75 Best Tattoo Placement Ideas for Inspiration

Photo Disclaimer – Images used in this article are owned by the respective individuals, artists, or other parties who post on their private social media accounts. These images only serve for inspiration and cannot be copied (images or the designs) for personal use.

Deciding on a tattoo is only half the task – placement matters too! But should you go for that spot inside your hip or be brave with an ankle tatt? Deciding the placement of your tattoo is not something to decide on a whim.

In our ultimate guide to tattoo placement, you’ll find a check list to help you decide on a tattoo placement, plus 25 cool tattoo placement ideas for inspiration! Some tattoo placements have hidden meanings too.

We bet you haven’t even considered half of the tattoo placements on our list…

How to Pick Your Tattoo Placement: 5 Things To Know

How to Pick Your Tattoo Placement
Image Credit: Saved Tattoo

Whether you have a specific placement in mind or you’re at a complete loss, make sure you carefully think about all these considerations before getting your tattoo.

1. Where the design looks best

This should be the first thing you consider. Placement can be the difference between a great tattoo and an odd-looking mistake. A good way to check the placement of very simple tattoos and tattoo outlines, is to draw it directly on your skin (try liquid eyeliner or use henna) to see how it looks.

Another option is to use a smartphone app. INKHUNTER is an app that uses augmented reality to project a tattoo onto any area of your body, so you can see what it will look like.

In general, small tattoos look best on smaller areas of your body, or along a line. For example, a tiny star would look cute on the inside of your wrist, behind your ear, or even along your collarbones. But on your back? It will look like it’s floating in space or just be mistaken for a freckle.

Large and detailed tattoos need a larger space. Trying to cram a detailed portrait into the size of a postage stamp is not a good idea. You’ll lose the quality of the artwork.

Once you’ve created a shortlist of placements you like, run them past your tattoo artist. They’ll know when a tattoo design will look out of place in one area, or if it’s even possible to place your tattoo there.

2. Your Pain Tolerance

If this is your first tattoo, pain tolerance is likely your biggest concern and it’s totally okay to let this color your decision.

Getting a huge (but bad) design all over your back just to prove that you’re not afraid of pain will really backfire.

Instead, we recommend starting small if you know you have little tolerance for pain and choose placements that are known to be a little easier than others. Outer thighs, your inner hip, and any other area where there’s plenty of flesh between your skin and bones will help minimize the pain.

But don’t forget, you can’t avoid the pain completely!

3. Showing off your tattoo

Showing off your tattoo
Image Credit: Saved Tattoo

Do you want your tattoo on display for everyone to see? There’s no right or wrong answer. Sometimes tattoos can have very personal, deep meanings – so if you don’t want to share that with strangers on the street, choosing a more private placement is advantageous.

Some private tattoo placements include your inner thigh, sole of your foot, breasts, and even your scalp where you can grow hair back over the tattoo. Anywhere that’s usually covered by clothing is a good private place.

4. Seeing your tattoo yourself

A full back tattoo might make your detailed artwork look fabulous, but you won’t get to see it all that much!

Think about why you want your tattoo. Is it all about the meaning, so it doesn’t matter if you can’t see it 24/7? Or do you want a tattoo so you can decorate your body and admire some stunning artwork?

Areas of your body that are visible to yourself can be private or public places. There are also some compromise areas. Your wrist, for example, might seem like a very public place to put a tattoo… but it’s also one of the easiest tattoos to cover up with a watch or jewelry. You wouldn’t even need to wear long sleeves all the time.

5. 3 Dos and 3 Don’ts

First of all, do talk to your tattoo artist for their opinion. They will know best and may even have some placement ideas you haven’t considered yet. But don’t feel pressured into a particular placement by the artist or anyone else. After all, it’s you that has to live with it!

Do take as long as you need to decide on your tattoo and placement. The best tattoos are rarely rushed. From finalizing the design with a tattoo artist to getting the placement just right, to booking in the sessions. It takes time. Don’t rush into a professional tattoo parlor and expect to instantly be tattooed.

Finally, do research your options before you start. And we don’t just mean getting a tattoo. Think about what happens if you don’t like it – have you researched tattoo removal methods? Have you thought about if your future employment complicates things further? Read our article about laser tattoo removal for an idea of what’s in store. But don’t chicken out because of the pain and permanence of a tattoo. It’s an exciting and wonderful thing to do. We just don’t want you to have any regrets!

Editor Note: 

We strongly advise that before you even get your first tattoo, you try a temporary tattoo first. There are companies now that create temporary tattoos that look exactly like the real thing.

Below is what we recommend most. It contains heart, cat, smile, sun, moon, ghost, and other small patterns inside. It works perfectly (personally tested) at an unbelievably cheap price, don’t miss it!

Jotapas Realistic Temporary Fake Tattoo Stickers 2
Know More Details on Amazon

25 Cool, Unique, and Popular Tattoo Placements

For each of these cool tattoo placement ideas, find out how much it will hurt and what potential meanings that placement could mean!

Ankle

  • Best for: small or trailing designs
  • Pain levels: very high
  • Potential meaning: walking a journey/path, guidance, or shackles

We’re kicking things off with ankle tattoos! First things first, can be a very painful area to get tattooed, especially if you’re tattooing directly on the bones rather than in those slightly fleshier gaps around the joint and bone. This is why most ankle tattoos, like our examples, are above or below that large bone.

Small tattoos by your ankle can represent travelling or being guided on a journey (a guiding star) or being shackled or anchored with something or someone. This could be a loved one’s initial or meaningful symbol.

Tattoos in this area can swirl up by your calf or down around your foot. Trailing tattoos look particularly great here.

Ankle Tattoo women
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Wrist

  • Best for: small symbols and bands
  • Pain levels: high
  • Potential meaning: show off your beauty

The wrist area is a very popular spot for tattoos, particularly for women with delicate wrists. Of course, the more delicate and boney your wrists are, the more it will hurt! Great tattoos here include symbols on the inside of your wrist, or long tattoos that circle (or half circle) your wrist like a bracelet.

A single flower, a meaningful symbol (angel wings, cat outline, star, etc.) or mandala style design looks lovely here. The area is very visible, so the aim is to create something other people will “ooh” and “aaah” at.

Just bear in mind that the wrist is regularly exposed to sunlight, so it will fade much faster.

Wrist Tattoo women
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Hip

  • Best for: medium symbols and large designs
  • Pain levels: low
  • Potential meaning: expressing your femininity

Hips are another tattoo placement area that’s very popular with women. They’re also very versatile. You could get a tiny ladybug tattoo on that fleshy spot between your hip bone and stomach, for example. Or if you wanted a large tattoo, you could get a flowing floral design that swirls from your lower ribs down over your hip and to your upper thigh.

As the area around here is very fleshy (apart from the hip bone itself) it’s one of the least painful places and a good option for large tattoos if you have low pain tolerance.

Hip Tattoo women
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Forearm

  • Best for: long designs with medium detail
  • Pain levels: moderate
  • Potential meaning: guidance

A tattoo on your forearm could mean guidance – something that leads you down the path of destiny. Most of the time, however, a forearm tattoo or full-blown sleeve is just a great place to decorate your body with meaningful/beautiful designs where others can see it. And it can be covered with long shirt sleeves, if needed.

The pain in this area is moderate – the inside of your forearm can be quite sensitive but it’s not overly boney. Long, thin tattoos and even portraits fit nicely in this area.

Forearm Tattoo
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Upper Arm

  • Best for: large and medium designs
  • Pain levels: low to medium
  • Potential meaning: strength!

Tattoos on the inside or outside of your upper arm can be a brilliant way to show off your muscles, right? Well, not always. This great area of your body creates a nice, smooth and low-pain canvas for any design.

Bicep tattoos aren’t all about thick tribal bands, either. Quite a few designs are feminine, with foliage and flowers twisting around the arm. The inside of the upper arm is also an easy place to hide. We see quite a few landscape oriented tatts here too.

Upper Arm Tattoo
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Upper Arm Tattoo Sunflower
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Back Shoulder

  • Best for: large and detailed tattoos
  • Pain levels: moderate
  • Potential meaning: remembrance

By the back shoulder, we mostly mean that back shoulder blade right at the top of your back – although many back shoulder designs can overflow the top of your shoulder and onto your clavicle too.

This is a popular spot with both men and women to show off a symbol or large design. Angel wings are popular along shoulders too.

As this is the very top corner of your back, small tattoos don’t look too lost… but we can’t deny preferring large, detailed tattoos in this spot.

Back Shoulder Tattoo Women
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Back Shoulder Tattoo Women Flower
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Fingers

  • Best for: small, simple designs
  • Pain levels: moderate to high
  • Potential meaning: initials, symbols to live by

A tattoo on your finger could be a simple little flower that cheers you up and flatters your delicate digits. Or it could have a more potent meaning – the initials of your first born, or a symbol that represents something you live by or believe in, e.g., peace, freedom, hope…

The smaller and simpler the better. If you tattoo between the joints, on the fleshy sides of your fingers, the pain will be moderate. In general, however, finger tattoos are quite painful.

If you need more help deciding if a finger tattoo is right for you, read our short finger tattoo guide. Learning about blowout and finger tatt risks before you get inked is essential.

Finger Tattoo
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Toes

  • Best for: very small designs and symbols
  • Pain levels: high
  • Potential meaning: guidance, decoration

Like a sweet toe ring, a toe tattoo can be a cute place to decorate your body with tiny, delicate designs. Like fingers, it can also be a symbolic place to tattoo something you live by (or think about with every step).

Either way, it’s going to hurt! Toes are small boney areas. So, while that tiny star tattoo will be finished quickly… it’s going to hurt like hell.

One way to get around this is to tattoo the pad of your toe (the underside) but that makes recovery/healing the tattoo a bit tricky!

Toes Tattoo
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Toes Tattoo 3
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Collarbone

  • Best for: small floral and trailing tattoos
  • Pain levels: low to medium
  • Potential meaning: decorative

Collarbone tattoos, or clavicle tattoos, decorate the delicate bones that stretch from your neck to your shoulder. This tattoo placement is almost exclusively popular with women, as female collarbones tend to show more prominently.

Floral tattoos are great in this placement. A trail or vine of flowers that curls along your collarbone is very attractive and highlights the feminine figure. Small and medium-small tattoos look best here, but a large tattoo covering your entire collarbone from shoulder to shoulder is possible. How much the tattoo will hurt depends on how fleshy you are in this area, and if your tattoo design sits underneath/above the bone or directly on it.

Collarbone Tattoo
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Neck

  • Best for: medium-sized tattoos
  • Pain levels: medium
  • Potential meaning: tag or collar

We’ve separated ‘back of neck’ tattoos from general neck tattoos, so if you want something that sits at the top of your spine and just under your hairline, scroll down to that section!

In general, other neck tattoos fall into two categories. Symbols and medium-sized designs that fit on the side of your neck (roughly below your ear) and circling neck tattoos that go all the way around. Necklace tattoos can be quite feminine too.

But regardless of gender, you need to feel confident in your neck before you get a tattoo here. The skin around your neck wrinkles and sags greatly with age, so think about that before you get inked.

Neck Tattoo Man
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Neck Tattoo Women Snake
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Ribcage

  • Best for: large designs
  • Pain levels: high
  • Potential meaning: any large motif meaning

Rib tattoos can cover a very wide area. From under the armpit down to the stomach, or directly on the front of your torso. The designs vary widely too, from a few words scrawled underneath one breast to a large motif that covers you from one side to the other.

Regardless of the size of the tattoo, getting a tattoo over your ribs is quite painful as the ribs are delicate and boney. If you are slender and there’s not much flesh between your skin and ribs, it will hurt even more.

As there is such a large space to play with here, the designs for ribcage tattoos are very diverse.

Ribcage Tattoo
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Ribcage Tatoo Men
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Upper Back

  • Best for: medium and large tattoos
  • Pain levels: medium
  • Potential meaning: carrying a burden or memories

Sometimes, a back tattoo is just placed there because it’s a great spot that’s easy to cover up. Other times, this placement indicates that you’re carrying something. A memory, a burden, guilt, grief, etc. You’re carrying it on your back wherever you go.

Upper back tattoos are often medium sized (large ones cover all areas of your back at once) and are generally placed between the shoulder blades. Check out shoulder tattoos on our list for more ideas for tattoos in this area.

Upper Back Tatoo Women
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Back of Neck

  • Best for: small designs
  • Pain levels: medium
  • Potential meaning: anything you like!

The back of your neck, just under your hair line, is a cute place to get a tattoo. Hide it with long hair and high-collared shirts, then show it off when you want to. Many people prefer a small tattoo in this area. A simple line drawing or symbol looks really nice here.

Of course, you can always combine your back of neck tattoo with a full back or shoulder tattoo to enhance and enlarge it.

Tattoos in this placement tend to be moderately painful. It’s not the worst choice for your first tattoo placement, however!

Back of Neck Tatoo
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Back of Neck Tatoo Women 2
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Thigh

  • Best for: large tattoos
  • Pain levels: low
  • Potential meaning: unique, hidden meanings

Depending on the exact placement, a thigh tattoo can be incredibly sexual, alluring and mysterious! This is a great tattoo placement if you want a large tattoo design that’s easy to hide and in a mildly intimate place.

The thick layers of flesh on your thighs (particularly if you are a woman) keep the tattoo needle away from your bones, so the pain will be at the lowest level for thigh tattoos.

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Thigh Tattoo Women
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Calve

  • Best for: large, medium and flowing designs
  • Pain levels: medium to very high
  • Potential meaning: strength and connection to the earth

What carries you and keeps you strong? You calves (lower legs) are a good tattoo placement to symbolize what helps you put one foot in front of the other.

But calve tattoos don’t need to have any particular meaning. If you live in a sunny climate where your legs are exposed a lot, then a calve tattoo can just be aesthetical and for decoration. Small tattoos tend to look a bit out of place on your lower legs (consider ankles instead) so large and medium tattoos that cover your entire calf or a good portion of it are more popular.

The pain of getting inked in this area is quite high, so watch out.

Calve Tattoo
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Breast

  • Best for: small tattoos
  • Pain levels: high
  • Potential meaning: what you love and believe

Tattoos on or around breasts often symbolize love, as this placement puts the tattoo very close to your heart. A tattoo over your chest can also be very meaningful if you’ve had a mastectomy. It’s a private tattoo placement that’s easy to hide and will only be revealed to those closest to you.

Even though breasts are boneless and fleshy areas of your body, the skin here is also very sensitive – especially close to your nipples. That’s why the pain level is so high!

Roses are popular old-school tattoos to get on your breasts, and floral designs in general are quite popular.

Breast Tattoo 1
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Breast Tattoo 3
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Ass!

  • Best for: small to large designs
  • Pain levels: medium
  • Potential meaning: something sexy to hide

Tattoos on your buttocks – or in the general ass area – are not something to get embarrassed about. They can be super sexy, of course, but also quite cute! As this area of your body is usually hidden away from the public view, it’s a good placement for secretive and private tattoos.

The majority of ass tattoos are on women. Large floral patterns across the buttocks/thighs/hips are, of course, very popular designs. Names and smaller tattoos look good here too. Medium/small tattoos don’t look so lost in this area compared to your back, for example.

As for the pain, it’s not the most painful area for a tattoo… but the flesh here is quite sensitive so it won’t be painless by any means!

Ass Tattoo Women 1
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Ass Tattoo Women 3
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Head

  • Best for: large and eye-catching designs
  • Pain levels: extremely high
  • Potential meaning: something important to remember, intelligence, wisdom

Getting tattoos on your scalp is immensely painful. But if you’re not afraid of the pain (or weirdly enjoy it) then a head tattoo could be for you. This placement is unique and interesting – and will definitely be very visible publicly.

This is a good tattoo placement if you want to show off!

Bear in mind that even if your hair grows back, you may still be able to see the design under your hair, especially if your hair is thin.

Great designs for your head include simple designs and artwork on one side, and mandala style circular tattoos that curl around your ear or cover your head entirely.

Head Tattoo Men 1
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Lower Back

  • Best for: large and wide designs
  • Pain levels: medium
  • Potential meaning: mainly decorative

Not all lower back tattoos have to be tramp stamps. And despite that stereotype of what lower back tattoos look like, they’re still extremely popular. These tattoos tend to be more for beauty than to have a particular meaning though.

Many lower back tattoos also spill out across the hips, ass and middle/high back area. It’s a great space for large tattoos! You can also fit in wider tattoos, like long words and phrases that stretch from one side of your back to the other.

Your lower back will hurt less to tattoo compared to the boney areas higher up (shoulders, spine, etc.) but will still be moderately painful.

Lower Back Tattoo
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Behind Ear

  • Best for: very small, simple designs
  • Pain levels: high
  • Potential meaning: something to remember/live by or hide

A small tattoo behind one ear can be very pretty and also very symbolic. It’s a good place to get that tiny heart or star tattoo that you’ve been dreaming of. It’s public enough that you can easily show it without taking off any clothes, but it’s also small enough to be covered with makeup and/or your hair if you don’t want it on display.

Yes, it will hurt quite a bit! But with very small tattoos, the session will be over in no time.

If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you could even get a tattoo directly on your ear. Popular behind-ear designs include small symbols, tiny flowers, names, and even paw prints.

Behind Ear Tattoo
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Lips

  • Best for: very small words
  • Pain levels: high
  • Potential meaning: a phrase you say or something to remember to talk about

A tattoo on or just inside your lower lip is quite painful – but also very rewarding. A unique lip tattoo can symbolize something you talk about or the meaning behind your words. If you want to remember to speak softly, share kindness with your words, or extend peace (or the opposite), then a lip tattoo can commemorate it.

The small space isn’t immediately visible, but it could be noticed while you’re talking. Tattoos inside your mouth fade much quicker than anywhere else on your body, so if you want your lip tattoo to last, you will need to book sessions every few months.

Lips Tattoo
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Lips Tattoo 2
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Elbows

  • Best for: large and medium floral/mandala designs
  • Pain levels: high
  • Potential meaning: something to lean on!

Elbows are surprisingly popular tattoo placements. Whether you need to tattoo your entire arm in a sleeve or just want to decorate this area of your body, there are plenty of tattoo options available.

You can tattoo the inside crease of your elbow. This is quite cool as the tattoo will flash open and closed as you move your arm around. Tattooing the outside of your elbow is also possible but it is going to hurt. A lot. The skin here is incredibly close to the bone.

Quirky designs include spider webs over your elbow and large floral/mandala designs to circle your elbow. Any small design looks great on the inner elbow crease.

Elbows Tattoo 1
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Elbows Tattoo 3
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Groin

  • Best for: small designs
  • Pain levels: medium
  • Potential meaning: sex-related, private designs

The groin, that fold where the thigh meets the abdomen, is a good private tattoo placement option. It’s usually hidden by your underpants/panties so if you want a tattoo design that’s too private to share with just anyone, this is a good spot.

Small designs are best here, as the area is quite small. Keep it simple! The pain depends on how fleshy you are, but in general the thigh/hip area is quite low on the pain scale.

If you want the tattoo closer to your genitals, then be prepared for more pain on this sensitive area.

Groin Tattoo 1
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Groin Tattoo 3
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Armpits

  • Best for: medium-sized designs
  • Pain levels: very high
  • Potential meaning: something to hide, shows that you smell nice!

If you’ve ever waxed your armpits, you’ll know how sensitive and delicate this area of your body is. That’s why tattooing your armpits hurts like a b***h. This is not a tattoo placement for the fainthearted.

Much like elbow tattoos, circular designs like cobwebs and mandalas fit nicely into the armpit area and add some color. Armpit tattoos can also be part of full shoulder, rib and upper arm tattoos.

Few armpit tattoos have distinctive meanings, but this placement could symbolize a natural scent or smell that you want to give off. Flower tatts in your armpits are always nice!

Armpits Tattoo 1
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Armpits Tattoo 3
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Knees

  • Best for: small symbols or large designs
  • Pain levels: medium-high
  • Potential meaning: anything you want!

Knees are bony areas of our bodies. So, it should come as no surprise that knee tattoo placements score medium-high on the pain scale.

Round designs and cobwebs fit great on your knees, if you want to cover them entirely. But with knees, you can also use smaller tattoo designs. Initials on the back of your knee, just above or below the crease look good. Or just above and to the side of the knee on your thigh.

If your knees are regularly exposed to the sunlight, the tattoo will fade faster. If that’s a concern, consider moving the tattoo further up your thighs instead.

Knees Tattoo
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Recap – How to Pick the Perfect Tattoo Placement

Picking your tattoo placement is super important. It determines how much the tattoo will hurt, the size and detail of your tattoo designs, plus how fast it will fade. Remember, areas of your skin that are regularly exposed to sunlight will fade very fast!

Hopefully by now you’ve decided on the best placement for your tattoo. Let us know in the comments where you will get inked so you can help others on their tattoo journeys.

Tattoo Placement FAQs

Tattoo Placement FAQs
Image Credit: Saved Tattoo

Still unsure which tattoo placement is right for you? Check out these top FAQs or read our many detailed guides to getting a tattoo on our blog.

Where should I get a tattoo on my body?

It’s totally up to you. You can get a tattoo anywhere you like. Choosing a placement can hold a special meaning to you, or just be the best place for the type of tattoo you want! It’s a good idea to research how painful each placement will be to help you decide.

Where is the least painful place to get a tattoo?

Anywhere there’s plenty of flesh and fat between your bone and skin will be less painful (although there’s nowhere that’s pain-free). Your hip and outer thigh are great places, as well as your buttocks – just bear in mind that tight clothes rubbing against your fresh tattoo will hurt as well, so there’s that to consider.

Know More Details: Tattoo Pain Chart: What Is The Most (Least) Painful Place

Where is the most painful place to get a tattoo?

Tattoos directly on your skull/scalp are in a pain league of their own, but generally anywhere that’s bony with only a very thin layer of skin stretched over bone will hurt a lot to get tattooed.

Does the tattoo placement mean anything?

Tattoo placement can be very meaningful… or not meaningful at all. Some designs and placements, e.g. a star tattoo on your foot or ankle, could symbolize a guiding light or following your fate through life. The meaning of your tattoo placement is totally up to you!

Do different tattoo placements cost more?

It depends on the tattoo artist. They may want to charge more if you need a private session to tattoo an intimate area, for example. Generally, the cost of the tattoo depends on the size of it, as the size and color varieties determine the number of needles and amount of ink needed.

Know More Details: How Much Do Tattoos Cost: 6 Tips For Getting The Best Price For A Tattoo

Where is the best place to get your first tattoo?

If you’re worried, or just cautious in general, then pick somewhere fleshy to minimize the pain. Your inner hip or forearm are good places. Smaller tattoos may not be less painful, but the pain will be over quickly. They’ll also be cheaper and easier to hide, making them better for your first tattoo if you’re feeling uncertain.

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