Dragonfly Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning

There’s something so alluring about dragonflies. Watching them dance over the water’s surface and gracefully glide through the air is a magical experience. Cherished by cultures around the world, the dragonfly is animal-rich in meaning. 

Because of all that they symbolize, tattoos of dragonflies have become incredibly popular. Ink in all styles, from watercolor to photorealism, are great choices for anyone seeking an elegant, meaningful design.

Here’s a quick look at the meanings behind dragonfly tattoos and the most popular designs.

The Meanings Behind Dragonfly Tattoos

Dragonflies have many meanings in different cultures around the world:

  • Peace and harmony
  • Positivity
  • Living in the moment
  • Adaptability
  • Elegance
  • Maturity

Peace and Harmony

These graceful insects are often associated with peace. They’re non-aggressive, tranquil, and calming to watch, which makes them a perfect choice for a symbol of peace.

In Chinese culture, harmony is just one of many meanings the dragonfly carries. That’s why so many tattoos carry a connotation of peace and harmony with them.


Dragonflies are heavily associated with positivity, and they’re believed in many cultures to bring good fortune. A dragonfly landing on a person is often viewed as a good omen; a swarm of dragonflies was said to bring life-giving rain. For these reasons, dragonfly tattoos represent positive wishes for the present and future. 

Living in the Moment

Dragonflies spend only a fraction of their brief lives as dragonflies, as most of their lives are spent in a larval stage. Because of this, the dragonfly is often associated with enjoying the moment and living life to the fullest. Life is brief, and dragonfly tattoos are a celebration of the beauty in that brevity.


Dragonflies are often associated with strength and adaptability. They’re one of a small number of animals, including hummingbirds, that can fly backward. This flexibility, with its movements in the air, has earned the dragonfly a well-deserved reputation for being a very adaptable creature. 

If you’ve had to adapt to many of life’s challenging circumstances, a dragonfly tattoo could be an ideal option.


Dragonflies are elegant creatures. They glide gracefully across the water’s surface in search of prey, dancing around each other in fantastic displays of aerial mastery. 

Watching them work their magic in the air, it’s no wonder that the dragonfly tattoos represent beauty and grace for so many people.


Since the dragonfly spends most of its life as a larval nymph, living in the water, it’s not until the last few months of their lives that they emerge from the water as beautiful dragonflies. Because they’re at the final stage of their life cycle, dragonfly tattoos can symbolize maturity and a coming of age.

Other Meanings

Dragonflies also represent independence, happiness, prosperity, change, personal growth, and an understanding of life.

In Chinese culture, the dragonfly is said to represent both water and air, because it begins its fleeting life in the water and ends its life as a master of the sky.

If any of these meanings resonate with you, perhaps a dragonfly tat is the design you’ve been looking for.

Popular Designs and Styles

The five most notable art styles used to tattoo dragonflies are:

  • Traditional
  • Bohemian
  • Realistic
  • Watercolor
  • Minimalist

Traditional Dragonflies

Traditional dragonflies are generally tattooed in bright colors and sharp lines. They can be either realistic or abstract. The colors that are used for traditional dragonflies are usually blues and purples, though sometimes magenta and turquoise are also used. 

Traditional tattoos look great anywhere on the body. Most commonly, these tattoos are found on the arms, legs, shoulders, and back.

Bohemian Dragonflies

Bohemian dragonflies are an attractive design consisting of a somewhat realistic dragonfly draped in ornate beads and jewelry. Sometimes, these dragonflies are surrounded by geometric shapes or lotus flowers instead. 

This style is especially popular among women for its sophisticated appearance. They’re commonly found on the arm, on the back as a large back piece, or as a small, understated design on the wrist or ankle. Its versatility is a massive draw for those seeking an elegant design.

Realistic Dragonflies

These dragonflies look like they’ve flown right out of a photo, with eye-popping intricate details and colors to match. While not every realistic dragonfly tattoo is colored, those with color usually use hues like ultramarine and violet to make the details stand out and give the design a life-like feel.

Realistic dragonflies are usually tattooed on the arm and made to look like they’ve landed there. However, they’re also tattooed in places like the back and the legs.

This style tends to hurt more than simpler designs because there’s much more detail, but the finished product is well worth the pain.

Watercolor Dragonflies

Sometimes realistic and sometimes abstract, watercolor dragonflies have color bleeding out of the linework in vibrant splashes. They really do look like watercolor paint! The colors most often used in this design, in addition to blue and purple, are turquoise and magenta. Sometimes, yellows and oranges will make an appearance as well.

Watercolor dragonflies tend to be small or medium-sized tattoos, and they’re usually placed in areas where they can easily be shown off, like the shoulder, forearm, or back of the leg. It only makes sense to want to show off a piece of art that gorgeous!

Minimalist Dragonflies

Minimalist dragonflies are usually black. They’re composed of as few lines as possible and are generally small tattoos. The minimalist style is trendy among women, as the designs are considered to be beautiful and classy.

These are most commonly placed on areas like the wrist, ankle, or behind the ear. They’re easy to cover up when necessary, but they can also be shown off with relative ease, which adds to their appeal.

Complimentary Designs

The dragonfly is a versatile design, and there are tons of ways to make the idea your own. When thinking of your next ink, consider some of these fashionable designs that work well with the dragonfly:

  • Beads and jewels
  • The sun and moon
  • Geometric designs
  • Feathers and dandelions
  • Dragonflies composed of other shapes 
  • Flowers and other foliage
  • A compass

Incorporating some of these designs into your dragonfly tattoo will help you make a beautiful piece of artwork that’s unique to you. Don’t be afraid to sketch out your ideas and show them to your artist: designing your new ink is one of the best parts of getting a tattoo!


In truth, there isn’t a lot of variation when it comes to the colors used in a dragonfly tattoo. Most dragonfly tattoos are done in blue and purple hues. Violet and ultramarine are two of the most commonly used tones. Those colors are fashionable for a reason—they make the design really pop.

Some dragonfly tattoos are also done in black ink. Many realistic designs are done in black ink only to allow details to stand out better. Similarly, most of the minimalist dragonflies stay colorless for the sake of simplicity.

If you really want to move away from the norm but still want black ink, consider getting a negative dragonfly tattoo. This is where the artist will tattoo the area around the shape of the dragonfly. The result is a sharp-lined dragonfly that’s skin-colored.

Dragonflies come in all different colors, so there isn’t a wrong color to choose when it comes to picking out colors for your next ink. Alternatively, colorless dragonflies also look great, so color choices are entirely a matter of personal taste when it comes to this design.

Body Placements

Your entire body is a canvas, and it can be challenging to decide where to place your ink. It’s always a good idea to look at popular placements for your design to help you choose where to position it. 

The most common placements for dragonfly tattoos are:

  • Shoulder
  • Back of the leg
  • Collarbone
  • Back of the neck
  • Wrist
  • Forearm
  • Back
  • Ankle/foot

Smaller dragonfly tattoos are usually placed on the wrists, ankles, feet, and collarbone. Tattoos in these areas are easy to conceal when necessary, which makes them popular among people who want a tattoo but may need to cover it.

Larger tattoos of dragonflies are typically found on the back of the leg, forearm, and back. These spaces give the tattoo artist more space to work with than they would have on more refined areas of the body.

Best Dragonfly Tattoos