Puffin Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Puffin Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Puffins are not a bird easily forgotten. These North Atlantic beauties are quite the characters, looking rather like dignified little clowns that Nature has truly blessed with some eye-popping colors. With that in mind, what do Puffin tattoos mean, anyways?

Today we’ll tackle this subject and tell you a little about Puffins tattoos in history, various meanings associated with these birds, and even some popular placements. If you are looking for something beautiful and unique, you could do a lot worse than the Puffin – read on and we’ll tell you why!


What is the History of Puffin Tattoos?

Considered to be the official ‘mascot bird; of Iceland, the Puffin was officially considered ‘discovered’ in the year 1760, when a French Zoologist by the name of Mathurin Jacques Brisson officially assigned the bird the genus “Fratercula”, which means ‘little brother’.

Of course, we’ve known about them for much longer and while they are Iceland’s mascot these days, they’ve been hunted and considered quite the delicacy for a few hundred years. While historical lore is scarce, the Sagas record that in the 11th century the hero Grettir the Strong met his end on a ‘Puffin island’ called Drangey.

Puffins can’t be blamed, however, as it was a cursed piece of driftwood that was sent by a witch which laid Grettir low. When he went to chop it for firewood, his axe bounced off of it, and infection did the rest of the work!

Puffins certainly do have their fans, however, and these ‘Clowns of the Sea’ have been making their appearance in the form of Puffin tattoos for as long as people have been sailing through the North Atlantic. They’re simply too memorable and colorful to resist!


What Do Puffin Tattoos Symbolize?

To understand the symbolism behind the Puffin you need to know a little the bird itself. For instance, while they tend to be monogamous, it seems to be more of a choice than an instinct. These birds choose a mate and they meet year after year, but not always – it’s rare, but sometimes they can and DO change mates.

So, a Puffin tattoo can symbolize one who keeps coming back to the one that they love, by choice, rather than as a ‘duty’.

It’s a bit more romantic that way, after all. Puffin tattoos can also symboliize that someone has served a term in the Navy and spent a lot of time in the North Atlantic, where these birds are famous.

More often than not, however, Puffins tend to be an aesthetic choice. They are colorful, memorable, and just exotic enough that symbolism isn’t necessarily a prerequisite. Puffins are beautiful and amusing enough that Puffin tattoos often exist just because they are fine subjects for artistic rendition on skin.

Art is art, after all, and not all skin art has to have a specific message. Sometimes it’s just about natural beauty.


What Do Puffin Tattoos Mean?

Puffins are both beautiful and comical creatures and a Puffin tattoo might communicate that the owner has quite the unique sense of humor. A friendly soul who is always ready with a wisecrack and very much the individual.

Puffin tattoos are sometimes worn as a ‘badge’ of sorts to represent North Atlantic travel, as these are the waters where you will find these lovey birds, and a Puffin tattoo can also mean someone who has chosen monogamy with a special someone, as this is a bird that almost always comes back to their mate year after year.

Puffins are also sometimes just there to add a bit of color to an island scene, as these unforgettable birds are very much ‘easy on the eyes’, so it’s going to be a matter of context when it comes to interpretation.

With that said, the final most common meaning when you see Puffin tattoos is that the owner loves birds and let’s face it, they’ve made an excellent skin art choice in the form of the Puffin bird!


Where Do Puffin Tattoos Usually Go?

The outer (and usually upper) arm is a popular place for Puffin tattoos, as this makes the colorful birds quite visible so that they may be easily appreciated by all. That’s not to say that you won’t see the occasional ankle-puffin, but when they are not readily visible then a Puffin tattoo is much more likely to be on a backpiece.

With the coloration and fine details that go into depicting these birds, they make for an excellent addition to a larger piece of skin art and the back is one of the best places to choose if you want to render something with a lot of detail.

On the back, you don’t have to rely on just the color, but you could even go with a photorealistic work of art that shows the Puffins face and it could look almost like an actual photo. It’s all up to you, but with the choice of such an iconic bird, the end result is sure to be a work of art.


Characteristics and Styles of Puffin Tattoos

Puffins actually fit well in many different styles. While photorealistic is nice, much more minimalist Puffins are also a popular choice, and tend to portray the humorous side of the birds and subsequently – of the tattoo’s owner.

Pictured at play or posing at it waddles along on its way, the Puffin could even be depicted in flight. While they look similar to Penguins, these birds can and do fly at around 55 miles per hour, generally at a height of around 30 feet.

Aside from realistic of minimalist styles, these birds also look good as New School tattoo subjects, and we’ve even seen Tribal type Puffins, so be sure to get a design in your mind and then spend a little time checking your options. Often that final style that you decide on is what really makes the end product stand out!


Some closing comments on Puffin tattoos

Cute, comical, and famous, the North Atlantic Puffin is definitely a wonderful choice for a tattoo for the right type of person.

If you love birds or have travelled the North Atlantic, then Puffin tattoos might just be a perfect way to express these things, or you might simply choose them to express your own personality.

Puffin tattoos are also a perfect choice if you just want to create a beautiful tattoo. With all the color and detail, you’ve got everything you need to produce some jaw-dropping art, and if some symbolism creeps in or not — you’ve still created something that you can enjoy for a lifetime!

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