Koi Tattoo Gallery

A.M. Richter
Koi tattoo drawing

The Meaningful Koi

As symbols of good fortune (or luck) and perseverance, koi fish are popular tattoo choices. If you have just overcome overwhelming odds and would like a tattoo to memorialize your inner strength and determination to move forward, a koi fish may be an ideal tattoo choice for you.

Koi tattoo back placement

Koi Symbolism

Koi tattoos can be interpreted in multiple ways. Depending on their color, placement on the body, and style of the artwork, the koi's basic symbolism of good fortune and perseverance can take on additional layers of meaning.

Koi tattoo artwork

Splashing Koi

Legend has it that the koi can swim upstream and be transformed from a lowly fish to a mighty dragon. People choose this type of koi tattoo to symbolize their own progress against the odds and attainment of a dream.

Black tribal koi design

Tribal Black Koi

The black koi is a traditional Japanese tattoo design. The solid black color may symbolize pain that was overcome in the past and memorialized with a meaningful tattoo. In Japan, black koi tattoos are traditionally reserved for men, and tribal variations are meant to impart regional emblems.

Koi tattoo drawing

Twin Koi

Twin koi depicted as a Yin Yang are a particularly auspicious symbol that derives from Asian mythology. Together, they achieve balance and symbolize a rebirth or new start in life.

Twin red koi tattoo drawing

Twin Red Koi

According to JapaneseTattooGallery.com, Red koi tattoos exploit the double meaning of the color red and the symbolism of the koi to emphasize love, high energy, and/or masculinity and matriarchal femininity.

Blue koi tattoo drawing

The Blue Koi

JapaneseTattooGallery.com indicates that blue koi tattoos are a symbol of masculinity. They can also represent reproduction and strength.

Koi dragon tattoo drawing

The Dragon Koi

A tattoo of a koi in the midst of its transformation into a dragon symbolizes its bearer's own personal metamorphosis, according to JapaneseTattooGallery.com.

LTK koi tattoo design

The Outlined Koi

The koi can also be depicted more clearly as an outline, without color or over-stylization. This simple drawing of the koi adds to the clarity and purity of the tattoo art's intent.

Simple koi tattoo drawing

The Simple Koi

The graceful koi can be depicted in numerous styles, including simple, cartoon-ish lines that channel childish innocence and hope into the symbolism of the tattoo.

Black koi tribal tattoo drawing

The Complex Koi

Alternatively, the koi may be depicted not as a simple fish, but as an amalgam of scroll work or tribal patterns. This intricate detail to the graceful koi can be indicative of the complexity of the problems its wearer has overcome or is working through.

Koi tattoo drawing with elaborate background

An Elaborate Koi Environment

Some koi tattoos are surrounded by a complex design that mimics the koi's natural environment. As the koi emerges from the water and kelp, it breaks free of its binds and inner chaos and moves forward on its journey.

Koi amongst kelp tattoo drawing

The Koi Amongst the Kelp

Seaweed or kelp surrounding the koi in a tattoo design symbolizes the on-going struggle of the fish against is environment and the bearer of the tattoo's struggle against his or her problems.

Koi in a lily pond tattoo drawing

The Koi In the Pond

A tattoo of a koi in a lily or lotus pond signifies the stable progress and purity of success. The koi has found a home in a pond and is no longer struggling up a turbulent stream.

Koi back tattoo

Koi Placement

Tattoo placement can be very meaningful; where a koi tattoo is placed on the body can emphasize different aspects of the fish's symbolism.

Back Koi Tattoo

The Koi on the Back

According to KoiHistory.com, "backs are a popular location for koi tattoos." Placing a koi tattoo on the back could be used to symbolize putting past hurdles behind you.

Koi arm tattoo

The Koi on the Arm

Placing a koi tattoo on the arm can emphasize the koi as a symbol of strength.

Koi stomach tattoo

The Koi on the Stomach

In China, fish are a symbol of fertility and unity. Here, the twin koi meeting below the navel for a kiss may symbolize love and fertility.

Koi tattoo drawing

To Koi or Not to Koi

Koi tattoos are beautiful and meaningful, but they are not right for everyone. If you decide a koi isn't right for you, or if you want to get multiple tats, consider cultural tattoo designs or other animal tattoos like Japanese dragons, bears, or dolphins.

A.M. Richter
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Koi Tattoo Gallery