Raven tattoos can have many meanings. This is not surprising, as the raven itself has a vast amount of meaning attached to it, not to mention many stories — both widely known, and more obscure.
One of these stories can be used for raven tattoos as a symbol of transformation. The raven is said to be a shape shifter. A depiction of this might be of a large figure with the head and wings of the raven, and the body of a man. The dark black color of this bird also makes it a symbol of mystery; in this depiction, you could show a red velvet curtain attached to the outstretched wings of the raven, the curtain just barely hiding the secret that lay hidden
behind it. You could also use a similar style to show a dark night mingled with the raven, who is carrying away the starry sky behind it to reveal a brilliant sunrise.
Raven tattoos may also show their place in literature. One example of this is, of course, of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem ‘The Raven.’ You could depict a simple scene of this stark bird sitting upon the bust of Pallas, looking down with a sinister expression on its face. For a more simplistic depiction of the raven in literature you could place a portrait image of the raven, cawing menacingly at the onlooker whilst standing in the pages of an open book. The book may be very detailed, and even have an excerpt from a specific story or poem.
Alongside literature, raven tattoos can also utilize the many myths of this bird. You could
easily recreate an 18th century illustration of two ravens perched on the shoulder of Odin,
whispering secrets into his ear; or, an oversized raven freeing small men from a large clam.
The raven is seen as something of a mediator between life and death. There are many myths that depict this idea, and these stories can also be recreated in tattoo art. For instance, a raven pulling the spirit from a person’s body and carrying it off to its destination. For a darker depiction, you could utilize some of the older illustrations to create the image of the raven sitting upon the gallows.
Although the birds themselves are quite simple in appearance, raven tattoos are anything but simple. The history, mythology and overall beliefs in this creature make it a great piece of art in any medium.