Many believe owls are symbols of both wisdom and truth, which makes owl tattoos for men a popular design choice.
Others consider the owl design to be related to change, such as when the owl makes his hoot heard to announce his presence.
In tribal cultures owls are linked with death and can be considered an omen of oncoming loss of life, while in the East they are considered good, protective Feng Shui. When an owl is incorporated with a skull tattoo then it becomes representative of death.
Read on to experience the top 63 best owl tattoos for men. From realistic feather, body and beak designs to color tattoos and eerie eye ideas that seem to pierce the soul, you’ll find something you can related to your first tattoo, or your next one!
1. Owl Sleeve Tattoo Art
Fantastic shade application helps this piece look almost like a cross between tribal and Japanese owl tattoo on the inner forearm. The gritty, hybrid dotwork fashions a stone effect augmenting the clever armor-like black outline of feathers. It’s a tight, technically savvy tattoo that is liable to draw eyeballs, and questions about the work.
I love this owl sleeve tattoo running from the shoulder to wrist. Smartly, the man has opted for some single color to balance out the darkly detailed feathers of the main part of the bird tattoo – the yellow moon is exceptionally well etched and points to the wearer’s preference for Japanese style flat color fills in supporting imagery.
This primarily black tattoo is solidly done but lacks the innovation and flair of other work. The owl is cool and well supported by nifty negative space moon, and the flaring black branches in the tattoo background.
A wicked blend of bio-mechanical and animal realism styles joined to create an epic owl tattoo in black and gray. At every stage the artist uses tremendously clean line and shade work to craft disparately epic metallic sectors. The negative space provides balance to the clockwork bird and backing gear fill to lightening the entire image. This is an almost flawless mixing of styles in fashioning amazing body art.
This bird looks just like Hedwig! Love the owl in action, but am not sure how it ties in with the pipe. This tattoo is a great example of disparate, realistic items coming together in a cool piece of art. The artist’s decision to ink in heavy, flat black ink fill works perfectly in opposition to the main focal points.
2. Neo Traditional Owl Tattoo
A killer full chest tattoo utilizing classic motifs from the school of American Traditional and then powering up with flair. To be fair, you don’t find many owls swooping into nautical themes, but it’s well worked into the mix. The artist’s decision to fill with a sky blue color instead of black or gray is brilliant- it knits the various elements together like the Dude’s rug did in the Big Lebowski by adding brightness and balance.
The flaming candle at the center of this owl tattoo is a transfixing bit of new wave tattoo. It could be pre-existing ink and seems a massive style counter to the more subdued, realistic owl. This is fun, innovative body art. Love the yellow highlights within the bright red flowers.
This colorful chest tattoo is a well etched neo traditional piece. The basics of old school American traditional tattooing – clean, large and well spaced line work – mix strikingly with new school color effects to build a technically precise art work. The bird’s eyes are brilliantly large and reflective, with small circular white highlights helping provide a realistic sheen.
3. American Traditional Owl Tattoo
Another epic chest tattoo which focuses on realist color etched in interesting shades. It could be considered a little overwrought, however the color transitions and details in feather and claw are expertly done, and the triangular shape fits well in terms of placement.
This American Traditional ink is right on style. It’s crisp and fresh with great emphasis on old school color and well built single needle black line. It’s also spot on from a placement perspective, spreading across the subject’s chest with perfect symmetry. It’s certainly not a flashy tattoo but it’s professional, technical work married to its style.
4. Innovative Cool Designs
A nice tattoo. While only a small chest piece the owl is fully fleshed out on the wing and utilizes crisp black outline work in conjunction with clever gray shade.The bejewelled heart forms a nice, multifaceted contrast to the solid gray scale.
Can’t say I’ve ever seen an owl within an owl before. This is a bad ass full frontal tattoo. There’s so much different pattern work going on that it takes a bit to be able to focus on the whole image – you keep getting stuck looking at ancillary aspects, such as the smaller owl, the bigger owl’s mandala eyes, or the kick ass negative space geometric flourish right through the middle of the ink. It’s a mesmerizing testament to an innovative idea and the concentration of a top quality, highly skilled artist.
A sharply etched tattoo drawing on a variety of styles to design the owl. There’s a well worked mix of geometric, realist, and line work styles that mesh well together, and the shading is cleverly neat and light when it could just as easily been heavy and overworked. The negative space threaded through the image complements the empty space of the bird’s eyes.
This is an amazing full back owl tattoo and a genuine masterpiece. The bird is unbelievably inked by a quality tattoo artist, matching brisk and brilliant black and gray base fill with a variety of different technical elements to form a bird of amazing detail. It is flawless, whether full feathers dipped in darkness or chest plumage resembling the scales of a Japanese koi. The fact the bird is colorfully dismembering a screaming wildcat is almost lost by the quality in the tattoo. The clean, bright blood looks bad ass in comparison the owl’s clean black and gray palette.
This is the image to fill the hearts of mice and little creatures with fear. Love the realism aspect of the base owl tattoo augmented by killer negative space alt fill made to look like the sun. The bird’s outstretched claws and sharp talons are detailed brilliantly to look like grasping weapons.
I love this guy’s owl geometric tattoo. The realistic wise owl is supported by simple line drawings to extend the artwork and give it a sense of scope along the tattoo’s placement on the inner bicep.
5. Black and Gray Owl Tattoo Design
A cool heavy black ink design melding a bird tattoo and Celtic knot in negative space. The wearer’s preference for heavy symbolism, both in design concept and application is a standout attribute of the tattoo and lends new meaning to the term wise owl.
6. Black and Gray Chest Tattoo
An excellent small owl piece. The bird’s eyes are a clean, aware yellow and meld effortlessly with realistic feathers and beak. The artist’s decision to focus on a cross section of the owl instead of the entire animal is exceptional, allowing for interesting shape and scale in the feathery border.
Large tattoos crafted only in fine, single needed black deserve to be recognized when they are precisely etched and eye catching, as this full chest owl is. There’s no traditional shading, or fuzzy filler gun on hand to quicken the image – it’s just deftly fleshed out line work. The central hashes of the owl’s chest feathers and plumage is a fantastic bit of technical skill that contrasts with the emptiness of the bird’s outspread wing feathers.
A well balanced chest piece that would have benefited from more difference in gray scale shading. It’s a little too dark to truly emphasize the alternate fill of hybrid dotwork in claws, wing, and unique secondary eyes. With space left on the chest around this ink an alternate, contrasting fill color could give it added shape.
A solid chest tattoo that pales in comparison to the other art work on this list. It’s clean in black and gray but lacking the elite level shading that separate good tattoos from the absolute best. The first thing to do here would be to up the color palette – the line work is solid enough that the addition of single colors in places such as the rose, eyes, and compass would immediately make it pop.
7. New Wave Owl Color Tattoos
Another owl chest tattoo implementing bright colors to glam up a technically well depicted bird. There’s no major shadow work, the bird depends on the electric mix of hues and pattern spreading across the subject’s chest. The hourglass clutched in the owl’s talons is beautifully inked, adding the concept of time to wisdom.
8. Realism Owl Tattoo Designs
This a quality, unique piece of tattooing. Love the side on placement of the owl which produces interesting angles and an avenue to emphasize the bird’s beak. It works well to enable contrast between the feathers and nicely etched sharp blue eye. The star of this tattoo however is the beautiful blood red rose which drips down from the tattoo. The clarity of color and detail in petals and dew drops is exemplary technical skill.
Wow! This piece shows why owl tattoos are some of 50+ best tattoo ideas in 2020. This is a masterful realism tattoo which focuses on black and white ink contrasts to create beautiful feathers in different, elaborate patches. The clarity and beauty builds on the central owl image with colored leaves, strengthened by excellent fine line veins. It is truly fantastic work that somehow manages to look understated.
The slashes of black and white ink in this animal realism tattoo are examples of fantastic technical application. The multi-directional scratches work wonderfully in creating the texture of downy feathers, while the V of solid white ink is expertly drawn and add to the bird’s fearsome countenance.
A fantastically etched owl tattoo. The detail of small head feathers are executed strongly, mixing negative space and white flourishes with the strength of black line work for emphasis. The bird’s eyes are clear and strong in the center of the subject’s chest, and match up subtly with the bird’s beak. The black shadowed background trees leaking onto the negative space full. moon is excellent technical work filling out the chest and providing scale to the large head image.
This forearm ink works well drawing from the unique angle to give the owl an interesting aspect on skin. The bird looks like it’s head is resting within the surrounding feathers and is half asleep. The paint splotch shade application is a funky use of technical shading.
The impact of red shading and background fill draws they towards the matching eyes of this owl tattoo. The image is well supported by gray purposely muddled gray scale fuzzy shade for the chest and head feathers. The one area that could do with developing is the beak – there’s a chance to add thicker black line work to give the bone strength.
9. Unique Placement Owl Tattoo
10. Unfinished Owl Designs
11. Owl Tattoo Design with Skulls
What does an owl tattoo symbolize?
The owl is representative of wisdom and knowledge. In Greek mythology the owl was linked to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and strategy. An owl sat on Athena’s blind side to protect the goddess so that she could always see the truth. Owls were also mentioned in the Christian Bible as symbols of intelligence.
Are owl tattoos bad luck?
In tribal cultures owls are linked with death and can be considered an omen of oncoming loss of life, while in the East they are considered good, protective Feng Shui. Owls are popular in the world of tattoo as a motif linked to wisdom and intelligence. They are often utilized to reflect the acquisition of knowledge or skills.
What does an owl and skull tattoo mean?
When an owl is incorporated with a skull tattoo then it becomes representative of death. In some cultures, the owl, which is a highly skilled nocturnal predator, helps escort the departed soul to the gateway of the beyond.
Why do owls make popular tattoo designs?
Some of the mannerisms that make owls a popular tattoo motif includes:
- There are different types of owls that make interesting contrasts in tattoo ideas such as the barn owl, snowy owl, or even the tawny frog mouth
- You can certainly hear the hoot of an owl at night even a mile away, yet in the darkness only they can truly see you
- With the ability to turn their heads up to 270 degrees, they can quite literally see in almost every direction without moving their body an inch
- When stalking prey their soft feathers and fringes muffle sound to near silence
- With the ability to see in the darkness, it represents the idea of seeing beyond illusion, masks and deception
- The owl can showcase the power of seeing someone’s true state of mind while uncovering all the dark, hidden secrets
Did you enjoy the range in these cool ink ideas? Looking for more bird tattoo design inspiration or subjects linked to the owl then click on the links below for more awe tattoo designs: