- American Traditional
- Stylized from a film or video games (Illustrative)
Wolves in American TraditionOur first connotation with the wolf as a spirit animal typically coincides with Native Americans, whose animal tattoos have long fascinated art enthusiasts. The type of tattoos associated with this ethereal creature offer a more natural approach to showcasing power, whether physical or emotive. A tribal wolf tattoo most adequately shows this; a sort of primal and simple design that lends to a powerful presence. Since the nature of wolves is that of both social and solitary creatures, it’s easy to see their two-sided nature in aesthetic art. In American tradition, wolves have been seen as predators and vermin, attacking helpless livestock and causing all manner of trouble for farmers and country folk. They snuck around in the dark, looking for ways to get around the traps and triggers of hunters. Yet, in modern times, the wolf has come to be seen as more of a “survivor” type, making us imagine men and women with the power and fortitude to meet any challenge. As such, we can see a lot of the wolf in tattoo art for those who have overcome a challenge or are still facing one, so that they may have the same tenacity as the predator of the past. Our modern perception of the alpha wolf is one that lends much inspiration in tattoo art due to its tangible power. The alpha works in conjunction with its mate in order to keep the peace within the pack, ensuring that everyone is safe. This connotation with family is rooted in Native American tradition also, something that is important to note even in contemporary times. As a totem or spirit animal, the wolf carried a person through life and helped them through tough times, keeping that primal tenacity alive.
Wolves in Popular Culture and ArtDreamcatchers and headdresses that exemplify the natural quality of the wolf are very popular in contemporary tattoo culture, as they offer a way to capture the free spirit of the wolf, lone or otherwise. Since many people today are detached from the sort of “natural” way of life, living in cities or suburbs, wolves take us back to a time when life was simpler and less abstract. This free-spirited nature is attractive to a younger demographic of art enthusiasts who want to show their ties to the land and nature in general. A popular modern version of the traditional wolf tattoo is one that includes a moon in the background, often with three of the creatures in front of it howling. This type of symbolization expresses a lot about the bearer, from a free spirit to a down-to-earth, friendly quality. A wolf head facing the moon can be an incredible aesthetic piece, as it shows the solitary wonder of the wolf, but also the need for connection with others. Oftentimes, this is accompanied by a galaxy-style set of stars or space to further the cosmic qualities of the piece. Blue and purple colors in contrast with grey wolves are often the basis for these “howling at the moon” tattoos. Wolves with blue eyes are portrayed as even more enigmatic than the rest. In nature, wolves never have blue eyes, but rather shades of yellow or amber. In popular culture, the wolf with blue eyes is seen as a ghost, something mysterious and possibly all-knowing, rather not existing at all. This type of wolf is popular in movies and video games, where characters with this mysterious personality take precedence over the others, who may seem plain or otherwise “uninspiring”. Despite the wolf’s connotation with its pack, there is much to be said about the lone wolf or standout, one that walks alone. No matter what type of wolf style you are looking to get, each one carries a unique perspective on your life and personality, so it can be a boon to research into more of the history and symbolism. Creating the perfect personal portrait of your own wolf spirit is a process that will affect you for the rest of your life.
Getting your TattooThe most important part about getting a tattoo is finding a shop and artist you can trust. Start with scoping out designs you like, then have an artist take a look at them. You can also check out their portfolio to see if they’ve done anything similar, or if they’re able to adequately draw the style you’re looking for. Regardless of whether it’s your first or one of many, work with a tattoo artist that has experience with the types of tattoos you want and makes you comfortable. If you’re more interested in a tribal design or realism, be sure to let your tattoo artist know exactly how you want it to look. Ideally, they will draw up an amazing wolf tattoo for you to work with for your permanent art. The powerful presence and nature of the wolf will be sure to stay with and inspire you forever.
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