Have you ever seen a piece of body art that looked so fabulous that it almost looked life like? There are certain animals and images that almost beg to be tattooed. One of these creatures is the raven. Ravens have sleek, black lines and dark beaks that extend from the face and are a staple of folklore and literature. Their eyes poke at you with an unsettling feeling and their wingspan is large and wild. They create this overall presence that is somewhat creepy and knowing. The aesthetic they represent takes them from being just some old a bird to being something majestic. They are a bit fierce and have a commanding presence that makes most people take a second look when they see it. It is for these reasons that raven tattoos are so highly popular in body art.
The following outlines some of the ways in which these birds function as pieces of work on the body. There are so many different options to choose from for your next design so scroll through and see what stands out to you. There is the traditional raven tattoo that is black and perched on a shoulder or there are other variations. As you’ll see, there are birds on trees, surrounded by other imagery or mixed into a setting with words. See what stands out to you and as you consider what you’d like your raven tattoo to look like, keep in mind that creativity is part of the fun in designing tattoos. Think outside of the box and make your original!
But, before considering getting a raven as your next tattoo, it is important to delve deeper into the meaning behind these beautiful creatures and what they represent, especially when they’re tattooed on the body. The raven can obviously mean anything you want it to, but there are significant things it means in literature and folklore that’s hard to ignore.
This tattoo is long as it extends the length of the arm with the beak coming over onto the pectoral muscle. It’s wings are powerful and it’s face menacing which creates a look that is intense yet beautiful. It also demands to be recognized as it extends the length of the arm. This is definitely one piece of art that people will notice and comment about, especially since they can’t see the face of the raven if you have your shirt on.
This design is less threatening as the raven sits among beautiful flowers on a tree branch. It’s more of a calm and welcoming design. It’s perfect when paired with tank tops, tube shorts or bathing suits and can be easily hidden for a working environment that doesn’t encourage visible tattoos.
This tattoo has the bird appearing to be either in flight or taking off. It represents freedom and the release of heavy burdens as it ascends into higher places. It’s elegant when matched with the other foot and the beautiful script tattoo.
The next few vary in design and fluctuate between fierce and seductive.What do you think? Would you rather have a raven on your arm or down your back?
Notice the red that meant as a shock factor as it is blood. What do you think this piece represents? It’s the length of her back and is quite intense in nature. Though it is quite large, it would be easily hidden for a working environment which is the best of both worlds. She is able to have quite a lot of skin covered yet she’s able to conceal if need be.
This art appears to be crying out in desperation. It’s as if he is screaming for some sort of release or breakthrough. The hints of pinks and reds just adds to the overall emergency of his call.
What They Symbolize
The raven is mysterious and ominous. It is also sleek and mischievous and tends to be the bearer of bad news amongst tragic and cold situations. This is the essence of the raven and what it symbolizes in most western countries where the birds are seen as the angel of death in flight. There is something mysterious and haunting about the raven which can be depicted quite well in tattoos by well trained artists.
Yet, not everyone will agree that this is the only reason for the tattoo. Different cultures see it as a symbol of goodness and even purity. There are some unique aspects to ravens including their monochromatic yet gleaming blackness that make them a popular options that depict purity. For that reason, there is no way to directly understand a raven tattoo unless there is a conversation about a particular piece. Most people have a reason or a story behind every tattoo on their body so the next time you see someone with a raven, stop and ask what it means to them.
The following seems to take on the first description above about death and remembrance. From the skeleton body to the raven looking upward, all of it points to passing on.
The words “Nevermore” could mean a plethora of things but mixed with a raven, one has to wonder if perhaps the artist is describing a scene where someone has passed on and it’s in remembrance of them. Or maybe it’s about an old habit or addiction that has been destroyed and is no more. There’s a passion and sensuality to this tattoo that reveals an underlying message.
This extends from right below the bicep all the way down to the wrist. It’s bold and intricate in detail revealing attention to every facet in the creation of this piece of art. The piercing eye seems to be looking up but after another glance, it almost looks as if he’s looking at you.
The look in this raven’s eye is a bit crazed! His talons are closed but feel like they could open at a moment’s notice and snatch it’s unassuming prey right up!
This tattoo seems to be a little less frightening in that it’s sitting on a pine tree and pines often signify creativity and life. Perhaps he’s doing a contrast between life in death. The bird seems weathered and older which could point to wisdom with age.
These two looks to be in flight towards the heavens. It begs the question if maybe the artist was trying to convey a message or homage of those who have gone before him. The blue in the clouds appear to be calming although there seems to be some rumbling thunderclouds in the distance.
One great idea for a raven tattoo is to show the bird with its arms outstretched and soaring above. People often utilize the bird in flight in this position as a side or back piece. The details are in the feathers and in the wings of the bird that can reach clear across a back if so desired. Some of the most popular and most intricate raven tattoos include other elements that are not even bird related. For instance, a popular option in the open wing tattoo will include flowers or trees or some stark contrast in color to the darkness of the wings. This creates a depth and movement as the bird looks like it is flying through or above something. It creates a variation and causes the eye to take in all the beauty of the art. The attention to detail is painstakingly clear and should be noticed and honored.
The design below is powerful. The bird appears to be about to take up its prey for a feast. It’s also paired with the full length arm tattoo which creates balance on the body.
This picture depicts innocence and purity. There is something so lovely and welcoming as they two birds mingle and chirp.
The artist chose to embody pinkish tones as the major color with hints of black as the undertones. It’s a different variation than a normal raven tattoo but it gives it a gentler, calmer overall look.
Upon first glance, do you notice that this is a raven? What do you see when you first look?
Notice the blue in contrast to the black. What do you think about the added color? The raven looks mad, as if he is trying to escape from something. even the curl by his head emanates a fierceness.
It appears that this bird represents breaking out of the cage that’s held him back. If you chose this tattoo, it could signify breaking free from addiction or something that has made you feel trapped.
Taking flight can mean so many things. This bird appears less threatening and more free in its ascent even though his face is a bit menacing.
Such a gorgeous work of art. It’s bold yet subtle in color with the splashes so uniquely placed throughout both forearms.
The traditional wrist tattoo with a bird among branches. It’s fun and easy to look at and would be a great conversation starter.
Another popular option in raven tattoos are those that involve the bird in a seated or resting position. A stark black bird with claws that retains a dark or yellow tint can be a great piece because they are more realistic. They appear deeper into the body which gives them a lifelike quality. Staring into the raven’s eyes, can lead to an almost majestic experience. It takes an excellent artist to create a near movement of the bird in this position.
The stationary position is a popular option for both men and women, with the dark features being a statement piece in anyone’s repertoire of body art. For that reason, if movement is not what you seek, consider the stationary glimpse of the bird as an option for your raven tattoos.
This seems somewhat ominous as if saying that days are numbered by the passing of time.
Here, the bird is paired with a warrior, depicting a scene of war and struggle.
Perched on a branch, the raven appears to be calling out, creating a look that seems to be making an appeal to the onlooker. The green and blue hues depict a more calming setting than if they were red or another dramatic color.
A different look with blues used instead of the traditional black.
A flock flying amongst a skull appears foreboding as though they know something the rest of us are not privy to yet.
Raven tattoos also often depict birds as they are flying across the sky in a group or in a pattern. These birds can be impactful singularly but may make quite the statement you may be seeking as a group. There is something very ominous and yet powerful about a group of mysterious birds flying in circular patterns in upward or downward spirals. This design may stand alone or it may include images of flowers and trees like the aforementioned open winged version. Paired with a different image can create a message or inner feeling that you are trying to convey. Have you considered another image that you might pair with your raven design?
Though you can create and design a tattoo that meets your nearly every want and need, the raven tattoos tend to stay on the dark side of the palette. There are great options in designs that can incorporate color but, overall, the bird is likely to be as dark as it is in reality. This is great for those that want to stick with a black and white theme or who are looking for a subdued but powerful piece. You can definitely add light and use your skin as the backdrop with just black outlining the shape of the raven but most people who choose this tattoo are looking for the black coloring of the raven to depict an inner feeling they are trying to convey. What about you? Would the raven represent something dark or something pure? Do you think you’d like to have a raven as your next piece?