Due to the storied history of birds in mythology, religion, spirituality, folklore, and art, they make for some popular and meaningful tattoo designs.
Of all the birds you could get tattooed, one that is particularly iconic and imbued with meaning is the crow.
From its striking coloration that’s so black it’s almost blue to its rich symbolism in popular culture, the crow makes for a great tattoo subject.
Of course, there is no shortage of different interpretations and styles you can draw from to design your own crow tattoo.
For some inspiration and information about crow tattoo design ideas, keep on reading!
Itachi Crow Tattoo
Fans of the Naruto franchise know how important the crow is to Uchiha Itachi’s story. Itachi is a long-time fan-favorite character, and the crow, his summoning animal, has come to symbolize his intelligence and cunning. No spoilers here, but Itachi’s crow is one of the heroes of the 4th Great Ninja War!
Featuring the very iconic silhouette of Itachi perched on the power line against the foggy full moon, this crow tattoo design is a great source of inspiration for manga and anime lovers!
A Nod to Itachi’s Crow Tattoo
If you’d prefer a more subtle reference to the older Uchiha brother, this crow design that features Itachi’s Mangekyo Sharingan and the Infinite Tsukuyomi hints towards Naruto and the significance of Itachi’s crow without referencing it quite as obviously. If you know, you know.
Small Crow Tattoo
Just because crows are jet-black in real life doesn’t mean all crow tattoo designs have to be! This small crow tattoo is delicate and simple but still has a discernable crow shape and outline without the blackout ink.
There’s a wispiness to this crow design, making it appear almost like smoke, adding to the mystical feel of the crow symbolism.
Blackwork Crow Tattoo
On the flip side, this small crow tattoo is completely blacked out, making for a really cool contrast that stands out against the skin. Small tattoos can still have a big impact!
If you’re looking for a crow tattoo that stands out without breaking the bank or having you sit under the needle for too long, this design can be a great source of inspiration for you.
Traditional Crow Tattoo
Known for its hard lines and saturated colors, this traditional take on a crow tattoo design features the crow perched on some iconic traditional-style flowers. The patterns and shading of the feathers are striking and typical of this tattoo style.
Traditional Crow With Death Imagery
This traditional crow tattoo also features some classic aspects of the traditional tattoo style, such as the skull, hearts, blade, and heavy shading. In addition, this design draws upon some of the lore and mythos surrounding crows in popular culture by including the skull and a scythe, the chosen weapon of the Grim Reaper.
Black Crow Tattoo
Balancing authentic coloration and intricate detail can be difficult in a crow tattoo idea. Because the most realistic depiction of the bird would be totally blacked out, finding ways to showcase details such as the feathers may be a challenge.
This black crow tattoo is a great source of inspiration for anyone looking for a realistic crow tattoo design, using careful shading to outline the feathers and give the tattoo dimension and detail while still keeping true to the actual bird.
Black Crow With Negative Space Detail
Though less realistic, this other black crow tattoo still features a creative design with some feather detail, using negative space to differentiate between the feathers. Using the skin itself as the highlights of the tattoo design instead of a lighter color gives a really cool effect.
Old Crow Tattoo
Old-school tattoo designs are rife with bold lines, heavy shading, and iconic shapes and images, and this crow tattoo design is no different. Framed by classic old-school style flowers, the crow has some grey shading, deviating from the typical blackwork crow tattoos.
Crow Skull Tattoo
Being scavenger animals so closely associated with death, it’s no surprise that skeletal crow tattoos are among the most popular crow tattoo designs. This design features a realistic, almost anatomical sketch of a crow skull over the wrist.
Crow Skull WIth Nature Elements
This design, however, incorporates more aspects of nature and the natural decaying process, like mushrooms and bugs. It adds some more detail and shading, making the design look a bit more dynamic. Overall, there is inspiration out there for whatever your preference might be, whether you prefer clean lines or heavier detail in your tattoos.
Gothic Crow Tattoo
“Gothic” as an adjective can refer to a lot of different things – types of architecture, literature, art, and counterculture could all be described as gothic. Across the board, one feature that unites all things gothic is a sense of spooky surrealism.
This tattoo features a humanoid steampunk crow in a plague mask with a smaller, more true-to-life crow perched on its shoulder. Does it get more gothic than that?
Crow Perched on Skull Tattoo
Maybe in homage to gothic literature of yore (think: Shakespeare and Poe), this crow tattoo design features the bird perched on top of a skull (Yorick’s?), eyeing you curiously. This tattoo is slightly more subtle than the steampunk crow in its gothic sentiments but successfully captures the spooky theme nevertheless.
Crow Silhouette Tattoo
It might be challenging to imagine what a silhouette or shadow for an animal that’s already completely black might look like as a tattoo, considering crows already look like shadows. This crow tattoo design is an excellent example of that, foregoing any interior detail in favor of crisp outer lines and blackwork that give the crow a silhouette effect against the skin.
American Crow Tattoo
Did you know that sailors away at sea used to get rose tattoos to honor the women they left behind? This particular crow tattoo is an interesting take on that tradition. Since crows can often symbolize death or the afterlife, adding the American traditional style rose renders an image of love for a woman who has passed on.
Crow Perched on Rose Tattoo
Similarly, this crow tattoo design shows the crow perched on the rose, almost as if to protect it. Red and black look great paired together – something to inspire you for your next tattoo!
Celtic Crow Tattoo
Like many other cultures, crows have a special spot in Celtic mythology and folklore, representing individuality and clairvoyance. This Celtic crow tattoo design honors that tradition by incorporating some Celtic knots across the wings.
The Celtic knots themselves are a beautiful detail and tattoo idea with many different meanings and interpretations since their first use during the Roman Empire. Typically, Celtic knots are endless or infinite, but this design features a few different endpoints, possibly as a nod to the crow as a symbol of death, severing the loop.
Crow Feathers Tattoo
Feathers are a very popular tattoo design in general and are varied in style. But if you want to step up your feather tattoo, take some inspiration from this design that includes the bird from where the feathers came.
The process of a bird losing or shedding its feathers is called molting and often happens to make way for new growth. This seems especially apt for the crow, which in addition to being a harbinger of death, also often symbolizes change or transformation.
Crow Sleeve Tattoo
Something special about crow tattoos, and bird tattoos in general, is how the position of the bird’s wings can impact the tattoo’s space and placement. Outstretching the crow’s wings can take a small, delicate design and turn it into a tattoo that spans the entire shoulder and wraps around the forearm like the one above.
Fine Line Crow Sleeve Tattoo
This crow sleeve tattoo features a very detailed bird nestled amongst some delicate flowers. This take on the crow tattoo is different than many typical ideas. The color is muted, the style is more realistic, the shading is lighter, and the positioning is more peaceful. This is a nice contrast to other crow tattoo designs that often feature darker imagery and a heavy hand.
The wings on this crow (though beautifully drawn) remain tucked and don’t showcase the wingspan, but the design includes some gorgeous flora to take up space and build out the crow tattoo into a cohesive sleeve.
Crow Forearm Tattoo
The forearm is one of the most popular places to get a tattoo, especially something as intricate and imaginative as this crow tattoo design. Your forearms are often on display, so it’s a great spot to showcase some beautiful tattoos!
This particular crow forearm tattoo features a hazy night sky and just a sliver of the moon, giving the whole piece a mystical, witchy feel. Crows have a special place in a lot of different mythologies and spiritualities, so this imagery ties those themes together nicely.
Crow Tattoo Ideas FAQ
What does a crow tattoo mean?
The beauty of art, including tattoos, is that you can determine for yourself what the image might mean to you.
Some common interpretations of crow symbolism include transformation and change, intelligence, spirituality, and the afterlife (you can read more about the meaning behind crow tattoos here).
However, combining imagery in your design can give a crow tattoo new life, such as the molting crow making way for transformation or the incorporation of a rose that could represent a loved one.
All in all, there is no set “meaning” for a crow tattoo. It’s an important animal in many different cultures throughout history, and the symbolism is not universal.
How much does a crow tattoo cost?
The cost of your tattoo has more to do with size, placement, shading, time dedicated to the tattoo, and the rate of the tattoo artists themselves than what the image actually is. The bigger and more detailed the design is, the longer it will take the tattoo artist to draw and tattoo, and thus, the more expensive the tattoo will be.
As you can see from the ideas we’ve shared, there is a wide range of sizes and different levels of detail possible for your crow tattoo.
The scale and detail, though, is ultimately up to you! There are plenty of gorgeous crow tattoos that are small and simple, as well as big, detailed tattoos that make up an entire sleeve. The cost will correlate closely to your preference for these factors.
Don’t forget, though – even if the tattoo is small, most tattoo shops have a minimum payment to account for the cost of materials and labor regardless of the time spent tattooing.
Do crow tattoos hurt?
Similar to the cost equation, the pain level of a tattoo is impacted more by the placement and intricacy of the tattoo than the image itself. If placed in a notoriously painful spot like on the ribs, sternum, throat, or foot, then the tattoo will most likely hurt, regardless of what the tattoo actually depicts.
Typically, the thicker and darker the line work, the more the tattooing process can hurt. So be prepared for that, especially considering most crow tattoo designs typically have a fair bit of dark shading and blackwork.
Feeling Inspired to Start Your Own Crow Tattoo Design?
We hope these crow tattoo designs inspire you to get creative! Whatever your preference, you can mix styles, symbolism, coloring, and imagery to come up with a crow tattoo that is unique and true to you.
For more tattoo inspiration, check out our other Tattoo Idea posts.