Feather Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning

There’s something airy and easy about feathers, which is probably why so many people choose to get them inked onto their bodies. Big feather tattoos are usually used to confer a love for freedom. As standalone illustrations, they also carry the theme of a lightness of spirit.

A feather tattoo is an excellent choice for you if you like to travel, are a writer, a professor, or someone who enjoys living free. Here are the most popular meanings, designs, and colors commonly associated with these tattoos.

Feather Tattoos: Symbolism and Meaning 

Some of these feather tattoo connotations might give you some inspiration for your feather tattoo design:

Easy Living

The feather is often associated with a willingness to change. For those who’ve recently gone through a big life transition, consider using it to celebrate your new situation.

Combining the symbol with the illusion of moving air and illustrating it curved upwards can emphasize the theme of lightness, transcendence, and carefree living. This is an excellent option for a tat that’ll inspire you to push through life’s hardest hits.

Touched by a Spirit

The feather is considered sacred by the Hopi. The origins of this assumption may be related to how they ascend towards the sky at the slightest breeze. This was probably interpreted to illustrate a connection to the divine. 

Other Native Americans also considered feathers to be divine and held them in high esteem. They used them in crowns and robes during rituals.

If you want to capture this aspect in illustration, first ask your artist about any related spiritual tats they’ve done. Most tattooists have catalogs in their parlors, which they’ll be happy to show you. Draw inspiration from their past work or settle for a depiction that aligns with your preferences.

Of Peace and Feathers

In some religions, the feather is seen as a symbol of charity, faith, and hope. That said, the ink can be a powerful representation of these attributes even if you aren’t religious.

Those who seek to spread a message of peace or need more of it in their life can benefit from carrying this symbol on their skin. A tattoo of this kind can serve as a regular reminder to always strive for the best outcomes for all humanity.

An upright feather, or one floating in the wind, is often symbolic of personal or global peace. The colors to opt for would be blue, black and white, or full white. White is especially suited for the theme because it’s considered to be the color of peace.

Writer’s Ink

This symbol is often associated with education, knowledge, and wisdom because it was once used as a writing accessory. Professors, writers, scholars, or lovers of knowledge may want to get this tattoo for its academic symbolism. 

For those who want to celebrate the stamina and precision required for academic excellence, an upright and straightened feather design, with a drop of ink, is an excellent option. It’s often combined with a scroll to emphasize the idea. How about illustrating the quill mid-sentence for effect?

Design and Styles for a Feather Tattoo 

These tats can be hyper-realistic with clear details or symbolic with the outlines only. People who choose hyper-realistic variants don’t shy away from inking everything, from the base, the follicle, to the little hairs on top.

Feathers Blown by the Wind

Feathers are incredibly light. If you want to let go of some emotional weight, symbolically to get light, you may want to get an illustration that captures the near-weightlessness of the object in the wind. It’s not uncommon to see tats in which the feather hairs seemingly fly millimeters away from their stem. 

Choose a black and white design for contrast, or a dash of purple if you want to infuse your ink with spiritual symbolism. 

The Infinity Sign Intertwined With a Feather

This illustration combines two important objects: the infinity sign, beaming with the symbolism of eternity, and the feather, which represents freedom. This tattoo works well in a hyper-realistic style. 

Feathers and Animals

If you have Native American heritage and want to celebrate it, you may want to choose a fully colored illustration combined with the relevant spirit animal. The combination is popularly placed on the calves, biceps, and forearms. 

Gothic Feathers

Gothic feathers are black with a bit of red, reminiscent of vampires and other nightly creatures. They can be smooth, crooked, or fashioned into dark-looking blades for added effect. Popular placements vary with design and intent, but you can most often see them on the chest, close to the heart.

Common Color Combinations for Feather Tattoos

Tattoos are art forms and need not be confined to the rules of reality. You can have any color combinations that appeal to your character, independent of their existence, or non-existence, in nature.

Black and White

This color scheme is ideal for those of you who want to emphasize a sense of mystery or elegance in your tattoo. Black ink, especially in bigger designs, can be used to infuse your design with gloom.

A predominance of white emphasizes purity and is associated with youth and innocence. It works best when contrasted with other colors because white ink has a reputation for yellowing as the body breaks it down—when surrounded with dark colors, the yellowing will be practically unnoticeable.


Purple stands for spirituality and transcendence and is the right choice for you if you want to express either. This design is best illustrated by setting a purple feather in a celestial-themed background.


This is a popular component of showy feather tattoos. They’re great for party lovers, the outgoing, and people who want their ink to pop, not just in style but also in nuance.

If your hyper-realistic feather doesn’t satisfy you quite yet, you can ask your tattoo artist for a dash of color mixed with the black and white base, which will bolden the image.

Body Placements for Feather Tattoos

Given the pain scale of tattoos, it’s advisable that you get a tattoo on a place covered by thick skin and muscles—such as your thigh. This isn’t a prescription, though. Thrill-seekers might enjoy getting a tattoo on areas that are bonier.

Most people, however, get their feathers on a forearm or behind the ear—two vastly distinct placements, pain-wise. Even so, here are some other options for you:

Between the Fingers 

This is an artistic option if you’re academic or a writer because this is where the quill would go if you were writing. Most of these designs between the fingers stick to minimal designs in black and white. 

People who consider themselves “married” to writing or academics are especially fond of getting the ink on their ring finger as a symbol for their lifelong devotion to the craft. 

On the Chest

Feather tattoos on the chest are close to the heart, symbolically and literally, illustrating a person’s most inner desires. This placement works to emphasize the emotion carried by the tat. For further emphasis, have the art over the left breast, above the heart.

Above the Ankle 

Tats on the ankle are usually done in black and white, with a dash of color, such as purple. This area isn’t covered by thick skin; hence, it hurts more than the biceps or the calf, which might be why people instinctively choose smaller illustrations.

This placement works if you like leaving your ankles bare in the summer. As a bonus, when you walk the shores, you’ll watch ocean waves wash over your feather tattoo—relaxing.

On the Calf

An upright illustration works especially well on the back or side of the calf—it looks majestic on the elongated muscles. Runners, or people who have their calves exposed most of the time, should find this placement convenient—if they want to share their ink with curious eyes.

Alternatively, this is an area that can remain covered by clothing, if you’re all about keeping your art to yourself.

Inner Biceps or Behind the Shoulder Blades 

Feather tattoos here are usually realistic, detailed, and more colorful than in other placements. These areas are more spacious, and the extra room allows for more detail and creativity.

Best Feather Tattoos