We showcase some of our favorite spider tattoos in our latest body art guide. Read on to see some truly inspirational designs!
Spider tattoos have a tendency to inspire strong feelings. Just like with real spiders, most people either love them or hate them – or rather, don’t understand them.
However, the symbolic meaning of spider tattoos is surprisingly positive – and these many-legged creatures make for excellent tattoo designs.
In this article, we’ll explore the meanings of spider tattoos and recommend some of the best spider tattoo designs.
For even more inspiration, check out the gallery below!
What does a spider tattoo mean?
Perhaps because most of us don’t understand spiders in the same way that we can relate to mammals – such as cats or dogs – they are symbolic of mystery.
Dwelling in dark, remote places, spiders make us think of something hidden and little-understood.
Spiders are also symbolic of intrigue, as highlighted by the popular phrase ‘to weave a web of lies’.
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Strength and cunning
Although spiders are not strong creatures in terms of physical power, they have very clever mechanisms that ensure their survival – from their venom to the webs they use to catch prey.
Therefore, a spider tattoo symbolizes cunning, trickery, and strength – particularly strength of character and intellect.
Another spider tattoo meaning comes from the web that these creatures weave. In many cultures, spiders’ webs are symbolic of connection and the ‘fabric of the universe’.
As such, spider tattoos can symbolize the idea that all things are connected, and the belief that everything has a place in the universe.
Most of us are afraid of spiders. In fact, arachnophobia – the fear of spiders – is among the most common phobias we experience.
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A spider tattoo, therefore, suggests overcoming your fears. Even if you are not scared of spiders specifically, getting a spider tattoo implies courage and conquering fears.
A spider tattoo on the hand is a particularly good way to express this meaning.
On a spiritual level, a spider is often a reminder to take charge of our lives and make our own choices. Just as a spider deliberately constructs its intricate web, we’re all constructing our lives – one choice at a time.
Spiders in Native American culture
It’s not an accident that the pattern woven within the central hoop of a dreamcatcher resembles a spider’s web.
A number of Native American tribes featured myths involving the figure of the Spider Woman.
This supernatural being served as the messenger between the Creator and humanity and taught humans how to weave fabric.
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According to myth, the Spider Woman also visited newborn babies in the tribe, weaving a magical web that would protect them.
When the tribe grew in numbers, she was unable to visit everyone – hence people started weaving their own webs of protection, the dreamcatchers.
A spider tattoo in Native American context, therefore, is a symbol of protection and a good luck charm.
Spiders in pop culture
Many spider tattoos are references to popular culture, most often Spider-Man and The Avengers’ Black Widow.
Spider-Man tattoos are particularly popular, distinguished by the red background matching the color of the superhero’s costume.
Design ideas for spider tattoos
Realistic spider tattoo
Definitely the number one choice for spider tattoo aesthetics, these designs aim to create the illusion that a real spider is resting on the skin.
To this end, tattoo artists use careful shading, both within the image of the spider and where it ‘drops’ a shadow onto the skin.
When deciding to get a realistic spider tattoo, it’s a good idea to choose a reference image for the tattooist to use. This will ensure that the resulting tattoo is as realistic as possible.
In terms of sizing and placement, smaller tattoos will be best in most cases. If the spider in the tattoo matches its real equivalent in size, the design will be all the more realistic.
The hand is a common placement for these tattoos, as is the neck and shoulder.
In general, most people get these somewhere visible – let’s be honest, it must be fun to see people’s reactions!
The ultra-realistic style in tattoo art is known as 3D. Check out our dedicated article on these types of designs here.
Black widow tattoo
In terms of the exact species of spider that appear most often in tattoos, the black widow definitely has the lead – closely followed by tarantulas.
In popular culture, these spiders symbolize danger, wickedness, and betrayal. They are well-known for one gruesome fact: the females attract males to kill and eat them after mating. Ouch!
It’s the female black widow that holds such popularity in tattoo art. They are easily recognizable due to their deep-black color, with a red hourglass on their abdomens.
Black widows are also the most venomous spiders in North America, with a venom that’s 15 times stronger than that of a rattlesnake!
All-black spider tattoo
For a gothic, mysterious feel, consider an all-black spider tattoo.
Rather than aiming for realism, this type of design features the shape of a spider, rendered only in black ink.
This makes for an excellent minimalist tattoo that fits perfectly anywhere on the body. Because there is not a lot of necessary detail to include, these designs can be really tiny.
Traditional spider tattoo
The traditional style is sometimes referred to as old school or vintage. You’ll know it when you see it: these tattoos involve a black outline and mostly solid fill, with a small color palette and little-to-no shading.
Spiders have featured in tattoos for decades and are one of the classic tattoo designs, so the traditional style is a really good fit.
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Spider on a web tattoo
For a larger design with more detail, adding the web as background or an independent element is a great idea.
This will certainly take away from the realism of the tattoo – if you’re going for the ‘spider resting on your skin’ look, the web will get in the way of the optical illusion.
Interestingly, spider’s web designs (minus the spider) are considered popular prison tattoos. The cobweb indicates entrapment – and a lengthy prison sentence.
Despite the shiver that the sight of a spider sends down most people’s spines, these creatures can be truly fascinating.
The wealth of positive and intriguing meanings, coupled with how well they fit into most tattoo styles, makes spiders the ideal tattoo subjects.
Below, you’ll find a huge gallery of incredible spider tattoos, exemplifying all the design styles described above – and more.