Some stories and legends have an inexplicable and intriguing way of finding their way into different cultures and traditions, even if separated by time and space. Dragons are one of these anomalies. Equally significant in European and Asian cultures, a dragon tattoo can represent a host of different ideas depending on the style and origins of the design.
Dragons tattoos can look great on a number of different areas on the body, however, we would be lying if we didn’t admit they work best when they’ve got room to breathe (fire, that is). The most dynamic and exciting of dragon designs will be found on the body’s larger canvases, like the back, chest, and upper arm.
The dragon tattoos in this collection cover a variety of approaches, providing a full cross-section of the different styles that can be applied to create a one-of-a-kind piece dedicated to these mythical creatures.
1. Red Dragon Tattoo
Dragons are symbols of strength and power. Combined with the color that represents these same characteristics doubles down on this significance. However, red dragon tattoos are also symbols of good luck thanks to the auspicious nature of the color red in Chinese culture.
2. Japanese Dragon Tattoo
Dragons feature heavily in Japanese folklore, and in turn, have become common elements in Japanese tattoos from the beginning. Representing wisdom, blessings, strength, and powers of good, Japanese dragon tattoos can be successfully applied in a variety of colors and compositions.
3. Chinese Dragon Tattoo
With a similar look to Japanese designs, Chinese dragon tattoos are also born out of the folklore of Chinese culture. Often depicted with long whiskers and lithe, snake-like bodies, these mythic creatures are powerful symbols of good luck and good fortune.
4. Dragon Tribal Tattoo
Eschewing the vibrant colors of other styles, dragon tribal tattoos instead utilize black ink, bold lines, and swirling composition to create unique designs commemorating these most magic of animals.
5. Simple Dragon Tattoo
While dragons provide artists with ample opportunities to create complex and mind-blowing designs, sometimes a more restrained approach is best. In fact, simple dragon tattoos can be just as interesting if properly executed. Try working with your artist to create a tattoo with simple bold lines and splashes of color, to achieve this style.
6. Traditional Dragon Tattoo
Given the origins of American tattooing in the Far East, it is unsurprising that traditional dragon tattoos remain popular examples of the style. Applied using the bold lines and vibrant colors the style is known for, these designs are as eye-catching today as they were fifty years ago.
7. Small Dragon Tattoo
Not every tattoo has to take up massive real estate on your body. In fact, small dragon tattoos are a great way to commemorate the powerful symbolism of these mythic creatures without the need for a massive design.
8. Dragon Tattoo Outline
Sometimes linework is all you need. In the hands of a skilled artist, dragon tattoo outlines can make for unique and impressive designs without bright colors, complex shading, or intricate script work. Any linework tattoo is easy to fill in at a later date, should you decide to add color or shading.
9. Celtic Dragon Tattoo
While in most cultures dragons are considered powerful and magical creatures, in Celtic traditions the dragon is considered fiercer and doesn’t always have the connotations of good luck as found in Asian folklore. This makes Celtic dragon tattoos fiery designs that demonstrate the wearer’s cultural pride and fierce nature.
10. Bearded Dragon Tattoo
While they resemble the mystical creatures that give them their name, these little reptiles make beloved pets thanks to their surprisingly unique and docile personalities. For anyone that has brought one of these creatures into their family, bearded dragon tattoos are a powerful tribute to friendship.
11. Dragon Tattoo Drawing
Almost every tattoo begins as a sketch in an artist’s notebook. For this reason, looking at dragon tattoo drawings is a great way to get some inspiration before choosing your own dragon design. If you are looking to get this style tattooed, talk to your chosen artist about line work and shading options.
12. Blackwork Dragon Tattoo
The beauty about mythical creatures is that when it comes to tattoos, you can create them in whatever image and style you like. For those folks that prefer the ominous look of all things noir, blackwork tattoos are a great choice.
13. Dragon Head Tattoo
There are few things more fearsome than staring head-on at a fire-breathing dragon. Even without the coiling body, gleaming talons of shimmering scales, dragon head tattoos make for some eye-catching designs.
14. Koi Dragon Tattoo
In Japanese folklore, the koi represents perseverance and fortitude while the dragon embodies power, strength, and good fortune. By combining these two mythic creatures into a single design, the wearer is left with a powerful image that holds the symbolic meaning of both animals.
15. Blue Dragon Tattoo
Color is a powerful way to symbolize different emotions and characteristics, so it makes sense that the pigments used in a tattoo can massively impact the meaning behind the piece. Compared to other, more aggressive palettes, blue dragon tattoos represent serenity and forgiveness while maintaining their broader mystical connotations.
16. Haku Dragon Tattoo
One of the most popular and influential anime films, Spirited Away is full of jaw-dropping imagery that tells the story of a young girl’s adventure in a resort for vacationing spirit beings. The main character meets a mysterious dragon that plays an important role in her quest, making Haku dragon tattoos paragon for any fans of this groundbreaking film.
17. Dragon and Rose Tattoo
Dragons are powerful symbols of mystery and strength, while flowers represent beauty, life, and growth. By combining these seemingly disparate elements into a dragon and rose tattoo, varied and complex meanings can be applied to unique and eye-catching designs.
18. Yin and Yang Dragon Tattoo
A symbol that represents the complex nature of life — within all good there is some bad, and vice versa — yin and yang dragon tattoos complimentary, both thanks to their origins in Asian culture as well as the opportunity they provide creative and unique compositions.
19. Jade Dragon Tattoo
Jade represents benevolence in Confucious thought, while the dragon represents fire, strength, and activity. When incorporated into a single design, these divergent meanings allow jade dragon tattoos to represent the endless quest for balance and well-being.
20. Aztec Dragon Tattoo
Known as Quetzalcoatl, this feathered serpent was a primary deity in the Mesoamerican cultures that were exemplified by the Aztec civilization. For anyone proud of their heritage in this ancient culture, Aztec dragon tattoos are a meaningful option that provides endless possibilities for exciting designs.
21. Dragon Sleeve Tattoo
The best designs use the natural lines of the body to accentuate certain elements of the piece and help create more dynamic and exciting work. Dragon sleeve tattoos provide some of the best examples of this approach, thanks to the mythic animal’s long body, complex scales, and the arm’s anatomy.
22. Dragon Back Tattoo
Dragon back tattoos will likely be some of the most jaw-dropping designs you’ll see. The massive size of the canvas really lets talented artist stretch their creative muscles, weaving the dragon’s coiled body across the entire back, building a compelling composition, and taking full advantage of the body’s largest canvas.
23. Dragon Thigh Tattoo
Another canvas that has become popular in recent years thanks to its size and relatively broad shape, the thigh is perfect for big designs that don’t need to be shown off every time you step outside of the house. This makes dragon thigh tattoos an excellent choice for someone that doesn’t want to dedicate their entire arm to a piece but still wants a big, bold dragon.
24. Dragon Forearm Tattoo
For those that aren’t afraid to have a little ink peeking out from under their cuff, dragon forearm tattoos are a good option. A big enough canvas to let an artist create a unique piece but leaving room further up the arm for a different design, it makes sense that so many people choose the forearm for their ink.
25. Dragon Shoulder Tattoo
One of the original placements for ink, the shoulder is large enough to handle a fairly large design, while still maintaining the discretion that many people prefer. If you work a nine-to-five but still want a fire-breathing beast on your side, a dragon shoulder tattoo is the next best investment.
26. Dragon Tattoo on Hand
For some people, discretion is just a word. If you’re like these folks, a dragon tattoo on the hands might be the perfect way to show the world your love of these mythic creatures with a badass design that is sure to turn heads on the street and while paying for your morning coffee.
27. Dragon Arm Tattoo
Full of natural lines and anatomical details, the arms have been popular canvases for millennia. Giving a talented artist plenty of room to work and providing a canvas with massive potential for composition.
28. Dragon Neck Tattoo
If you like bold but hand tattoos are a little too tame, inking your neck might be the best option. While it probably isn’t the best choice if you work in an office, it will turn heads wherever you go.
29. Dragon Leg Tattoo
Another big canvas full of anatomical details that can really bring a piece to life, men’s tattoos provide plenty of different options when it comes to placement and composition. Whether a full sleeve, from ankle to groin or a painful but unique design in the crook of the knee, there is a spot on the leg for whatever you and your artist can come up with.
30. Dragon Chest Tattoo
Not many things can compare to a large, full-color dragon chest tattoo, stretched across your pecs. While you won’t get looks walking around the office, when you pop your shirt off at the gym or beach, expect to get second glances and envious looks.
Dragon Tattoo FAQ:
What does a dragon tattoo mean?
Dragon tattoos are powerful symbols in a number of different cultures. While dragons are often portrayed as fierce, greedy, and violent creatures in European folklore, in Asia they are more often considered benevolent beings that use their magic and power for the good of humankind.
What does a black dragon tattoo mean?
Thanks to the ominous connotations of the dark color, black dragons are often associated with vengeance and storms, floods, and other natural disasters.
What does a red dragon tattoo mean?
In Asian culture, red is generally considered good luck and is an auspicious symbol of good fortune, making red dragon tattoos good luck charms.
What does a Chinese dragon tattoo mean?
In Chinese culture, dragons are powerful magic creatures that are associated with good luck and are usually represented as having power over rivers, streams, and waterfalls.