye is not a tattoo for the faint of heart. It can be a very intimidating piece of body art, so placement is essential when you decide to get one. Creating a realistic dragon eye tattoo takes a lot of skill as it requires precise lines as well as color and shading. Choosing an experienced artist with a proven track record will mean you get a vibrant and eye-catching tattoo.
Dragon Tattoo FAQs
Are dragon tattoos bad luck?
Dragons can actually represent good luck; however, in Chinese culture, it's regarded as unlucky to fill in the eyes of the dragon before the tattoo is complete and its soul intact. The eyes are considered the window to the soul, and filling them first will cause the dragon to feel the pain of the needle and ink.
How long would a dragon tattoo take?
How long a dragon tattoo takes will depend on the size of the design. It can take a few hours for a small to medium-sized depiction and up to a few full-day sessions for large artwork, such as back, chest, or sleeve.
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