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Dragon Tattoos

Updated on May 4, 2016

One of the Most Popular Themes in Tattooing

Whether it's a Japanese dragon swirling down an arm, a medieval dragon battling a wizard across an entire back piece or a tribal dragon design wrapping an ankle, these mythological creatures are represented in all the major tattoo styles.

Dragons are one of the most pervasive mythological creatures. They are found in stories all over the world, and yet no actual physical evidence of such creatures has ever definitely been discovered. While comparisons can be made between dragon descriptions and many genuine creatures, it's clear that the stories of dragons have a life all their own. No matter if you are looking for ideas for a dragon tattoo, or if you have one already and are looking to see what else is out there, this lens has something for you!

Dragon Tattoo History

In 1882, the young Duke of York, later to become King George V of England, got a tattoo of a dragon while on a visit to Japan. He was a midshipman on the H.M.S. Baccante at the time and traditional tattooist Hori Chyo executed the work. Whether perceived as creatures of air, fire, land or water, dragons have been popular across many styles of tattoo designs for a long time.

In Eastern traditions, dragons can be powerful allies and protectors as well as creatures of menace. They are often seening clutching or chasing the Pearl of Wisdom. In Japanese tattooing the dragons often cover an entire arm or leg, where their twisting body shapes wrap well around limbs, colorfully contrasting against dark backgrounds meant to symbolize wind or water.

Western dragons are often perceived as a threat, and tend to do battle with knights and wizards. They more often have wings in these interpretations and are often seen breathing fire. As with any creature or animal worn as a tattoo, many people wish to take on some of the qualities of these mythical creatures through their skin art.

Poll Into the Heart of the Dragon

See results
Dragon Tattoo Design
Dragon Tattoo Design

At present, this book is out of print and you will have to get a used copy if you wish to own it. I feel this would be entirely worth it given the quality of the publication, put out by Hardy himself in an oversize hardcover edition. This is THE dragon book and it's of value to both tattoo artists and tattoo collectors.


Dragon Tattoo Design - by Don Ed Hardy

This tattoo design book by renowned tattooist Don Ed Hardy features nothing but dragons. There is a basic history and physiology of the creatures, along with tips for how to best recreate Hardy's drawings as tattoos, either as stand-alone pieces or integrated into existing ink.

And then the book just does what it does so brilliantly: it offers up page after page of Hardy's dragon designs. Some are large, some are small, some are very Asian, some are tribal. You get dragons that swim, ones that fly, some are drawn full-bodied and some are just close-ups of the head. If you need a finished design or are just wanting some inspiration, you can find plenty of both in this book.

You might also like 2000 Dragons also by Hardy. This was a fine art project done in honor of the year 2000, a year of the Dragon. Hardy painted on a 500 ft. continuous scroll of paper, producing 2000 different images of dragons. I had the chance to see this on exhibit in San Francisco and it's a fascinating exploration and journey.

Angelina Jolie Inspires A Tattoo Trend... then ditches the designs!

From one dragon to two dragons to no dragons

Angelina Jolie has twice had dragons tattooed on her, and twice she's gotten rid of them. I wonder if the supposed 15% of teenage girls who want a dragon tattoo because of her know this yet.

The following quote can be found on several quotation web sites under the topic of tattoos, but there's notation to when it was said or where:

"I dropped my pants in a tattoo parlor in Amsterdam. I woke up in a waterbed with this funky-looking dragon with a blue tongue on my hip. I realized I made a mistake, so a few months later I got a cross to cover it. When my pants hang low, it looks like I'm wearing a dagger!"

So, when you see that large black cross on her belly, remember there's a dragon under it. In this picture, you can see a pair of tattoos on her left upper arm. It reads "Billy Bob" and there is a dragon underneath it.

Both of those tattoos are now gone. The name and dragon have been lasered-off and replaced with the tattooed latitudes and longitudes that correspond to the birthplaces of all her children.

See the full history of all of Angelina's tattoos!

Dragon Tattoo Videos

Here's where you'll get to see some dragon designs and tattoos come to life!

The Tribal Dragon Tattoos of REIGN OF FIRE

In REIGN OF FIRE, actor Matthew McConaughey plays Denton Van Zan, an American soldier come to England to hunt down the source of the plague of dragons that has scorched the Earth.

His character is pretty well covered in dragon-theme tattoos. The blackwork on his arms looks like dragons in flight or wing shapes and when he takes off his vest, you can see stylized dragons curling up his chest and around his pecs. It's as much a fantastic design job as it is a testimony to his personal trainer. You don't look that hot if you have tattoos like this but don't have the cut pecs and a six-pack to support the artwork.

Van Zan is a dragonslayer who has chosen to wear symbols of dragons to signify his ability to overpower them. In addition to his ink, he also wears a dragon's tooth necklace.

In the poll at the top of this lens about dragon tattoos the majority of people say they come here because they are thinking about getting this type of imagery. So... did you finally go out and get a tattoo of a dragon or what? If you have a dragon tattoo, please tell us what the design looks like, why you got it and what the experience was like!

What Is Your Dragon Tattoo Like? Tell Us About It! - share the dragon tattoo love

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    • profile image

      Victor Kosloski 

      3 years ago

      I have three dragons on my body one of my leg one of my arm one Covering my back I am seeking for the perfect Dragon to go on my lower arms .

    • schwarz profile imageAUTHOR

      Rae Schwarz 

      7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @Echo Phoenix: There's something truly fantastic about that story....

    • profile image

      Echo Phoenix 

      7 years ago

      my daughter has a dragon tattoo across her abdomen and my mother fretted the entire nine months that my first grandchild was gestating beneath the dragon, she would say, "what do you think it will do to the child to sit under that dragon for nine months!" lol! My granddaughter, Vivienne is an extremely curious intelligent child who is rather slightly obsessed with dragons. When asked who her favorite Disney villain is, she will reply, "well, Maleficent! of course..."

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Two of my sisters' have dragon tattoos - they look fab! Very cool lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I've been thinking about getting a dragon tattoo for a little while now, very helpful lens thank you!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      love dragon tats when done well. I want one with wings spanning across my back. *Squid Angel Blessed* and added to My Squid Angel Blessings 2012 in the "Fashion & Beauty » Tattoos, Body Art & Piercings" neighborhood.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i have one

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Not sure if I'd EVER get a tattoo..but the dragon tattoos are simply AMAZING and complex. True skill!

    • MojoMOM profile image


      7 years ago

      Love tats!! All of them. Have 6 and always wanting more. Hubby has 5 and a full sleeve of FIRE!!! Nice lens.

    • awestricken1 profile image

      Ken Parker 

      7 years ago from Tacoma, Wa

      I have a couple tattoos and these are amazing designs.

    • dahlia369 profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice, as long as they are not on my skin... ;)

    • Julia Morais profile image

      Julia Morais 

      7 years ago

      I've got 1 tatt, and I'm not sure I want another one. But some of these designs are great.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice collection of tattoos. I love them.

    • DeniseDurham2011 profile image


      7 years ago

      Quite a few tattoos, but no dragon. I have gone with butterflies, flowers & water,for the most part. Love tattoos! Can't wait to get my next one!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Enjoyed stopping by and seeing these tattoos.

    • livinglargeandh profile image


      7 years ago

      No tattoo for me. But I love them as art.

    • allenwebstarme profile image


      7 years ago

      You know dear, I'm true fan of yours and your lenses. another wonderful awesome lens.

    • CraftaholicVete profile image


      7 years ago

      I didn't get a dragon tattoo but I have 13 tats already, my problem is I want to be able to see mine but not is a mirror,lol. My husband wants one to wrap around his leg but he hates pain,lol I doubt he will ever get it. But, I love to wood burn Dragons plus my husband collects them great lens and tons of information.


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