From waves and florals to dates and animals.
You have a lot of options when it comes to deciding what to get for your next, or first, tattoo. From tiny tats to bold and colorful pieces, the sky is the limit with this art form. And if you’re looking for a simple tattoo, the designs can run the gamut, so Bustle spoke with artists to hear how they define "simple tattoo," why it doesn’t just mean small, and who it might be good for.
Alysha Howard of Ink and Dagger Tattoo says that, for her, a simple tattoo isn’t just something small — though it can be — but rather, something that requires only one machine and takes less than an hour to do. "’Simple’ for me are line work designs, lettering — like typewriter-style or anything without varying thickness — and shapes," she says.
Royal Heritage Tattoo’s Huka recommends flowers, bugs, and landscapes in addition to line work. But simple, she says, doesn’t have to mean a lack of detail: Adding dot work or pepper shading can add depth to a design.
She says simple tattoos are good options for many reasons. "Simple well-done tattoos age well," she says. "If applied correctly, your line work flower will still look like a flower [for years]."
Howard also says they make for a great first tattoo, telling Bustle they’re great to "just to get an idea of how it feels, if [getting a tattoo] is something you’ll even enjoy."
If you’re sold and ready to find your next (or first) piece, check out these 20 simple tattoos.
Floral tattoos are a popular simple option. While this tattoo is large, the clean lines and dot work make it a perfect choice for those who want more than a tiny tat but not a full-color floral design.
Wave tattoos have gotten increasingly popular. These matching designs are a perfect example of something small and simple.
Howard also calls out landscape images as popular simple tattoos. This mountain-inspired piece with its minimal line work is a great example.
For those looking for animal-based tattoo inspiration, check out this single line, Picasso-inspired bull from celebrity artist Winter Stone.
This stunning piece by Bang Bang New York artist Okan Uckun is proof that simple doesn’t always mean understated. The gorgeous line work that moves from the kite down to the wrist is dramatic but uncomplicated.
Stars are a classic tattoo option, but this long string of line work stars also makes the design feel particularly unique.
This stunning feather from celebrity tattoo artist Dr. Woo is a great example of the shading technique.
If there’s a character, television series, movie, or book you love, try a simple design that embodies it — like these Harry Potter-inspired glasses and lightning bolt.
Simple script is, of course, a classic choice — and an uplifting phrase you can peek at throughout the day can serve as a little dose of inspiration or motivation.
If you want something personal, a line work portrait of your pet — like this dog tattoo — is a good option.
Simple tattoos of bodies and body parts are common online, and many appear similar to Miley Cyrus’ Matisse-inspired ink.
From matching to minimal ink, food tattoos pop up everywhere, and that’s true of simple bits of body art as well.
This collection of lines, stars, dots, and arrows marry multiple shapes to make for a stunning tattoo. (This one happens to belong to Hailey Bieber.)
Like stars, moons are popular symbols in the tattoo world. This piece from Johnny Dagger may be simple, but it features the shading technique Huka mentioned.
This rainbow ink is proof that colorful tattoos can definitely still be simple.
Getting artwork that commemorates a notable date or year is an understated and impactful way to honor it.
Like florals, vines and spiraling botanicals are simple standout pieces.
The shading on this simple tree from Howard make it anything but minimal.
If you’re searching for simple tattoo inspiration, you’ll find that outlines of hands and hands entwined with vines pop up frequently. This set made from delicate lines is just one example.
With their dots and lines, constellations are an obvious choice for a simple tattoo.
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