Tattoos are a profoundly intimate form of body modification. People may have similar tattoos, but they will likely hold different meanings for each of them. When encountering a person with an angel and devil tattoo, its symbolism can often be misconstrued, considering what the devil is said to represent.
A tattoo of an angel and devil can symbolize the dichotomy within a human being. It represents the good, evil, dark, and light we encompass. For some, it’s a reminder or an acknowledgment of this. A tattoo’s true meaning will always depend on the person it appears.
To understand this seemingly polar opposite combination of two beings and its more profound significance, first look at them individually. What do they represent on their own, and what do they symbolize when portrayed together?
The Symbolism Of An Angel Tattoo
Angels have been depicted in artwork for centuries. The first known one is said to date back to the 4th century. While angels have their roots in religious affiliations, they are now seen as more spiritual and do not find themselves associated with any particular religion. They appear in many different art forms and are quite prevalent in the tattoo industry.
Angels symbolize goodness, light, faith, the divine spiritual realm, innocence, purity, love, and calm. These are the general characteristics that one has come to believe an angel possesses. An angel tattoo may represent all these traits; however, angels also have particular “functions.”
They are very busy beings. They serve as messengers, protectors, guardians, guides, and miracle workers. A tattoo of an angel will therefore serve as a symbol of protection. Or it can be a reminder of your faith, the will to be good, and sometimes, to honor a loved one that has passed on.
Imagery And Symbols Used For Angel Tattoos
Sometimes angels aren’t necessarily portrayed as an entire figure when interpreted by a tattoo artist. Specific iconography that has come to represent angels is used instead.
The angelic nature of the tattoo will be further signified by the use of light colors, fine wispy lines, and delicate shading.
Symbolism And Significance Of A Devil Tattoo
The devil being the antithesis of an angel, may cause concern for people who encounter someone with a permanent image of this being on their body. The symbolism behind a devil tattoo may surprise you.
The devil shares many similarities with the angel. Take into consideration that they both have their roots in religion and have been appearing in artwork for centuries. Interestingly the first known depiction of the devil or Satan is traced back to the 6th century.
Who Is The Devil?
Unlike angels, the devil is known to be one particular being, and specific texts will also say that the devil was once God’s most beautiful angel known as Lucifer. He now exists as a fallen angel associated with the underworld or Hell.
What Does A Devil Tattoo Symbolize?
Interestingly enough, there seem to be more complexities regarding the symbolism of the devil when compared to that of an angel.
At a glance (perhaps even a slightly misinformed one), you could interpret a tattoo of a devil as indicative of evil, malice, darkness, punishment, loose morals, defiance, pain, and spite. While these things could hold true depending on the person with the tattoo, generally speaking, a devil tattoo is not nearly as ominous as some may think it to be.
Tattoos of the devil are thought to serve as a kind of protection against other forms of evil. It could also be representative of a person’s more rebellious nature, a nod to any inner demons* or turmoil they have fought to overcome or struggle with, or feelings of being an outsider.
*it’s important to note that a demon and the devil are not the same beings. Demons are considered to be the devil’s “worker bees.”
Imagery And Symbols That Represent The Devil
While angels aren’t known to be any one specific gender, the devil is shown as being a figure that is predominantly male in appearance. I say “predominantly” because the devil is sometimes shown to be half man and half animal. The animal usually is of the hooved variety, like a goat.
Like angel tattoos, the devil does not have to be inked out as an entire form. Many symbols capture the essence and can stand alone as a devilish tattoo.
Some examples include:
- Fire/ flames
- Long pointed tail
- Upside down cross
Unlike its angelic counterpart, devil tattoos are often done using bold lines and imagery. Dark colors, shades of red and sharp lines are used to enhance the tattoo’s devilishness further.
The Meaning Of A Tattoo With Both An Angel And A Devil
You could easily deduce the obvious symbolism or meaning of a tattoo that shows both angel and devil at a glance. However, the placement, style, size, portrayal, and positioning of the figures, color, and shading will give insight into the ink’s true and perhaps deeper meaning.
Within most human beings exists a duality. Dark and light. Good and bad. One cannot exist without the other. A tattoo of an angel and devil side by side is one way of showing an acknowledgment of this dynamic.
It is pretty standard that, as a human, we sometimes struggle with these opposing sides within ourselves. No one can or should be “good” all the time. And no one can or should be “bad” all the time. Like the Yin and Yang symbol, the angel and devil show a sort of balance and ownership of the complexities and struggles that reside within us.
In some tattoos, one of the figures may appear more dominant. This dynamic can be articulated through the figure’s stance, size, and expression. The dominant figure could represent the more dominant aspect of someone’s personality, the prevalence of struggles they have faced, or their constant battle to rise above hardships.
We’ve all seen the cartoons showing a character faced with a decision with the stereotypical red devil appearing on one shoulder and the winged halo-adorned angel on the other.
In these cartoons, the devil is always shown to give obviously lousy advice.
As adults, we understand that sometimes the advice that may seem “bad” to others doesn’t always have our best interests at heart. Sometimes we need a selfish “devil may care” attitude for our own self-preservation.
The Significance Of Placement Of An Angel And Devil Tattoo
When the angel and devil appear together in one image, it will more than likely require a larger area. While the placement of a tattoo can just come down to preference, there are those who believe that it holds a deeper meaning.
It may just sound like pop psychology, but considering the depth behind a tattoo of an angel and devil, the location could very likely hold some fascinating insight.
- Back – A tattoo on the back shows quiet confidence. Although It is an area that is generally covered up, back tattoos are much larger in scale, so it’s almost something of a secret. A person with a tattoo in this area will never look at it directly but will be aware of its presence. This placement indicates a lack of vanity. But also the confidence for it to be seen by people in specific settings. A tattoo on the back could serve as a “protection” from things creeping up from behind you.
- Forearm/Arm – Depending on the size, these tattoos aren’t as easily concealed, which shows confidence and an openness to receiving attention. Many industries frown upon or prohibit employees from having visible tattoos. When a person has a tattoo that is visible to the naked eye, it shows a sort of rebellion toward the status quo and the desire to live their lives by their own rules.
- Neck – Neck placements are in your face, daring, and bold. (Provided you don’t have a lot of hair covering it up). A person with a tattoo in this area gives off a “tough guy” not to be messed with kind of attitude. This part of the body is known in the tattoo industry as one of the more painful places to get inked and needled. This is because the skin in this area is relatively thin and sensitive. Thus further demonstrating the person’s resolve.
- Chest – Another larger area means the tattoo here could be big or small depending on the person. This placement shows confidence and could also hold sincere meaning, given its close proximity to the heart. It can also serve as a symbolic protection front anything coming towards you, giving you the confidence to strive forward.
- Ribcage – Thin-skinned and close to the bone, the ribcage is another excruciating area for placement. People with tattoos in these areas show resilience and confidence. This area could be covered up, displayed, or merely hinted at subtly. It shows playfulness but also a person to shy away from pain.
Angel And Devil Tattoos On Separate Parts Of The Body
In some instances, the angel and devil won’t appear side by side or in the same image. The angel could be placed on one part of the body and the devil on the opposite body part. This would be a more telling indication of the two contrasting sides of someone’s personality.
It still shows that both the angel/devil traits exist within them, but perhaps there is more of a conflict than a coexistence at times. Or it could represent how they allow themselves to be perceived by certain people and how they see themselves. This portrayal is interchangeable between devil and angel.
When appearing separately, the tattoo itself can be smaller in size, thereby allowing for it to be placed in smaller areas opposite each other, for example, on each shoulder, wrist, foot, or behind each ear.
Variations Of A Devil And Angel Tattoo
As previously stated, tattoos with both of these beings do not necessarily have to show the figures in their entirety or even at all. The symbolism associated with the angel and devil is definitive enough for any person to make the correct associations. It is not uncommon to see a tattoo of these symbols intertwined, for example, a halo resting on devil horns.
Sometimes there is no distinct separation, and an amalgamation can appear on one figure. Think of a person with wings, horns, a halo, and a pointed tail.
Does The Style Of The Tattoo Influence it is meaning?
A very significant way of further illustrating the meaning behind a tattoo is the choice of style in which it is inked.
According to Mr. Inkwells’ blog post, there are 13 different tattoo styles.
With some of these styles in mind, this is how a person’s angel/devil tattoo may be interpreted and what it might say about them.
|Cartoonish||Playful, light-hearted, not someone who takes things too seriously|
|Fine Line||Elegant, a bit more reserved|
|Tribal||Edgy, complex, wants to be noticed|
|Blackwork||Classic, bold, quietly confident|
|Realism||Earnest, deeper, heartfelt meaning, perfectionist, thoughtful|
|Trash Polka||Bold, in-your-face, aggressive, rebellious|
|Black And Grey||Classic, introspective|
These interpretations are not a set of rules but an idea.
With all the information as to what the meaning of an angel and devil tattoo could imply, you might have a general understanding. However, the only person that can tell you the true meaning of any tattoo is the person on whom you find it. Tattoos in themselves are complex in that they can be immensely personal and yet out on display for anyone to see.
Ask them what it means if you are curious about the reasoning, meaning, or idea behind a person’s tattoo. You’ll often come away with an anecdote, a memory they have shared with you, or a glimpse into who they are.
The way in which the person responds to your question will be very telling about their character too. Don’t be too quick to judge those with tattoos that seem scary to you.
Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you
Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.
Design and tattoo ideas
For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):
- Great Book of Tattoo Designs, Revised Edition: More than 500 Body Art Designs (Fox Chapel Publishing) Fantasy, Celtic, Floral, Wildlife, and Symbol Designs for the Skin by Lora Irish
- The Big Book of Small Tattoos – Vol.1: 400 small original tattoos for women and men by Roberto Gemori
- Tiny Tattoos: Over 1,000 Small Inspirational Artworks by Rebecca Vincent.
If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).
The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):