So you’re looking to get some ink. Whether you’re just starting out or adding to the collection you’ve already got going, a small tattoo is a great option to keep in mind. Even for the man who would generally opt for a sleeve, a stand-alone tattoo is a great way to showcase a single design. There’s no harm in picking something that’s a little smaller, in fact, here’s proof. We’ve picked out the best small tattoos for men who like a little ink.
RELATED: 35 Best Tattoo Ideas for Men
1. Chest Tattoo
While many men think that a big chest tattoo is the best option when tattooing this area, a small and simple tattoo can even look better. If you’re planning to build the tatt down your arms, then a large chest piece will lock it all together and look fantastic, otherwise, always go small.
2. Wrist Tattoo
If you are looking to get a wrist tattoo, you will want to opt for a smaller design. The wrist is a nice and flat piece of skin to work with so many designs will look good here. If it’s your first tattoo, it’s a decent spot to experiment with to see whether you’ll want to get more.
3. Arm Tattoo
Depending on the size and length of the tattoo, think of where it’ll look best. If it’s something really small, you might want to think of placing it at the very top of the arm. Otherwise, the back of the arm is another good location, just above your elbow. If the design has some length, smack bang in the middle of the arm will look great. You want to be careful when picking your placement for your arm tattoo because you don’t want to end up with something that looks like it doesn’t belong there.
4. Forearm Tattoo
Your forearm is the perfect size for a small forearm tattoo design. Also, with its surface area, there’s so much to choose from. It’s a decent area for a lengthy script that won’t simply fit across your wrist. Otherwise, you could also opt for a cool shape or design that sits just below where your arm bends.
5. Back Tattoo
If you’re getting one individual small back tattoo, keep to the upper back. Either the side or middle of the back is a great location. Though keep in mind that whichever you chose, you want it to be centered. This means placing it either down your spine or right inline between your shoulder and neck.
6. Hand Tattoo
The hand is a perfect spot when getting a small tattoo. However, while they look awesome, when you first get them done, they’re prone to quickly fade and blow out. This means that the ink will become thicker. Usually, this happens because our hands spend a fair amount of time in the water, which affects the hand tattoo. If you’re set on this location, by all means, get it done. Though keep this info in mind and maybe speak to your artist about it before you get it done.
7. Shoulder Tattoo
The top of the shoulder is a sizeable place to fit the script or something that creeps slightly up the neck. If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo on the front or back of your shoulder, a small design usually looks best in this positioning, though a single word does fit nicely there as well.
8. Neck Tattoo
If you’re thinking about getting a neck tattoo, then you’re brave. It’s generally an area that you get inked if you’ve already got a fair few tattoos. However, if it’s your location of choice and you want something small, you’ve got plenty to choose from. Either writing or symbols going down the side or back of the neck or a small piece of art located roughly behind the ear are a good way to go.
9. Face Tattoo
Before you get a face tattoo, really think it through. If you’ve done so and you’re still set on the idea, the best location to place your it is along your cheekbone. This is probably not the best location if this is your first tatt. You might want to try something more subtle to begin with and work your way up to something as bold as this.
10. Rib Tattoo
While the ribs might be a little bit prickly to get done, it’s a great location for a small tatt for many reasons. It’s easy to hide under clothing, and it’s a big space to plant a small tatt, meaning you’ve got many location choices, such as right on the side of your body or slightly to the front or back. Both art and text look great here, making it a versatile spot.
11. Leg Tattoo
Leg tattoos give you a lot of location choices. You’ve got to decide if you want it on the thigh or lower leg, then whether you plan to place it on the back, front, or side. Think of the design that you want and then decide where the best placement will be for it. You can play around with your choices before making the final decision.
12. Foot Tattoo
The surface area of your foot only allows for a small design. Therefore it’s an easy choice of placement if you don’t want your tattoo to look lonely amongst all your fresh skin. It’s also an easily hideable location, which is handy if you don’t want it to be on display 24/7. If you have decided on tattooing your foot, you might want to think about your pain threshold. Sure it’ll be a small tattoo so it won’t take too long to do. However, it will be a bit bitey while you’re getting it done.
13. Cross Tattoo
Crosses are a great way to show your faith while they’re also really manly. Either a thick black cross or an intricate rosary design looks masculine, even when they’re smaller in size. If you’re tossing up where to get it, the hand/fingers, back, chest and wrist are all great locations for a cross tattoo.
14. Crown Tattoo
You’ve got two options with a crown tattoo. You can either get a black outline of a crown, or you can make it detailed. Small tattoos tend to look amazing when they’re intricately designed; you just have to make sure that you find the right artist. Generally, you’ll want to find someone who specializes in fine lines for the best possible result.
15. Tribal Tattoo
A small tribal tattoo band either wrapped around the wrist, upper arm or ankle is a good alternative for a full tribal sleeve. Even with a small design, you can still make it as intricate or as simple as you like. If you’re not that interested in tattoos, you can still honor your ancestors by opting for something much smaller than they may have got.
16. Animal Tattoo
Animal tattoos are such a fun design, whether you’re getting a replica of your beloved pet or your spirit animal. You can play around with your design such as adding geometric shapes or getting a picture added inside the body of the animal. For instance, if you get a bear, you can incorporate a forest into the design. Portrait animal tattoos can also look detailed and realistic if you get them done by a good artist. When getting any tattoo a lot of thought should be put into the type of artist that will be able to fit your design brief.
17. Meaningful Tattoo
You might not like the idea of creating a huge mural on your skin; you might just want a small meaningful tattoo to honor someone or something that means a lot to you. That’s completely fine, a small symbol, picture, or quote that either reminds or links you to them is all you need and you can get it in as discreet a location as you choose.
18. Skull Tattoo
Whether you’re simply getting the outline of a skull or wanting to make it look realistic, a small design will suffice. Just as much detail can be added as if you were to get one triple the size or buried within a sleeve. Skull tattoos always look quite mean, so there will be no questioning of your masculinity with this design.
19. Lettering Tattoo
Small lettering in simple script generally looks a lot better than big, bold writing. It’s usually a good idea to find a fine lines artist for quality lettering as you don’t want the words to blow out or be so bold that it’s hard to read the script, especially if the writing is small in size. Small lettering allows for so many different fonts as well, so you’ll have no shortage of choices when making your decision.
20. Portrait Tattoo
Portrait tattoos don’t have to take up the entire side of your ribs. They can still be very detailed when they’re smaller in size. Most portrait tattoos are either of a bible character, a historian, a famous person, the deceased, or an immediate family member. When getting a portrait, you should always give your tattooist a picture to work off. The tattoo will look exactly like the picture so be certain of your choice when picking the perfect shot.
21. Star Tattoo
If you’re after a small tattoo but you’re not sure what design to get, a star tattoo is an easy one, especially if it’s your first tattoo and you don’t want anything too drastic. It can be as simple as an outline of a star or completely blacked out. Otherwise, if you want it to have some meaning, you could consider getting the star of Bethlehem, a star from the Australian flag, or any other design that may resonate with you.
22. Angel Tattoo
Angel tattoos generally have a deep emotional meaning behind them. Some of these may include spirituality, protection, strength, love or remembrance of someone who has passed. Whatever your reason is for wanting an angel tattoo, keep in mind that you can get a smaller design. While many angel tattoos tend to be larger, it is possible to pick a design that you like and shrink it. The design may need to be tweaked a little, but at least then it will be unique to you.
23. Music Tattoo
Music tattoos are an easy one as most designs are typically pretty small. Popular designs include records, music notes and the outline of a guitar or other instrument. These designs are usually kept pretty simple as well and for the most part, are only done using black ink.
24. Feature Tattoo
Feature tattoos can be created using any design you want. Usually, they involve a shape with an image in the center, and they’re generally small to medium in size. Feature tattoos are usually done with things like a comic book or tv character, creating a fun and different spin on your design.
25. Scorpion Tattoo
Scorpion tattoos look manly, no matter what size it is. While the outline of the scorpion doesn’t leave much room for creativity, the design of the body does. You can make the scorpion look as realistic and three dimensional or as cartoon-like as you want. Another popular scorpion design is also a tribal print if that’s fitting for your background.
26. Name Tattoo
Name tattoos are a great sentiment towards the one whose name you get inked. It doesn’t have to be very large in size to get the message across that you love them. Much like lettering tattoos, it’s best to find a fine lines artist for the job. You don’t want the words to blow out or be bold enough that it’s hard to read the script.
27. Money Tattoo
There are so many different designs to choose from when it comes to money. You can either simply get a note or coin tattooed; otherwise, if you want to be creative, you could opt for something like a rose made out of notes or the monopoly logo. Again, money is the kind of tattoo where no matter the size, it looks pretty masculine.
Where should guys get small tattoos?
The most common places to get a small tattoo are the wrist, forearm, ankle, foot, neck, face, rib, and hand.
What are the most popular tattoos for guys?
The most popular tattoo designs for men are tribal, skull, phoenix, dragon, lion, wolf, flower, compass, religious, nautical, and crown.
Are tattoos attractive on males?
Women think men look healthier with a tattoo. However, tattoos don’t make a man look more or less attractive. Tattoos can signal impulsiveness and a propensity for risk-taking.
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