Brunette woman with tattoo

Too many times we hear of people asking if we do cover-ups or if we erase tattoos because they have problems with theirs. The issues is not how it was done, but actually what design they chose. Some are impulsive enough to walk into a tattoo studio and pick a design right then and there without even realizing that tattoos have meanings. We’re not just talking about those who get Chinese characters inked on without fully understanding they say. There are others still who see a tattoo they like on a celebrity, or from a movie and have it done only to find out later that it has a negative meaning!


If you want to avoid that kind of situation, then read this blog and discover the hidden meanings behind some of the most iconic tattoo designs.



Based on Native American mythology, a dreamcatcher can protect infants from nightmares and bad spirits. Translated into tattoos, dreamcatchers intend to attract only good things – health, money, love, and keep off negative ones.



Usually found on shoulders and elbows, this design is said to mean being caught in prison. There are other prison motifs for tattoos, including tombstones with numbers, walls with falling bricks, and clock faces with no hands.



Another seemingly harmless but actually dark in meaning, clown faces seem to say “laugh now, cry later”. Canadian authorities say this design is usually found on gang members’ bodies.



Butterflies represent the wonder of metamorphosis – a beautiful transformation. They are also accept universally as a symbol of the soul. Perhaps that is why the Greek word Psyche is used to mean both butterfly and soul.



A prison guard from St. Petersburg, by the name of Danzig Baldayev documented the tattoos of inmates. His Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia states that cats usually symbolize a thief’s pedigree. If there’s just one cat tattoo, that could mean he acted alone. If there are several, he is probably a part of a gang.



We all have seen teardrop tattoos in movies and on some celebrities like Amy Winehouse. But do you know that this tattoo design is associated with prison and death? If you ask gang members, an unfilled teardrops means the death of a friend who hasn’t been avenged yet. A filled one then could mean that person has killed someone.


Three Dots around the Eye

The three dots around the eye stand for ‘mi vida loca’ or my crazy life. This particular tattoo shows great pride in being Latino. It is said to be popular in prisons where it is important for certain groups to recognize their own at glance.


We cannot deny that tattoos had long been associated with gangs and such. That is a part of tattoo’s rich history and from that period came some of these symbolic tattoos with hidden meanings. But there are also a lot of inspirational tattoos that people get to symbolise their strength, hope, and love.