Rainbow Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Rainbow Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Rainbow tattoos can mean a lot of things because the rainbow is used in so many different areas, for example with children’s toys, in reference to lost children and as a sign of gay pride.

If you’re looking at getting a rainbow tattoo, unless it has a personal meaning to you that you are already very aware of you may want to consider what else the rainbow stands for to ensure that this is still the right tattoo for you.

Here we will cover the history of the rainbow tattoo, what it means and also popular placements for the tattoo. To find out everything you need to know, keep reading!


What is the History of Rainbow Tattoos?

Throughout history the rainbow has held a lot of different meanings and has significantly changed in its meaning throughout history. Rainbows hold older significance in reference to God and his promise of a good life and being protected.

Rainbows in popular culture have also been used on children’s products, possibly due to the bright colors and the array of colors. For this reason rainbows have also been used a popular nursery decorations and have come to be a symbol of children, including infant loss.

In modern times, rainbows have become most commonly recognized as a symbol of gay pride, with the colors being used as flags at pride events. 

However, despite all of these different meanings the rainbow has not been a particular popular tattoo. Many people have opted to include the rainbow colors into other tattoo as a way of introducing color into the tattoo rather than using the actual shape of the rainbow itself.


What Do Rainbow Tattoos Symbolize?

Because of the sheer amount of meanings behind the rainbow, there are numerous different things that a rainbow tattoo can have and for this reason there is no single meaning that you can assume if you see the tattoo on someone else. 

Rainbow tattoo can symbolize a Christian meaning, in the sense that God made a rainbow appear to Noah after the great flood as a promise of better things to come. Because of its beauty, the rainbow has also been seen as a sign of the divine and God’s creation.

This type of tattoo can also symbolize a love for a child. The rainbow has been used as a sign of the birth of a child after child loss, this is known as a “rainbow baby”. In these cases some parents may choose to get a rainbow tattoo as a reminder of the child that they lost and also as a reminder of how thankful they are for having a healthy child.

This tattoo can also symbolize hope and that things will get better. The reason for this is that rainbows need rain in order to appear (hence the name!) and so you should always look out for the good even when things seem bad. They are a sign of hope and of better things to come, positive thinking and a brighter future.


What Do Rainbow Tattoos Mean?

Depending on the person, rainbow tattoos can be a lot of different things or simply nothing at all! Although many people opt for tattoos that have a deep and personal meaning, some people also choose tattoos just because they are pretty and look good next to their other tattoos.

The rainbow is a great example of this because many people are simply drawn to it because of the beautiful array of colors and the fact that they can be bright or muted, bold or understated. 

As stated above there are many different meanings behind rainbow tattoo and there is no one meaning that applies to all of them. So, if you want to know the meaning behind someone’s rainbow tattoo then you may simply have to ask them (politely of course).


Characteristics and Styles of Rainbow Tattoos

Rainbows are an incredibly diverse as a tattoo. You can choose to make the rainbow a statement and opt for bold and bright colors to make your tattoo really stand out. You can also either choose to include the rainbow arch shape and really make the meaning behind your inclusion of the rainbow obvious, or you can choose to incorporate the colors into another shape or design. 

In the case that you want one or more meanings behind a tattoo, including just the rainbow coloring is a great and simple way to do this. If you have a very complicated idea then ask your tattoo artist’s advice as they will be able to tell you if your idea works.


You can also opt for a more subtle design. Instead of opting for bright colors in your rainbow tattoo, you can choose muted colors, such as pastels, giving your tattoo a much softer look and allowing to blend in more to your body and other tattoos. 

Some people also choose to forgo the colors altogether and just simply have the lines. You can choose to connect these lines using bold and thick black lines, or you can have delicate, fine individual lines in the shape of an arch.

The great thing about choosing a rainbow tattoo is that there is no one single way to design the tattoo. It is incredibly adaptable and you can choose the perfect design to suit you and your style.


Where Do Rainbow Tattoos Usually Go?

Rainbow tattoos are typically not the largest of pieces and so they are often incorporated into other pieces and other designs or inked on more delicate areas. Some of these include the rib cage, the ankle, the shoulder and the wrist. 

However, in the case that you opt for a more cartoony design this would look great as part of a larger sleeve design, especially if you choose a cartoon style for the entire sleeve. This would give the rainbow a prominent placement on your body but not make it sound out too much from the rest of the tattoos surrounding it.

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