Paper Airplane Tattoo: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Paper Airplane Tattoo: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Although they may seem very simple at first glance there are actually many meanings behind the paper airplane tattoo such as reminders of childhood and travel. It can be a simple design or more complex.

When it comes to choosing the perfect tattoo designs there are typically two design routes that people follow: artistic or meaningful. Obviously, if you can find a way to marry the two then this is the ultimate in tattoo design and it almost guarantees that you will have a tattoo that you will love forever.


Smaller tattoos have long been a way for people to start their tattoo journey or fill in gaps in their sleeves or suits. However, “stickers” have recently become a trend in the world of tattooing. This is when someone gets a bunch of small random images tattooed seemingly randomly over their body, as if they had been covered in stickers by a child.

Here we will talk about the paper airplane tattoo, one of the simple and perhaps most common sticker tattoos.


What is the History of Paper Airplane Tattoos?

Paper airplane tattoos began to gain popularity in the early 2010s, especially as they gained a seemingly cult following among teenage girls on the internet with a love for travel and all things quirky. However, the design was not just the paper airplane alone but was typically followed by a few lines or dots to symbolize that the plane was in motion.

The trend didn’t stick around for too long and never gained status as a cult classic or a traditional tattoo. However, in recent years, with the animation of the sticker tattoo trend, the paper airplane has begun to make its comeback.

This may partially be due to its simplicity as well as its ability to be almost any size. The simple and clean lines allow the image the perfect design for a “sticker tattoo”.

Typically this tattoo design has been significantly more popular with women than with men and has been a popular choice to signify a girls’ trip or first holiday abroad with friends. Perhaps the design’s fine lines lend themselves to the idea of it being a more feminine tattoo.


What Do Paper Airplane Tattoos Symbolize?

Although you may think that the paper airplane tattoo is very one dimensional in its meaning, you would be wrong. Of course, the tattoo does indeed signify travel, a love for travel and a desire to spread your wings and see more of the world but there are so many other meanings.

For example, many people first learn how to make the planes in childhood and countless hours of fun can be had making and throwing these homemade toys. If there is a particular childhood memory then this tattoo can symbolize a particular time in a person’s life or even the love of childhood.

If the person, or someone that they love, is in the aviation industry, or even in the military then this type of tattoo is a very subtle way to honor them without it being too obvious or over the top. 

Even more broadly, the paper airplane can also symbolize a desire for freedom and the possibility of starting anew. It can be a symbol of new beginnings. 


What Do Paper Airplane Tattoos Mean?

Tattoo meanings are usually very personal to the person that they are tattooed on. So, for this reason, it is almost impossible to know the exact meaning behind someone’s tattoo without explicitly asking them. However, there are a few more common meanings for paper airplane tattoos.

The first meaning can be a reminder of a childhood friend or even a loved one that lives far away. We often get tattoos to remind us of people that we love or miss, whether they have passed away or are still with us.

Paper airplanes may remind us of a certain person from our childhood, someone that we used to play games with (and possibly get up to mischief with).

Nowadays with air travel being so easy, it is possible that we live apart from our loved ones. This tattoo may mean that someone is always thinking of their friend, family member or spouse that lives a plane ride away.

Another meaning behind this tattoo design is to help you let go of something and move on. This is especially true if the plane design is followed by a few lines showing the plane in motion. This shows that you are moving away from something and on to bigger and better things. 


Where Do Paper Airplane Tattoos Usually Go?

One of the best things about this tattoo is that it will suit literally anywhere on your body. There is no specific part of the body that is better suited to this shape than any other. You can choose to show off your tattoo on areas such as your forearm or wrist or choose a more subtle location such as your ribcage. The choice is entirely up to you.

Characteristics and Styles of Paper Airplane Tattoos

Typically this tattoo design is kept very simple. The biggest difference between the vast majority of these tattoos is the line thickness. The thinner the lines the daintier and more “feminine” the tattoo is typically perceived to be. 

However, many people often choose to add small extra details to the tattoo in order to personalize it depending on their meaning. For example, if your tattoo symbolizes new beginnings or travel then follow the plane with small dotted lines (typically in a loop) to show that the plane is on the move. You could even include the infinity symbol in the line to give your tattoo an extra meaning. 

If you want to add a splash of color to your tattoo you can always use “colored paper” in the tattoo and add your favorite color. Or, if the tattoo is a reminder of a childhood friend or loved one, you could use their favorite color instead. 

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