Within the last decade wings have become a popular image for tattoos. While the symbolism can only be ascertained in context, the aesthetic appeal of an avian’s greatest asset is undeniable. The pictures below offer a diverse representation of wing tattoo variations. Let us know what you think in the comment section and thanks for reading.
Wings are often associated with angels and are used to memorialize the passing of a loved one. Here we see the letter J with a wing comprising the top line of the letter. The wearer has decided to mourn the death of someone close to her by adorning their initial with an angels wing.
Wings are arguably the most aesthetically appealing feature of a bird. While a beak and talons are ideal for devouring prey, they don’t flatter the human form. Wings create an effortless back piece for anyone envious of avian flight. Notice how this woman’s tattoo extends past her waist line, drawing the eye to the contour of her buttocks and thighs. Most men will find a tattoo of this nature very attractive, excluding ornithophobics of course.
Wings Used to Frame
While the wings in this tattoo don’t necessarily fit into the theme of love. They do frame the word “love” and add a touch of character to an otherwise cliche tattoo.
This tattoo depicts a small set of butterfly wings meet at the wearer’s spine. An emphasis on shading gives this black and grey piece a rich complexity.
A popular image in modern tattooing is a set of angels wings along the wearer’s shoulder blades. In this tattoo the wings are exceptionally dark, ideally the ink lightens over time to reveal the details of the tattoo, worst case scenario the details are lost in the blobs of black ink.
Who? Who? Who the hell recommended your tattoo artist?
Owls are beautiful, stoic, creatures. However, this owl has a goofiness created by the poorly proportioned feathers and cartoon-like eyes that ruin the appeal of a usually majestic bird.
Give Me All the Cliches, Please
When deciding on a tattoo I advise against cramming a plethora of unoriginal images into a single piece. This tattoo is as cluttered as it is hackneyed. If I am to fathom a guess as to what the tattoo is supposed to convey I would assume it is the wearer’s attempt to profess their love for a flying princess named…Helen.
Man, That Bike Can Fly
Considering I’m not a bicyclist, this tattoo doesn’t speak to me, but I will give the wearer credit for creating an original concept. May her ten speed forever be as quick as a bird.
This tattoo is an ode to the fabled Talaria of Greek mythology. The winged sandals were said to make the wearer as swift as a bird.
Colorful Butterfly Wings
The back is a massive section of skin un-interrupted by the human anatomy. Think of your back as a canvas, you wouldn’t draw a picture in the center of a piece of paper and leave an abundance of negative space around the image. This tattoo uses scroll work and simple shapes in vibrant colors to fill the blank skin in this piece.
The wings look as though they have grown out of her back as the tattoo is accented with blood and rippled skin.
Heavy on the White Ink
Angels are symbols of purity and are most often associated with the color white. While I can appreciate the effort to make these angel wings more angelic, the excessive white ink washes this piece out.
Contouring the Shoulder Blades
While wings of this shape won’t be found in nature, the piece does a good job of working with the shape of the shoulder blades.
Not my favorite placement of a wing, placing a wing behind the ear creates the illusion of having a winged ear, which is of no use to anyone.
Tribal style wings lead to a cross that runs along the wearer’s spine. An interesting twist on a traditional religious symbol.
While I don’t know what this tattoo is supposed to represent I do appreciate the skills of the artist, the line work is sharp, and the shading is well distributed.
These wings were created with a process called scarification. The artist scratches, etches, or burns the design into the flesh of the wearer, resulting in the raised skin you see in the photo.
A Single Wing
A single wing stretches across the wearer’s back and down her arm. Subtle details and great shading give the piece life and create a great example of a good wing tattoo.
Everything but The Angel
The artist’s attempt at a deconstructed angel. This tattoo is like asking for a cheeseburger and being given a bun, lettuce, and ketchup artfully arranged on a plate.
Highly Detailed Butterfly Wings
A set of well-executed butterfly wings. The artist did a great job of using black to accent the piece and make the lighter sections pop.
My only complaint about this tattoo is the shape of the wings. The wings taper towards the top and create an odd perspective like the viewer’s eyes are parallel to the wings.
A set of bat wings with one intact wing and one tattered wing. A well done tattoo and an original idea.
A simple wing, no embellishments, no unnecessary details, just a well done wing.
Tribal Wings with Lion and Wolf
This is a very busy tattoo. The wings and animal portraits are depicted in a black and grey tribal style, while the colored paw tracks almost run the entire length of the wearer’s back. Your design may sound good in theory, but sometimes less is more.
This piece really appeals to me. This immensely detailed tattoo depicts two birds within the feathers of the wings. A subtle, well crafted twist adds an intriguing spin on this piece.
This tattoo is a great example of how details can RUIN a tattoo. Those feathers look more like fur, and those wings could be easily mistaken for fox tails.
Good & Evil
One wing is pure and white, the other is bloody and black, this tattoo is a visualization of the classic good and evil theme.
A tasteful color palette is the hallmark of this tattoo. The colors are complimentary and don’t overwhelm the image, creating contrast, and breathing life into a set of highly detailed wings.
Tasteful shadowing and feathers devoid of outlines make this an enviably unique tattoo.
No, heaven isn’t a tiny bathroom with filthy grout. This angel has descended from the promised land to pose provocatively in the most disgusting of mortal locales.
Insect wings reminiscent of a fly or cicada are noticeably underrepresented in the tattoo world but stand out among their counterparts.
Love is how…
A respectable concept centered around a respectable quote. My only resignation about this tattoo are the feathers. To me, they resemble leaves more so than feathers.
A simple set of wings with a shadow that creates a 3-D effect.
A more feminine representation of mythological winged sandals “Talaria”.
A winged key with well done scroll work, however, the script is a little sloppy and there is no need for the wings to overlap.
A provocatively placed set of wings depicting an angelic wing and a demonic wing.
This artist does a great job of creating depth in the tattoo. The piece is impeccably well done and is the result of an expert tattooist.
Traditional Style Wings
A set of wings depicted in traditional style and coloration. A folksy detail incorporated into a modern tattoo phenomena.
The tattoo is well done although I’m not a fan of the placement.
A third depiction of “Talaria”. Notice how this tattoo utilizes pointillism in lieu of shading.
Well Done Dark Wings
This is an example of a superior dark wing tattoo. The use of negative space creates separation between the feathers.
A wavy depiction of a wing utilizing shading around the curves to fill in the negative space.
The wings attach to the vertebrae of the wearer’s spine and create an air of morbidity.
With minimal shading this tattoos focal point is the contrast between the inked and un-inked flesh.
A stylized set of wings in a style reminiscent of fantasy art.
The Mess in the Middle
The wings look great but the rumpled knot of flesh in the center of the wearer’s back is just ugly.
Skilled and patient placement is necessary to assure the tattoo will look natural when the wearer’s arms are raised.
I find this tattoo unnecessarily intricate, the tight grouping of the white accents make the piece look cluttered.
All of the details in this piece aim to make the tattoo adorable. From the light reflecting off the heart, to the sun rays beaming through the halo, and the shape of the wings. The aesthetic for this piece is “cute”.
Feather Line Work
With so many wing tattoos crawling down backs and arms it is refreshing to see a piece that is exclusively on the upper back, and the line work throughout the feathers creates great depth.
A unique concept and great execution compose this piece. An angel stands before an alter with his wings spread across the back of the wearer.
A simple, well drawn depiction of a wing that runs along the wearer’s bicep.
A deliberately undersized set of wings inked in a cute, cartoon-like style.
This tattoo is straightforward and beautiful. Bold black lines create the entire image; a small wing embellished with a few scrolled lines.
Black composes the entire image with small gaps of un-inked skin accentuating the details.
She Wants Them All
This woman doesn’t know the definition of compromise. When she decided to get A wing tattoo, she decided to get ALL wing tattoos. A set of butterfly wings is layered over a set of insect wings that lay atop a set of bird wings.
This tattoo is less of a wing, and more of a feathered arm.
To the observer the tattoo appears to have invisible lines where the ink stops. While the tattoo isn’t bad, the sharp lines make the piece seem fragmented.
Ink Splatter Wing
A wing with contrasting patterned feathers superimposed over an ink splatter. Even without context it is a striking tattoo.
Dark Wings Revisited
A sepia toned picture of the tattoo we saw earlier.
Uneven Feather Distribution
The wings look they were completed in two different sessions. The feathers and shapes are asymmetrical.
A good looking tattoo using bold, black lines to create the image.
A hour glass adorned with wings symbolizing, “Time Flies”.
An elaborate tattoo utilizing wings and cross images.
Another representation of “Talaria”, placement is the crown jewel of this tattoo as the base of the wing follows the curvature of the wearer’s ankle bone.
Intricate shading breathes life into this tattoo.
A magnificent piece that emulates the natural beauty of butterfly wings.
Every element of the tattoo drives at a “pretty” aesthetic. The best part of this piece is the placement, the wings follow the contour of the wearer’s breasts and accentuate her figure.
We all would like to be as fleet footed as the Greek god Hermes. This tattoo is just a visualization of that desire.
Complimenting the Skin Tone
Working with your skin tone is essential to a quality tattoo. This artist refrained from using an excess of black ink to keep the piece vibrant against a darker skin tone.
Stylized Bird Wings
While bird wings of this shape may not exist in nature they do a great job of complimenting the wearer’s body.
Blue, pink, and purple compose the color palette for this tattoo. The decision to use watercolor splatter around the growth points of the wings is an especially nice touch.
The tattoo follows the lines of the wearer’s pecs and display a talent for shading.
This tattoo is very dense as it is comprised of tightly grouped black shapes.
Full Back Piece
An absolute commitment to the wing tattoo. This wearer decided to utilize his entire back for his wings.
An intensely black tribal wing wrapping around the wearer’s abdomen.
These wings are a combination of butterfly and bird wings. Butterfly patterns decorate the top of the tattoo and lead into feathers at the bottom.
A light handed distribution of blues and purples accentuate this piece and add a feminine touch.
While not an actual tattoo, this piece is a representation of the versatility of a single image in body art.
The center piece of this tattoo is the black star and shield that rest between the wearer’s shoulder blades.
An aggressively styled tribal wing crawls down the wearer’s back.
Less is More
A small, stylized wing on the wearer’s shoulder. The piece is well done and compliments the wearer’s shoulder nicely.
Winged Chuck Taylors
The row of blank feathers in the middle makes the patterned feathers more vibrant.
Time Flies II
Blood flows through the winged hourglass representing the finite amount of time we’re all given on this earth.
Anatomy of a Wing
A realistically portrayed wing is marked with dotted lines and reference numbers.
A rich back piece utilizing symmetry and deep blacks contrasting with untouched flesh.
Simply Well Done
A wonderfully shaded set of wings that follow the curves of the wearer’s back.
A wing with a color gradient displaying the lightest shades at top and darkest at the bottom.
Stunning Use of Color
A masterfully selected color palette warms this piece with soft, complimentary colors. Attention was paid to every miniscule detail in this piece and it shows in the end result.
The right wing is so obviously larger than the left that I’m inclined to believe it was intentional.
Black and Yellow
Highly detailed wings are topped with scroll work colored with a warm yellow.
Very defined lines separate the sections of this splayed set of wings.
The piece is well done but the shape is better suited for a man as the arch near the top of the wings accentuates the wearer’s shoulder muscles.
A set of wings with a traditional art style and black and grey color palette.
The artist’s best attempt at representing what actual wings on a human would look like.
A striking imitation of watercolors composing an abstract wing, a beautiful use of color and ink splatter.