Foxes have played many different roles in traditional folklore. They are associated primarily with cleverness and cunning, wisdom, and feminine magic and divinity (in Japanese culture and Japanese tattoo designs). They are also simply beautiful animals that translate well to tattoo designs.
Native American tribes held differing views on foxes. In the North, foxes were usually seen as noble messengers, wise and calm. Plains tribes, however, viewed the fox as a wily trickster, sometimes dangerous, always unpredictable. In Japan, kitsune were fox demons, usually female, also cunning and unpredictable.
In many folk tales, foxes are adept at transformation, taking on the form of humans or disguising themselves in other ways, once again a reference to their cunning and smarts. This idea has even leaked into mainstream English usage: “to outfox”, of course, meaning to out-smart or out-wit.
This idea of the fox as clever and quick-thinking spans virtually all cultures, and this stems from a simple fact: foxes in the wild are clever.
Most people who get fox tattoos choose a red fox as opposed to the grey, both because they’re more iconic and because the reds and oranges used in coloring them can produce some really beautiful designs.
Foxes have appeared in children’s books and movies often and are popularly considered one of nature’s cuter animals. Those attracted to the cuteness of red foxes sometimes stick to a cartoonish, stylized design as opposed to a photorealistic one to enhance this effect.
Fox tattoos are more common for women than men, though there is no real traditional precedent for this culturally outside of Asia (the aforementioned kitsune frequently took the form of a beautiful woman). Perhaps it’s that they’re viewed as a more gentle, graceful animal than many others, even those close to them in species such as wolves (See wolf tattoo designs).
Some designs forgo the use of color altogether, opting for a black outline and, sometimes, tribal stylizations. This lends a slightly more powerful, aggressive tone to the image.
Photorealistic fox tattoos can be very well done. The level of technical skill required to capture the coloring and texture of fur is high, but when it’s done right the effects are immediately visible.
On men, tribal and realistic fox designs are more common than the cuter, cartoonish style.
Whether someone just loves the look of foxes, is a supporter of wildlife, or wants to appeal to the idea of foxes as quick-witted and cunning, they’ve got plenty of fox tattoo design options to choose from.