Butterfly Tattoo Designs and Meanings From Tattoo Design Professionals

Getting a butterfly tattoo is not just a trendy, girly tattoo symbol. This beautiful insect symbolizes rebirth, change, and freedom.

Butterfly tattoo designs can feature everything from beautiful gossamer species to bold and colorful abstract designs.

The papillon has a plethora of meanings behind it, regarded as beautiful, delicate parts of nature, the tiny animal that says a lot.

The butterfly comes in many different shapes and sizes, which makes butterfly tattoo drawings easily personalized, allowing you to create a truly unique piece of ink.

From an ugly worm to a regal-looking butterfly like the monarch butterfly, these insects truly show that change is the way of life.

Many regard butterflies as their preferred tattoo flash inspiration as they are always on demand and never go out of fashion – since the start of traditional tattoos.

Looking for a unique butterfly tattoo design?

Let’s dive in and see which one would be best for you!

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Every Tattoo Has A Story – Butterfly Tattoo Meaning

The butterfly tattoo palette meaning is great.

These delicate insects are deep and powerful representations of life.

There is a veil of mystery, symbolism and representation of spiritual rebirth, transformation, change, hope and life.

Just like the cherry blossom, the short-lived butterfly closely mirrors the process of spiritual transformation, reminding us about the brevity of life.

Some also believe that butterflies are angels, considering them winged angelic messengers from the realms of spirit that send signals and validations from our loved ones that have passed on.

In this context they can also be especially well used in combination with roses for a tattoo design.

Along that line, there is also the interpretation that butterflies are symbolizing the passing of a loved one, or life struggles that people have endured to emerge as a better person.

On another note, butterflies have also been a symbol for celebrations, weddings, life, and our journeys, similarly to bees.

As previously seen in other guides, many cultures view the same symbols differently.

So, the Christian religion sees the butterfly as a symbol of resurrection, just like the cross tattoo.

However, around the world people view the butterfly as representing endurance, change, hope, and life.

Some even combine it with other spiritual symbols or amulets like the evil tattoo, to make the meaning of it broader.

In the Native American folklore, this totem animal is also symbolic of lightness of being and elevation from the heaviness of tensions bringing joy and bliss in bright colors.

This animal totem is primarily associated with symbolism of change and transformation.

  • Powerful transformation, metamorphosis in your life, personality
  • Moving through different life cycles
  • Renewal, rebirth
  • Lightness of being, playfulness
  • Elevation from earthly matters, tuning into emotional or spiritual
  • The world of the soul, the psyche

Butterfly Color Meanings

As butterflies come in so many species and colors, each one of them holds a specific meaning across different cultures around the world.

Let’s go through most common choices for a butterfly tattoo:

  • Blue butterfly (most likely species: Eastern-Tailed Blue or Pipevine Swallowtail) –
    These butterflies serve as a reminders to be at peace with your life, to enjoy the calm and joy, and look for value in life. As such it could suggest birth and rebirth, as you cycle through a new phase in your journey. They could also point to faithfulness and reliability.
  • White butterfly (most common species: Large White, Small White, Green-veined White and Orange-tip) – These butterflies relate to the idea of white angels, and can symbolize their visit.
    Along those lines, it could symbolize a new start, like a clean slate, the best time to look at the world with a bit more innocence, or hopefulness.
    One more interpretation is the “white flag of surrender.” Seeing the butterfly may suggest that it’s time to surrender a fight you’ve been having, whether internal or external, and find a way to achieve peace.
  • Yellow butterflies (most common species: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail or Cloudless Sulphur) – These bright-colored butterflies might be just the best and most needed reminder to enjoy the simple life, and the joys of a sunny summer day. One more symbolism added to that is the one of optimism, playfulness, simple pleasures of life.
    It was the symbol of the soul in early Christianity and in the Native American culture it also means the soul is at peace when flying near the departed.

Best Butterfly Tattoo Placements

The most common papillon tattoo is the butterfly hand tattoo. It’s a placement that flatters the shape of butterfly best, without going for a heavy, maximalist tattoo design.

Since it’s used for tiny tattoos commonly, another great option is the butterfly tattoo behind ear.

If you’re looking for a Taylor Swift inspired tattoo, you can also go for a full butterfly back tattoo.

When looking for a medium type of tattoo, a good way to go about it is with a butterfly tattoo on forearm or a shoulder butterfly tattoo.

Make sure to also consider a butterfly thigh tattoo if you want to mix it up with other elements like birth flowers, snakes, daisies, or bigger animals like wolves or bears.

When it comes to styles, apart from the above mentioned traditional style, check out watercolor butterfly tattoo ideas and geometric butterflies.

Butterfly Tattoo Ideas

To help you with your research for your next tattoo design, we went on a hunt through Instagram to find the best butterfly tattoo ideas.

Take a look below to check them out all:

Are you looking for a custom butterfly tattoo design? We got you.

Our expert tattoo artists will provide a quick initial draft to get you going.
Happy inking ❤

Milena Petrovic

Milena Petrovic

Co-founder of Tattoo Stylist

About the author

Milena has decided to start an organization that will create a safe environment for everybody to get their first, second or third tattoo and to encourage young people to transform their ideas into tattoos safely, with talent and vision.

You can find her writing about tattoos on Quora or updating our Pinterest profile with awesome tattoo ideas!

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