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Spider Web Tattoos: Meanings, Ideas, and Pictures

Richard Hale is a tattoo enthusiast who studies and researches tattoo symbolism, meanings, and history.

If you're considering a tattoo of a spider's web, take some time to research its meanings and significance. Find some design ideas here, too!

If you're considering a tattoo of a spider's web, take some time to research its meanings and significance. Find some design ideas here, too!

Although they are sometimes portrayed negatively, spider web tattoos are still a popular tattoo choice. They are classified as an old-school tattoo design, and even though these tattoos can represent negative elements, they can also symbolize positive attributes. Spider web tattoos are most commonly inked on the elbows.

In this article, we will discuss and view spider web tattoos and designs. We will also talk about the meanings and history of these tattoos. We hope that you are able to leave inspired with ideas for your next tattoo.

What Does a Spider Web Tattoo Mean or Represent?

One of the most criticized tattoos of the past and present is the spider web tattoo. For the most part, it is linked to things that are negative, such as racism, prison, murder, gangs, and violence. However, in modern times, the spider web tattoo has become associated with positive meanings, too. This tattoo has a rich history, and we will take a closer look at this popular tattoo symbol.


The spider web tattoo has been a longtime symbol of incarceration. It has been a symbol of serving time behind bars for decades. The tattoo began to gain popularity in the 1970s and 1980s as more and more inmates got it inked to mark their time served. In fact, as far as prison tattoos go, the spider web ranks just below the famous teardrop tattoo. Just as the spider web tattoo can, the teardrop tattoo represents time spent behind bars.

White Supremacy

Although the spider web tattoo can be used to symbolize time spent in prison, there is a much darker history to this tattoo than most know. The tattoo was also a symbol of white supremacy groups. They were inked on the elbows to symbolize their loyalty to their group.

Spider web tattoos gained popularity in prison systems all across the United States during the late 1900s. Even in modern times, the tattoo is still a popular prison tattoo. But in the late 1970s, to wear such a tattoo would come at great cost. Many white supremacy groups had rules when it came to the spider web tattoo. Some groups required that you would have to kill a minority before you could wear such a tattoo. This link has given the tattoo a negative perspective, and rightfully so.

Even though this tattoo has been viewed as a symbol of prison and racism, in modern times, it is not as negative. In fact, the tattoo can be associated with several positive meanings. When you take a moment to view the piece, it is truly a work of art. It is almost like the web's creator is an engineer. It is then that we can find the true meaning surrounding all the negativity behind the spider web tattoo.

Native American History or Culture

The spider web has been associated and linked to the Native Americans for centuries. The spider web is also linked to the dreamcatcher and Spider Woman, who is a Native American spirit. Spider Woman was a very important figure to several different Native American tribes. She would weave protective webs over the cradleboards of all newborns. By doing this, the newborns were protected from all that is bad. As a tattoo, the spider web can symbolize protection.

Public Perception Today

Thus, the spider web tattoo can symbolize both positive and negative meanings. If you are thinking about getting one, you should be aware of how it will be viewed by others. The public's perspective is negative and probably will be for years to come. We shouldn't judge someone for wearing this tattoo, though, because it doesn't mean that they are a racist, criminal, or a former inmate.

Today, the tattoo is appreciated for its true value as a popular tattoo symbol, and it should be. But even so, if you choose this tattoo, don't be surprised if you are labeled. This is something you have to take into consideration.

Spider Web Symbolism

As you have read, the spider web tattoo represents both positive and negative meanings. It is important that you learn and fully understand all the meanings behind this design. Below are some meanings and symbols associated with the tattoo.

  • Incarceration
  • Death
  • Beauty
  • Design
  • Magic
  • Protection
  • Safety
  • Prison
  • Radical
  • White Supremacy
  • Evil
  • Creativity

As you have already read in this article, it is very important to know what this tattoo can stand for and represent. It may take decades, if not longer, for the spider web tattoo to shake such negative associations. It is possible that it never will.

Other Symbols Used With the Web

This tattoo can also be designed with several different symbols. Of course, the most popular is the spider.

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Read More from Tatring

Black Widow Spider

The most popular spider chosen for this tattoo is the black widow. The black widow is a deadly spider famous for its bright red hourglass symbol located on its back. The female black widow is also known for eating her mate once she no longer has a need for him. The black widow may represent death, evil, power, or strength. It is also possible that one may choose the black widow tattoo to symbolize a near-death experience.

Other Options

Besides spiders, there are a few different symbols that can be considered:

  • Since they are usually inked on the elbows, someone may consider getting a star inked on the ball of the elbow.
  • You could use a few different symbols, such as a heart, diamond, or skull.
  • Since these tattoos are often viewed as a dark symbol, such tattoo designs may include graves, vampires, or other Gothic symbols.

Things to Consider Before Getting a Tattoo

There are some important things you should remember before you go to get tattooed. Make sure you take the time to research your tattoo and understand what it fully means. The spider web tattoo is one of those tattoo symbols that holds both positive and negative meanings. You don't want to get a tattoo and find out later it means the complete opposite.

Many people get tattoos on impulse. Truth be told, most of them regret that decision later on down the road. Remember, this is something that you will wear for the rest of your life. Even with our technology today, not all tattoos can be fixed. Make sure you are completely satisfied with your choice before you get inked.

© 2012 Richard Ricky Hale


Manuel m carillo on October 19, 2019:

this is a good page can you send me like tattoo stuff or ideas im new on this

Richard Ricky Hale (author) from West Virginia on June 06, 2012:







Thank you all for taking the time to drop by. Many thanks my friends.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on June 05, 2012:

Love those spider web tattoos.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on June 04, 2012:

I like the web with the heart..All are beautiful..Voted up my friend..

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on June 04, 2012:

I did not know about that association between the spider web and prison. I always thought it was just another tattoo picture. Thanks for the knowledge. Voting this Up and Interesting.

BeyondMax from Sydney, Australia on June 04, 2012:

This is very interesting. I think it's tough to fight preconception, I heard a lot about people still seeing it as a negative symbolism. So yeah, if anyone wants to do it, it's better to think it over twice. I personally like it, spider web itself is a nature wonder. Great hub!

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on June 04, 2012:

once again you are on top of your tattoo game!

lovedoctor926 on June 03, 2012:

This is a very interesting hub. Thank you for sharing this information. I learned something new today. I've never noticed the spider tattoo on anyone. Thanks for sharing

Richard Ricky Hale (author) from West Virginia on June 03, 2012:

KJ, once again thanks for taking the time to read it. It is a tattoo one should consider carefully. It really shows why it is important to research your tattoo before getting it inked on. Thanks again and best wishes.

kjforce from Florida on June 03, 2012: did it again..beautifully written, well done research..this has been so of my many favorites in the series...thanks for sharing..

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