Dreamcatcher Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning

The traditional dreamcatcher is a handmade willow hoop with a net woven to replicate a spider’s web, with its origin traced to Native American culture. Symbolically, they represent protection from evil dreams but can be tweaked to illustrate different ideas.

Eagle feathers feature prominently on dreamcatcher tattoos, which were revered totems among the Native American tribes. They believed that eagles were physically and spiritually closer to gods, and, therefore, all their body parts were sacred.

Symbolism Behind Dreamcatcher Tattoos

A dreamcatcher tattoo has various components, and each holds a different meaning:


Every dreamcatcher tattoo has a hoop that holds the other items in place. The circle symbolizes the cycle of life and the movement of the sun across the sky. Some designs have more than one hoop—a large one with two smaller ones hanging from the bottom.

Hoop tattoos are popular among people who believe in reincarnation.


The hoop has web-shaped patterns to represent the Spider Woman myth. The web-design is believed to catch bad dreams by filtering them at night and disposing of them during the day. This symbolism is popular among martial arts enthusiasts who view it as an emblem of self-defense and protection.

In mother-daughter tats, this illustration can be used to emphasize the protective nature of their bond.


Beads are usually incorporated into the dreamcatcher tattoo for enhanced aesthetics and vibrancy. Different colored gems may be used to emphasize an underlying theme: red for danger, silver for mystery, blue for peace, green for nature, black for gothic-themes, and the like.


Feather tat symbols imply strength and freedom. For a gothic-themed illustration, dark-steel feathers should work. If you’re going for a more optimistic design, use bright colors for the feathers and incorporate a few happy-themed symbols, like stars, to enhance the idea.

Dreamcatcher Tattoo Designs

Dreamcatcher tats are easily modified without diluting the greater concept of dreamcatchers. Check out these designs:

Floral Designs

Dreamcatcher tattoos with a floral theme have different types of flowers drawn along the edges of the hoop. The most popular flowers used are roses because their petals open up like the sun—adding to the overall optimism of the ink. This design is generally worn by women and men who want to show union with their feminine side.

Animal Designs

Wolves, elephants, tigers, and eagles top the list of animals most preferred for dreamcatcher tattoos. Popular designs often place the animals’ heads inside the hoop. 

A combination of the four animals with dreamcatcher illustrations is often used to emphasize the theme of protection.

Watercolor Designs

Your artist can come up with watercolor patterns behind the dreamcatcher tattoo. The different mix gives it a bright look that immediately attracts the eye. If you love attention, then this might suit you well. It’s a bold design that can be used to express approachable and outgoing personalities.

Traditional Designs

Traditional dreamcatcher tattoos are illustrated with very few alterations to the original forms. They have a simple hoop, straightforward web sketches with a bead or two, and some feathers. If keeping it simple is in line with your personality, then this is your design.

Personal Variations

People often add images of their loved ones, pets, or horoscopes into the hoop. Here are a few more suggestions on how to personalize your dreamcatcher tattoo. 

Hoop Around

You can play around with the number of hoops. Add a twist by placing them in a circle or have the circles looping into each other. Newlyweds often opt to shape the circles after their wedding rings.

For dark-themed illustrations, you can replace the circle with a coiled snake or looped thorns. A modern variation of this design uses barbed wire in place of the thorns. Circles with sawed edges are also popular in the hoops of gothic-themed dreamcatcher tattoos.

Variant Objects

Use symbols and illustrations that hold a special meaning to you. If you grew up next to an ocean, how about using seashells instead of beads? Similarly, feathers could be replaced with pens in academic-themed tats or swords in dark-themed illustrations.

You can also use animals and faces instead of the web. Use a mesh of ants or tiny skulls instead. Changing the shape of the outer hoops into the shape of a heart is another option. Other popular shapes you could try are the yin-yang loop or the outline of a blazing sun.

Background Matters

Add a colorful background behind the dreamcatcher tattoo. It could be an image of a beautiful sunset or the blue sky with clouds. A dark nighttime background featuring stars can create a sharp contrast, making the dreamcatcher stand out.


Text written in beautiful fonts is an excellent way of personalizing your tat and emphasizing the underlying theme. The text could be anything, from the name of someone special to your favorite quote.

Color Symbolism

Dreamcatcher tattoos are probably the most flexible when it comes to the choice of colors. Colors carry some meaning and can be used to elaborate on an existing theme, message, or idea.

Blue and Black 

These colors indicate that the wearer has an anchored personality that never wavers, no matter how stormy conditions get. They’re a good color option for people looking to get dreamcatcher tats for motivation in the pursuit of their dreams.

Cherry Red

This color symbolizes fertility. It’s a feminine color popular with women who aren’t shy from expressing their sexuality. Red cherry dreamcatcher tattoos also point to a playful and approachable personality.

This color works well with cartoon-themed tats, where the idea of approachability and fun is accentuated. Gothic designs that seek to add contrast for effect may also set red cherry dreamcatchers in a darker background.

Red and Orange

A combination of these two colors can symbolize sleep, rest, or death. They’re popular in dreamcatcher tattoos that are used to celebrate the lives of deceased loved ones. In these designs, the hoop is usually bright orange and set in a dull red background. Usually, the face of the deceased is incorporated into the center of the circle.

These colors are also common in dreamcatcher tats used to celebrate a victory. For example, a pink star may be etched into the center of the hoop, which is popular with women who’ve beaten breast cancer.

Common Placements for Dreamcatcher Tattoos

Dreamcatcher tattoos tend to be small. This makes it easy to fit them on most parts of the body:


The back of the neck accommodates dreamcatcher art nicely, but you will need short hair for better visibility. Some people extend the hoops up to their shaved heads.


The bicep is the most preferred spot for dreamcatcher tattoos. Arms have just the right amount of skin surface to allow for future ink additions. The inner part of the lower arm area works best for smaller and colorful designs, especially floral ones.

Back and Chest

The back and the chest are ideal spots if you want to blow up the tattoo to a bigger size. This is especially the case when the dreamcatcher is used to lay the background or set the theme for a combination of tattoos or designs.

Best Dreamcatcher Tattoos