Wolf tattoo designs are some of the most popular in the world. There are so many different ways to express the power and enigmatic qualities of the wolf through permanent body art, and many cultures have done so across the world. The fact that wolves can present a “leader of the pack” quality as well as a more down-to-earth vibe leaves them as one of the most prevalent animals in any kind of tattoo art.
The styles of wolf tattoos you can get vary widely, and depending on the type of look you’re going for, you’re going to have a lot of options. Since wolves are a popular study subject, many different styles have evolved over the decades to provide inspiration, so you’re never going to run out of examples. Some initial ideas include:
- American Traditional
- Stylized from a film or video games (Illustrative)
The long history of the wolf as a spirit animal and powerful, enigmatic creature is an inspiring one, starting with Native Americans and ending with the contemporary culture’s need to look at the past for spiritual inspiration.
Wolves in American Tradition
Our first connotation with the wolf as a spirit animal typically coincides with Native Americans, whose animal tattoos have long fascinated art enthusiasts. The type of tattoos associated with this ethereal creature offer a more natural approach to showcasing power, whether physical or emotive. A tribal wolf tattoo most adequately shows this; a sort of primal and simple design that lends to a powerful presence. Since the nature of wolves is that of both social and solitary creatures, it’s easy to see their two-sided nature in aesthetic art.
In American tradition, wolves have been seen as predators and vermin, attacking helpless livestock and causing all manner of trouble for farmers and country folk. They snuck around in the dark, looking for ways to get around the traps and triggers of hunters. Yet, in modern times, the wolf has come to be seen as more of a “survivor” type, making us imagine men and women with the power and fortitude to meet any challenge. As such, we can see a lot of the wolf in tattoo art for those who have overcome a challenge or are still facing one, so that they may have the same tenacity as the predator of the past.
Our modern perception of the alpha wolf is one that lends much inspiration in tattoo art due to its tangible power. The alpha works in conjunction with its mate in order to keep the peace within the pack, ensuring that everyone is safe. This connotation with family is rooted in Native American tradition also, something that is important to note even in contemporary times. As a totem or spirit animal, the wolf carried a person through life and helped them through tough times, keeping that primal tenacity alive.
Wolves in Popular Culture and Art
Dreamcatchers and headdresses that exemplify the natural quality of the wolf are very popular in contemporary tattoo culture, as they offer a way to capture the free spirit of the wolf, lone or otherwise. Since many people today are detached from the sort of “natural” way of life, living in cities or suburbs, wolves take us back to a time when life was simpler and less abstract. This free-spirited nature is attractive to a younger demographic of art enthusiasts who want to show their ties to the land and nature in general.
A popular modern version of the traditional wolf tattoo is one that includes a moon in the background, often with three of the creatures in front of it howling. This type of symbolization expresses a lot about the bearer, from a free spirit to a down-to-earth, friendly quality. A wolf head facing the moon can be an incredible aesthetic piece, as it shows the solitary wonder of the wolf, but also the need for connection with others. Oftentimes, this is accompanied by a galaxy-style set of stars or space to further the cosmic qualities of the piece. Blue and purple colors in contrast with grey wolves are often the basis for these “howling at the moon” tattoos.
Wolves with blue eyes are portrayed as even more enigmatic than the rest. In nature, wolves never have blue eyes, but rather shades of yellow or amber. In popular culture, the wolf with blue eyes is seen as a ghost, something mysterious and possibly all-knowing, rather not existing at all. This type of wolf is popular in movies and video games, where characters with this mysterious personality take precedence over the others, who may seem plain or otherwise “uninspiring”. Despite the wolf’s connotation with its pack, there is much to be said about the lone wolf or standout, one that walks alone.
No matter what type of wolf style you are looking to get, each one carries a unique perspective on your life and personality, so it can be a boon to research into more of the history and symbolism. Creating the perfect personal portrait of your own wolf spirit is a process that will affect you for the rest of your life.
Getting your Tattoo
The most important part about getting a tattoo is finding a shop and artist you can trust. Start with scoping out designs you like, then have an artist take a look at them. You can also check out their portfolio to see if they’ve done anything similar, or if they’re able to adequately draw the style you’re looking for.
Regardless of whether it’s your first or one of many, work with a tattoo artist that has experience with the types of tattoos you want and makes you comfortable. If you’re more interested in a tribal design or realism, be sure to let your tattoo artist know exactly how you want it to look. Ideally, they will draw up an amazing wolf tattoo for you to work with for your permanent art. The powerful presence and nature of the wolf will be sure to stay with and inspire you forever.
Ready to get your Wolf Tattoo?
If you need help deciding on an idea or placement, give us a call or submit your ideas through our website, and the staff at Chronic Ink will reach out!
378 Yonge Street,
252 Eglinton Ave East,
7381 Kennedy Road,
100 City Centre Dr.,
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