From Folklore To Bodyart: A Guide to Fox Tattoos And Their Meanings


Magic Fox Spirit Upper Arm Tattoo @inkcache

The animals we share this planet with are fascinating creatures, and many people find a kinship with certain species. From the fierceness of tigers and the strength of lions to the wisdom of owls and the empathy of elephants, people often find a spiritual connection with animals and their characteristics.

This includes foxes. This wily, quick creature is an interesting spirit animal and can translate into a meaningful tattoo. Keep reading to dive deeper into the spiritual meaning of the fox and the possible meanings behind fox tattoos.

Blue Ink Fox And Moon Tattoo @e.hyang.tattoo

The Fox As A Spirit Animal 

Foxes are found worldwide, from North America and the Arctic to North Africa, across Europe and Asia. So, cultures all over the world ascribe spiritual meanings to this animal. 

In China, the fox spirit is known as Huli Jing and has nine fluffy tails.

“These magical fox spirits can transform into anything they want, however, they most commonly transform into beautiful, young women. This just seems to be the form that best suits their goals of acquiring life essence,”

Symbol Sage
Black And Grey Fox Tattoo @winkrot

In Cree Native American folklore, the fox is seen as a benevolent and wise spirit who can take the form of an old woman in an effort to assist people.

“In one myth, a young hero is fleeing from his jealous father who intends to kill him with a number of magical attacks. The fox woman subjects the young hero to some tests and helps him escape once he has proven his worth,”

World Birds

The fox also appears in Celtic mythology where it is regarded as a trickster that can use its guile to outwit people and other animals.

With these incredible stories and lore surrounding foxes, this animal can be a great choice for a meaningful tattoo design.

Fox With Antlers Upper Arm Tattoo @nox.tattoos

What Does A Fox Tattoo Symbolize? 

There are multiple meanings that can be associated with fox tattoos:

Intelligence And Wit

Foxes are known to be super smart animals because of their resourcefulness. When it comes to finding food and shelter, foxes employ various strategies to get over obstacles to get to their goals. 

Cute, Simple Fox Tattoo @arual.tattoo

Adaptability 

These animals have an incredible ability to adapt to a variety of situations. You can find foxes in hot climates, diving into holes in the snow, and even galavanting around cities like London. Their ability to thrive in different habitats demonstrates their flexibility and capacity to adjust to changing circumstances.

Clarity And Divinity

Arctic foxes – also known as white foxes or snow foxes – are a type of fox that lives in the snowy, icy conditions of the northern hemisphere. According to Tatt Mag, an Arctic fox tattoo can,

“…mean that you have found this clarity in religion and that spirituality is very important to you. A white fox tattoo has the power to express your love for God as well as your divine search for the meaning of life.”

Fox And Roses Tattoo @maditattooer

What Does The Fox Tattoo Mean For A Woman? 

Foxes can be associated with femininity. As stated above, some ancient cultures saw foxes as mystical beings that could transform into humans, most often women, from beautiful young women in Chinese mythology to wise old women in Native American stories.

Also, the feminine name for a fox is a vixen, a word that is also used to describe a spirited woman. 

Fall Inspired Fox And Sparrow Tattoo @tattooist_fluffy

“The red fox is the most popular fox species. It is well known for its incredibly beautiful fur and kind nature. Because of its behavior and lush appearance, the red fox often symbolizes seductiveness and femininity…To emphasize the symbolism of seductiveness and powerful femininity, the red fox tattoos put a special emphasis on the color, the fur, and the tail,”

Saved Tattoo
Kitsune Upper Arm Tattoo @inkcache

What Does A Traditional Japanese Fox Tattoo Mean?

Foxes appear in Japanese culture, too! Kitsune, as they’re known in Japan, are intelligent and magical beings. 

“In ancient Japan, foxes were seen as these immortal, mystical creatures and [as a] messenger of the gods. This interpretation is especially related to the beliefs of Shintoism,”

Saved Tattoo
Witchy Fox Arm Tattoo @nell_nebula

Kitsune have both good and bad forms. The good form, known as Zenko,

“…can also be protective defenders, or work hand in hand with humans when respect goes both ways. Stories tell of zenko foxes who would help safeguard households and their properties (such as farms or stalls) and other valuables. Some were even said to have come to the aid of innocent humans harassed by evil foxes,”

Tat Ring

Whereas the evil form of Kitsune is known as a trickster. 

There are a variety of ways to go about a Kitsune tattoo, but the traditional Japanese tattoo designs are bold in both design and color. Because of this, they can run on the bigger side so needs a large surface area – such as the bicep or shoulder blade – to make the most of the details. 

Watercolor Red And Blue Foxes Tattoo @jennie_kiebler_art

Fox Tattoo Ideas

There are a variety of ways to go about a fox tattoo. Whether you are leaning towards a super colorful design or a more simplistic tattoo with purely black ink, take inspiration from these ideas:

Watercolor Fox Tattoo

If you love the fiery hues of a fox’s fur, you may want to consider a watercolor fox tattoo.

A watercolor tattoo is made up of subtle gradients of color blending into each other in an effort to look like a watercolor painting. While you can incorporate strong black lines into the design, the emphasis is on the sweeps of color. 

Watercolor Fox Tattoo @cassiepierceart

However, red ink comes with its own considerations.

“In the tattoo world, a reaction to red ink is the most common, with many experiencing some redness and swelling. For some, however, red ink can spark allergy reactions, turning their tattoo experience into a nightmare. Some dermatologists also warn that if you have the gene for psoriasis, red ink might trigger the condition or cause a flare,”

1Aesthetics

You can ask your tattoo artist to do a patch test 24 hours before your tattoo appointment to make sure that your body can handle red tattoo ink. 

Specific techniques need to be done for this style of tattoo, so it is important to find a tattoo artist who is experienced in watercolor designs. Take your time going through tattoo artists’ portfolios.

Colorful Fox Head Tattoo With Flowers And Butterfly @dasfreuleinfux

Fox Head Tattoo Designs 

Instead of a full fox tattoo, you could opt for just a design of a fox head in order to focus more on the facial features of the animal.

When it comes to a hyperrealistic tattoo, it is important to realize that super fine details can blur together; this is because the details do not use a lot of ink, and there is a small amount of space in between the fine lines.

To counteract this, it may be worth it to go bigger with your design. Plus, always look after your ink to prolong its crispness. 

Tribal Fox Tattoo @dianabeltranart

Tribal Fox Tattoo

Tribal fox tattoos make use of bold lines and limited details.

“… and they are generally done in black. They reflect intelligence, mysticism, trickery, and wisdom,”

Near Tattoos

The patterns that make up tribal tattoos have significant meanings to cultures, so it is important to do your research before getting any kind of tribal tattoo. 

Traditional Style Fox Tattoo @danrctattoo

American Traditional Fox Tattoo

The old-school traditional American style of tattooing features clean black outlines that encompass saturated colors with minimal shading. 

To enhance the meaning of your tattoo, you could incorporate more symbolism, as Tatt Mag explains,

“The meaning of an American traditional tattoo is dependent on which of these symbols are used. For example, if an olive branch is used, the fox tattoo means that you use your cunning abilities to create peace and that you are a mediator.”

Sleeping Fox Tattoo @silent.morning_tattoo

Curled Up Fox Tattoo

If you are looking for a cute fox tattoo design, you could opt for a depiction of a fox curled up and sleeping. 

This is a great option if you want a mini tattoo, and it can be a symbol of vulnerability and the soft side of your personality. 

For a small tattoo, opt for a placement that matches the design’s size. Great spots for smaller designs that won’t result in a lot of surrounding blank space include the wrist, ankle, back of the neck, and inner hip.

Nine Tailed Fox With Red Flower Tattoo @aiko_tttt

Fox And Flower Tattoo

For a larger fox tattoo – such as a sleeve – add more images to your design. Florals are fantastic elements to include in your fox tattoo, whether you want a purely black and grey tattoo or a colorful design. 

Remember, the larger and more complex your tattoo design, the more expensive your tattoo will be and the more tattoo sessions you will need.

Fox, Owl, And Nature Themed Full Leg Tattoo @alexisethomson

Here are a few tips on how to survive long and multiple tattoo appointments:

  1. Have a long and honest discussion with your chosen tattoo artist. 

Once you have found the person who you want to do your tattoo, discuss your design with them in detail and take their suggestions into consideration. They will advise on how many appointments you will need and how long it will take to complete the design. 

  1. Depending on your placement, you may need to take some time off of work. 

There are tattoo placements that are a challenge to deal with in public. For example, when you have a fresh foot tattoo, you can’t wear socks and shoes while it is healing. So it is important to plan ahead. 

Kitsune Fox Tattoo @sadi_tattooer
  1. Eat enough calories before your tattoo appointment. 

A tattoo puts a lot of stress on the body, so having enough nutrients is essential for dealing with the pain. Authority Tattoo suggests,

“If you’re going to be sitting for a particularly long session, you might want to bring a small snack and something to drink. Bring something light that’s also easy to eat, so you can have it when there’s a moment of downtime.” 

  1. Avoid the sun leading up to your appointment. 

Sunburn is uncomfortable at the best of times. Getting a tattoo while you are sunburnt can cause your body unnecessary stress. Plus, many tattoo artists will refuse to tattoo you if you have a sunburn.

Hyper Realistic Fox Tattoo @vacuo_studio
  1. Do not walk into your appointment with coffee. 

Coffee can ramp up your anxiety and result in an uncomfortable tattoo experience. Instead, focus on your hydration by drinking plenty of water. 

  1. Distract yourself from the pain. 

Download a few podcasts or have a calming playlist on hand for your tattoo appointment to help you get through the pain. 

Fox With Nine Tails Chest Tattoo @tattooassist

There is so much to admire about animals, which is why humans throughout the ages and across cultures have incorporated incredible symbolism with different species. The fox is no exception.

From their representation of intelligence to their ability to adapt to many different environments, foxes have captured our imaginations for hundreds of years. A fox tattoo can be a creative way to convey a connection to the natural world or express wit and resilience.

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