When it comes to tiny tattoos, a big consideration is placement. If you get your small tattoo on a large surface area – such as your thigh, back, or forearm – you have to think about any future tattoos you might want in this area, as your mini tattoo will impact what other ink you’re able to get.
Locations that stand out as great tattoo placement options for small tattoos include behind the ear, the wrist, and the ankle.
The ankle has long been a popular placement choice for small tattoos for a number of reasons.
Firstly, a tattoo here is easy to hide – all you’ve got to do is wear a long pair of pants and your conservative family or work colleagues will be none the wiser.
Secondly, when it comes to aftercare, there’s very little that will get in the way of you following instructions from your tattoo artist. With placements that you don’t easily have access to (your back, for example) aftercare can become tricky and you might need someone’s help to wash and moisturize your tat.
A tattoo on your ankle is easy to reach, and letting it breathe without tight clothing is simple to achieve – just avoid socks and try to stick to flip flops.
However, there are also some cons to this placement.
The ankle is rather boney, which can result in a more painful tattooing experience. When you get inked on an area like your forearm or thigh, there are more layers to absorb the impact of the needle. In an area with thinner skin and less fat, the needle has access to more nerves and bone. Of course, everyone has a different pain tolerance.
There are a few things you can do to help lessen the pain of the experience, though. Drinking water (hydrated skin is easier to tattoo), getting enough sleep the night before your appointment, and not drinking alcohol at least 24 hours before getting inked (as alcohol thins the blood) are good ways to make your tattoo session easier.
Foot and ankle tattoos also have a tendency to fade quicker than other tattoos. Tattoo artist, Leo Palomino, explained to Bustle that it’s a high friction area due to socks and shoes, and this rubbing up against material consistently can cause the ink to blur.
Of course, looking after your tattoo can go a long way in helping it stand up against the test of time.
Now, let’s get into some of the popular choices for ankle tattoos:
For those who want a subtle tattoo, simple dainty lines mimicking an actual jewelry anklet work well, and you can add a “charm” that has meaning to you, such as a tattoo of a mandala, heart, or star to name a few options.
“You’ll want to consider the exact placement you prefer for your wrap around ankle design. Some people prefer to have the ankle cuff tattoo drape down to the foot, or place it a bit higher up on the leg, it’s all up to you and what you feel will best suit your body and preferences.”
Another design that can work as a wrap around ankle tattoo is a snake.
Snake Ankle Tattoo
Snakes are often portrayed as a sneaky, evil character in folklore. However, they also have positive connotations associated with them – they don’t all want to try and get you to eat the forbidden fruit.
These reptiles go through a shedding process where a layer of their skin comes off as it no longer fits with the snake’s growing body and to get rid of any parasites on the skin. This can be a powerful symbolism when placed in the human context.
“Just as a snake sheds its skin, we must shed our past over and over again,” said the Buddha.
A snake tattoo can be a reminder to let go of the past and to continually seek growth and development.
When it comes to snake ankle tattoos, the design can wrap around the ankle like an anklet, or a small, simplistic design of a snake can be placed just above the ankle.
Read more about snake tattoos here.
Wing Ankle Tattoo
Hermes, the ancient Greek god of trade, wealth, luck, fertility, animal husbandry, sleep, language, thieves, and travel, also found the time to be a messenger for the gods of Mount Olympus.
With his winged sandals, he was able to traverse heaven, earth, and the underworld.
A single small wing on the ankle can be a symbol of this ancient god, and can represent the love of travel and the need to explore.
Wing tattoos can also represent divine guidance because of their association with angels, as well as freedom because with wings, you aren’t tethered to the ground.
Read more about wing tattoos here.
Anchor Ankle Tattoo
An anchor is a popular nautical symbol to get tattooed, but they’re no longer just appealing to sailors.
Seamen favored anchor tattoos as a symbol of their time spent at sea. Tatring remarks that this was an emblem of accomplishment for sailors who crossed the dangerous Atlantic Ocean.
This symbol was, however, used long before sailors. In Christendom’s infancy, the anchor was used instead of the cross as a symbol of faith to avoid persecution.
“Christians actually used the anchor to replace the cross when they were a persecuted minority. When Christians were under Roman control, they spent most of their time hidden. Christians used the anchor to resemble the cross so there would be no sign of the religion and to signal other Christians in secret,”Tatring
Now, a tattoo of an anchor can represent stability during trying times. When the waves get choppy and a ship needs to remain stable, they drop the anchor.
An anchor tattoo can pay tribute to what keeps you grounded in life, such as your family or children.
A tattoo of an anchor is a great choice if you want to go minimalistic in design – a tiny anchor as a fine outline or with solid black lines works well on the ankle. Or, you could add more elements such as flowers or the names of loved ones.
Read more about anchor tattoos here.
While the ankle is a sensitive part of your body to get tattooed, it may also be the ideal location for your chosen minimalist tattoo design. Remember, one of the best things you can do to ensure a comfortable experience and a tattoo you love is to choose an experienced tattoo artist. Don’t rush, and take your time to look through portfolios – it’s worth it.