Butterflies are among the most popular tattoo motifs in the world, and with good reason. A butterfly tattoo represents freedom, romance, marriage, and natural beauty.
Of course, a butterfly tattoo might mean something entirely different to you - which is why we've compiled some butterfly tattoo ideas to inspire you and help you pick the best butterfly design that's in line with your personal vision.
Butterflies have different meanings across different cultures. In China, butterfly tattoos symbolize immortality, joy, and grace; in Japan, a butterfly tattoo design may symbolize marriage and weddings.
There's also been a real trend toward Aztec or Mexican tribal butterfly tattoos as symbols of remembrance to honor a human soul that has departed.
In the West, butterfly tattoos are often symbolic of new life or new beginnings. A blue butterfly tattoo is said to represent life, good luck, and happiness, whereas a yellow butterfly tattoo represents joy.
Other meanings related to the butterfly tattoo include:
Many butterfly tattoo designs include flowers, especially roses, as it represents romantic love or transformation after a love relationship has come to an end.
Whatever your butterfly tattoo may mean to you, we'll help you find a design and a talented tattoo artist to make your vision a reality.
Butterfly tattoos come in a variety of styles, colors, and placements. Some of the most popular styles you might encounter include:
This traditional Japanese style of tattoo is the perfect way to immortalize butterfly wings on your body if you are looking for a colorful butterfly tattoo.
If color isn't your thing, consider a monochrome design. You can opt for a single-line butterfly tattoo, dot design, or a watercolor butterfly in shades of grey.
If you want to make it seem like a monarch butterfly has touched down on your shoulder, speak to an artist that specializes in hyper-realistic tattoos.
Geometric butterfly tattoos are really popular now, and they can be timeless. They feature geometric elements or combine geometric and floral/natural elements to make them really stand out.
Here are just a few of the most popular butterfly tattoos you can choose from:
This hyper-realistic monarch butterfly thigh tattoo looks like it’s just stopped for a rest. It’s great if you are looking for a pop of color and some drama from your artwork.
This artist used soft pastel colors to create a striking, non-traditional butterfly tattoo that reminds us of vintage wallpaper, dreamy nights and simpler days. The color of the wings are understated, but the pops of color from the black lines makes an impact.
This fineline tattoo by saduniblin is wonky and wonderful, using color and shade to create a striking design. She combines butterflies of different sizes with a simple line drawing of a woman, making it seem as though the butterflies are escaping from within.
Ert DiRosa uses bold colors, lines and perfect symmetry to create this traditional tattoo, reminiscent of Aztec/Mexican artwork.
This dramatic hypnotic overlay adds a psychedelic twist to the traditional monarch butterfly, combining two striking tattoos in one.
Monika.vlc created this design that features multiple, small butterflies. The spaces and colors create a feminine, delicate effect. It’s a great way to commemorate several events, milestones or individuals.
Dotwork is back in style and this bold dotwork design demonstrates why. Using multiple dots, it creates a perfect shadowy, mysterious butterfly for the butterfly lover that has a darker side.
This playful sketch-style abstract butterfly features pentagrams, leopard print and a playful drawing of a butterfly to reflect an unique personality.
If you have a great artist at your side, you can use your butterfly wings like a blank canvas and fill it with anything you like. This tattoo combined images from the moon and galaxy at large to create this dramatic tattoo.
Using an acrylic effect can make the simplest colors shine. It’s hard to pull off, though, so if you make sure you pick an artist that knows what they are doing (see our recommendations below) if you want to emulate these dueling, dark butterflies.
Butterfly tattoos can really go anywhere on your body, because the wings make for great framing. Popular locations include the forearm, neck and back.
The tricep is a good place to explore with drip ornamentation as it will move along with your arm, as per this example. It’s not overly visible and can be covered up easily if you prefer.
Tattooing over the sternum can be quite painful, but very eye-catching and attractive. Sternum tattoos for men are inked directly over the breastbone; for women it follows the natural curve of their cleavage.
The flexibility of a butterfly design makes this a popular spot for this tattoo.
The inner wrist is one of the most popular placements for tattoos, allowing for great visibility but with a much lower pain level than the top or side of the wrist.
Your back is a stable place for a butterfly tattoo, especially between and around your shoulder blades. Your tattoo is much less likely to warp as your weight fluctuates. It’s also a great place to show off your butterfly tattoo design with the right clothing.
Tattoos on the hip flow really well and are a great spot if you are looking for something more intimate and less visible. You can go big or small on the side hip, depending on your personal preference.
Now that you’ve got some inspiration for your next butterfly tattoo, all that’s left is the artist. Tattoos are permanent, so you should treat it like a car purchase and do your research.
Speak to several artists about your needs and vision until you feel confident you found the best ones. We can recommend:
Hopefully, we’ve given you plenty of inspiration for your next butterfly tattoo, but there are lots of design combinations you might want to consider before making up your mind. Have a look at some of our other inspiration pages:
Whatever a butterfly symbolizes to you, albeit it freedom, happiness, luck or as a reminder of someone special, take your time to find the artist and design that represents your unique vision.
A good tattoo artist is someone who takes the time to listen and understand your needs and wants, so don’t be scared of shopping around until you find the right one.