Full Guide to Tattoo Placement


People who are really into tattoos can often be heard saying that their own body is the best canvas for tattoo art. It’s the most intimate and personal way to express yourself, and the fact that tattoos are permanent means that they become a part of who you are. They become an integral part of your identity. This is why it’s also important to make sure you choose the best possible body placement for your tattoo.

Several Things to Think About

It’s always good to live in the moment, but there are definitely a few things worth thinking about when it comes to the placement of your tattoo. Some areas are better than others, especially if you want the design to look good well into the future.

Catching the Sun

Even though you might think that the ink is permanent, it can still be affected by the elements. One thing that will damage the skin and fade a tattoo over time is too much exposure to the sun. Not only will skin damage obscure the fine lines of a tattoo, but it will fade many inks too.

The solution is to have the tattoo placed on a part of the body that is often covered up, or to use sunblock on the tattooed areas if you’re planning on catching a lot of sunlight.

Keep the Wrinkles at Bay

If you’re planning on the tattoo looking good as you get older, you might want to place it on a part of your body that’s not subject to wrinkling or too much shape change. For example, a tattoo right on the abdomen might look great when you’re young, but if you happen to put on lots of extra pounds, expect the tattoo to look a little distorted.

The same goes for areas of the body that easily wrinkle or crease because they’re on or close to joints. For example, behind the knees and elbows are areas that are especially prone to creasing and movement.

Hands and Feet

If you’re thinking of having a tattoo placed on your hands or feet, you might want to think again. You use your hands and feet a lot. They move a lot, handle things from day to day. Your hands also get plunged into soapy water a lot too.

All of this movement will affect the long-term durability of the tattoo, potentially fading it and distorting it. If you really must get a tattoo on one of these areas, keep it small, simple, and bold.

Choosing the Right Location

One factor that will have a bearing on where you have your tattoo placed will be the actual design. The truth is that some designs suit much larger areas of the body, like the chest or back. For example, a multicolored Japanese Dragon tattoo is going to look far more eye catching when placed on the torso. This also gives the tattoo artist a lot more space to work with, so they can really go to town on the intricacy of the design.

Other times, the tattoo is small enough that it can go just about anywhere. Just make sure that the design can easily scale to a smaller size first. The best way to decide on this is with your tattoo artist before any ink is applied. In other words: good communication is the key to ideal tattoo placement.

The other thing to consider is that body location also has a bearing on what meaning the tattoo conveys. For example, a heart on the chest will have more meaning than one on the top of your foot.

So, where should you have your tattoo placed? Here are the most popular locations and what advantages each of them have:

Chest

These areas are fantastic locations for when you want a tattoo to convey significance but you also need it easily hidden under clothing. The chest area is also close to your heart and vital organs. Somehow, tattoos placed in this area are closer to us and feel more intimate.

The other great thing about chest tattoos is that you can use the area for more romantic or personal tattoos. For example, a symbol of love for your partner can go on the chest, right next to your heart. You can easily obscure it for discretion, but you can then show it off to your partner at home. In a sense, you’ll both have a secret when you have a tattoo like this placed on the chest or ribs.

You’ve probably even met people with chest tattoos who can easily pull down their top and show it off when needed. In this context, it’s also a good location for easily showing it off.

The other advantage is that this area can also bear quite a large tattoo. Yes, you can go small and have the romantic love heart right near your own heart, but the chest is also ideal for much larger designs too.

Sternum/Midsection

The sternum is located right in the middle of your breasts on the tough piece of bone that gives way to soft tissue. As such, this is a fantastic location for many women who prefer to have a tattoo inked in an intimate location, but also a place where it can be hidden too.

It’s not at all uncommon for young women to have floral motifs or other feminine designs inked on this bone right between their breasts. There’s something inherently playful and daring about having ink here, and it can’t be denied that there’s a certain pleasing symmetry to the central location also.

Back and Legs

It would be fair to say that the lower back tattoo, just above the buttocks, is one of the most popular. It’s in a discrete location that can easily be hidden, but it also happens to be in an intimate area of the body too. The lower back is considered an erogenous zone, especially on women, so the right kind of tattoo here can really make a statement.

It also needs to be said that the lower back tattoo is also associated with a pretty unflattering name: the Tramp Stamp. While that may not be fair, the sexual connotations of this are obvious, as is the double standards and misogyny. Some women may embrace this and empower themselves in the process, while others may fear any judgement.

In this context, just like the neck and face tattoo, the lower back tattoo can definitely draw negative attention. At the very least, it really does make a statement and can also be a real positive, depending on what the design is and how the person with the tattoo feels about it and themselves. The best way to look at it is this: if you want it and feel like it expresses you in some small way, don’t worry about what other people think.

Of course, there’s also another good reason to consider a lower back tattoo. It provides an excellent canvas for a very detailed and large tattoo. All of the nice flat space can make for a good space for any modern tattoo design. In other words: why waste all of that back space just because someone might say something negative?

As for leg tattoos, there are a few places where they can really shine. The large area of the thigh makes for a good space for large and detailed tattoos. They can easily be covered if you want, or a statement can be made if part of the tattoo is visible from underneath shorts. The upper thigh also happens to be a perfect place for inking because it’s large, taut, and lots of pressure can be applied there without the pain associated with more sensitive areas.

If you want something more subtle, the ankle is an excellent spot for a tattoo. Not only can it easily be hidden, but there’s something intimate about a small tattoo on the female ankle.

Full Body

This is where you can really show off your commitment to tattoo art. These bodysuit or full body tattoos typically cover the arms, legs, back, chest, and abdomen. In some cases, they also cover the neck and face. Rarely, some dedicated individuals have absolutely everything inked possible, including the whites of the eyes. But unless you happen to be in a show or have a deep connection to looking very different, it’s not for everyone.

If the full body tattoo is of interest, here are some things you need to know:

  • It will cost thousands of dollars to have everything inked.
  • It will take a long time to have most of the body covered in ink.
  • A full body tattoo is often a single consistent design, such as traditional Japanese tattoos.
  • It’s going to draw lots of attention from other people.

The full body tattoo is how you make the biggest statement possible. While some people have a single consistent design done by the same tattoo artist, others simply end up getting one tattoo after another over the years, and end up covering most of their body.

Head, Neck and Feet

When it comes to tattoos on the head and the neck, opinions are starkly divided. This is especially true of tattoos on the face. Not only can they be seen by everyone, but in some cases they can interfere with employment prospects. It’s also true that because tattoos on the face are harder to cover up, you’ll get judged much more often.

So, why would anyone want to get facial tattoos? The point is that any tattoo on the neck and above indicates that you’re willing to be daring and take risks. Maybe you’re the type of person who flies in the face of convention. Or maybe you’re so committed to the art of tattooing that you consider every part of your body a part of the great canvas. One thing is for sure: tattoos on the neck and face are definitely a statement of who you are.

It’s also good to bear in mind that not all head and neck tattoos have to be massive statements. In fact, it’s not unpopular to have a tattoo behind the ear. This is not always seen by others, but still indicates some commitment to self-expression. A simple and meaningful work inked behind the ear can be a reminder of a personal motto in life, for example.

If you want a tattoo on your neck, you’re going to have to endure some amount of pain during the tattooing process. The skin of the neck is not only quite sensitive, but it’s also soft and fleshy. Pressure will need to be applied to the area during the tattooing process, so it’s not going to be the most comfortable experience. Of course, the same can be said of anywhere on the face too.

Some people use the neck as an extension of any tattoos on the shoulder or chest, but one good example of a neck tattoo that is both discrete and attractive is some sort of tribal or swirling design. It’s a great way to wear a necklace when you’re not wearing one.

If you want a tattoo on your feet, extra care needs to be taken. The bottom of the feet are not a good area. It’s sensitive skin and it’s also going to wear the tattoo very quickly, and it may even fade. The top of the foot is a more popular area, but even here, the sweat and movement can really take a toll on the look and longevity of the tattoo.

Conclusion

There are definitely lots of things to think about when it comes to the placement of your tattoo. What is the design? How much space does it need? Do you want the tattoo to be discrete and easy to hide? What are you trying to express about yourself? All of these are questions to seriously consider before the process begins.

33 Chest Tattoo Examples

9 Sternum & Midsection Tattoo Examples

36 Back Tattoo Examples

25 Leg & Bottom Tattoo Examples

13 Full Body Tattoo Examples

11 Head & Feet Tattoo Examples

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