Wing Tattoos

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A traditional wing for placement on the back

Wing tattoos have become especially popular over the past 10 years. There is obviously a deep symbolism here, but there is certainly more than one kind of wing. With every unique and original pair of wings comes a new sentiment and meaning.

Angel Wings

By far the most popular types of wings in the tattoo world are angel wings. With thousands of meanings, the basic gist for most people is generally innocence or innocence lost. Some fearless inkpads will take it all the way to the hilt, making their entire backs a canvas for larger-than-life, Archangel Gabrielle styled wings. These artful, elaborate and vibrant wing tattoos are often the center of attention wherever they land.

Fairy Wings

Also extremely popular, especially among young women, fairy wing tattoos are not always just cut and dry. These are a fun spin on their progenitor, the angel wing. Often inked with outrageous garden greens and limes as well as lavenders and periwinkles, fairy wings are fun, light and unique; they can often inspire a sense of youthfulness.

Butterfly Wings

Rather than the bird-like angel wings that are all the rage these days, some prefer the wider, more insect-like butterfly wings. Some of these wing tattoos are designed to be exact replicas of Monarch butterfly wings while others are elaborately created original designs you won’t see anywhere in nature. Butterfly and other types of insect wing tattoos tend to be more oval and oblong and generally have ore color than angel tattoos.

Bird Wings

Similar to angel wings because of the plumage, those who have bird wings on their backs are quick to point out the difference — these are generally people who celebrate spiritualism and the unknown powers of Mother Nature. Some of the most popular bird wings are eagle, flacon, hawk and raven wings. Most are a symbol of strength and self-reliance while others, such as raven and crow wings or tattoos of the animals themselves are symbols of a darker world and a potential sign of interest into black magic, voodoo and paganism.

Gothic and Tribal Wings

It is no secret that gothic and tribal art have been rocking the tattoo world for years. The genre of wing tattoos is certainly no exception here. While angel and pixie wings take off among the blue grass and surfer subcultures, goth and tribal tats leave their mark well seen here. Some of the most popular designs are fashioned after clothing in the “goth scene” and some of the clothing in the scene is fashioned after the tattoos. It becomes a question of which came first in many instances.

Popular Winged Animal Tattoos

The most popular animal tattoos in the winged world are eagles, butterflies, dragonflies and of course, the mythological dynamo, the phoenix. While all have different meanings in general and to those who bear them on their skin, the common thread is an idea of freedom, liberty, uniqueness and an ability to literally soar above the rest. In the case of the phoenix, the core idea of resurrection from a tragic event or from a previous life are the most common symbologies.

Celebrity Wing Tattoos

  • Brazilian supermodel Isabeli Fontana has a pair of wings tattooed between her shoulder blades.
  • Actor Balthazar Getty has a family crest with wings in flight on his left arm
  • Socialite Nicky Hilton has a winged heart on her right wrist
  • Singer Amy Winehouse has an Egyptian Ankh with wings between her shoulder blades
  • Hip hop mogul Pharell Williams has wings in flight tattooed on the back of his neck
  • Musician Richie Sambora has a guitar with wings tattooed on his right arm

Get Your Wings

Above all, wings are a sign of freedom. Those who have wings inked onto their skin all have one thing in common — their belief in themselves, faith in the unknown and a true love affair with freedom. Pick your wing tattoo with care. While a hardcore biker tat with wings a’blazing may be appropriate for some, a smaller or understated design may be more you. On the contrary, a full back piece with elaborate details describing the benchmarks of your life may be just what suits you best.

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Wing Tattoos