Good things come in small packages. It’s not just true for diamond rings and expensive watches; the same holds true for ink. In the hands of a talented artist, small tattoos can be as interesting and unique as any of the large designs that grace the cover of Inked Magazine, and they can be the perfect way to start your journey into the world of tattoos.
While you are most likely to find small designs on the ankle, wrists, and even behind the ear, the truth is that these little flashes of ink can be successfully applied to just about any canvas on the body. Some people even use a series of small tattoos to create a bigger composition, which works particularly well with the American traditional style flash.
Whether you like bright colors or monochromatic shading, the collection of tattoo designs we have brought together here is sure to have something for everyone and every style.
1. Small, Simple Tattoo
Without the space necessary for mind-blowing details, a restrained approach is perfect for a little bit of ink. And small, simple tattoos prove that just because a design isn’t massive and bursting with detail doesn’t mean it can’t be eye-catching and meaningful.
2. Small Cross Tattoo
There are few symbols more powerful than the cross for those who keep their faith at the center of their lives. But some people prefer their symbol of devotion to be a bit more personal, making small cross tattoos subtle yet powerful signs of the wearer’s faith.
3. Small Heart Tattoo
Don’t discount small heart tattoos just because of their miniature size. The most recognizable symbols for love don’t need to be big to get the point across, making these simple but poignant designs perfect reminders that all you need is love.
4. Small Anime Tattoo
With hundreds of storylines and thousands of characters to choose from, anime provides a wealth of material for stunning designs. Whether in the bright colors of the animated series or the black and white drawings typical of manga, small anime tattoos are a great way to devote a little flesh to your favorite series and characters.
5. Small Meaningful Tattoo
Some tattoos are fun, some are tough, and some are downright crazy, but they all mean something to the people that sit in the chair while the needle buzzes away. That being said, small meaningful tattoos can hold special significance through a bit of script or a powerful symbol.
6. Small Snake Tattoo
Snakes are powerful symbols that have been used in folklore and mythology by just about every culture on earth. Then, it makes sense that these lithe animals that represent virility, rebirth, and immortality retain their symbolic weight even as small snake tattoos.
7. Small Elephant Tattoo
Representing power, intelligence and good fortune, elephants are incredible animals that have a long history in art, storytelling and tattoos. Small elephant tattoos hold all this meaning while adding a playfulness when applying such a large animal in a small size.
8. Small Angel Wings Tattoo
Some people use angel wings to represent a lost loved one, while others use them to embody the protection of a guardian angel. Whatever the case, small angel wing tattoos prove that you don’t need a lot of space to create a meaningful and compelling design.
9. Small Skull Tattoo
Skulls have been a part of tattoo culture for just about as long as artists have been slinging ink in the US, so it’s no surprise that these macabre reminders of mortality continue to be popular. Small skull tattoos make a great addition to a sleeve or can be equally as successful when applied to the wrist or hand.
10. Small Wolf Tattoo
The fierce countenance and powerful meaning behind these apex predators make small wolf tattoos the perfect way to show it’s not about the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.
11. Small Lion Tattoo
Another of the animal kingdom’s most feared predators, the king of the jungle continues to be a popular subject for designs. Inking this big cat in a small lion tattoo shows that little designs can still pack a big punch.
12. Small Crown Tattoo
Every king needs a crown, but not every crown needs to take center stage. What better way to show the world your regal nature and preference for subtly than with a small crown tattoo?
13. Small Dragon Tattoo
Small dragon tattoos represent good luck, strength, and the power of nature and work equally in larger compositions as they do in standalone pieces.
14. Small Flower Tattoo
A little flower can go a long way. Small flower tattoos are a great way to add a little color to your collection of ink, brightening your day and setting off smiles in passers-by.
15. Small Fish Tattoo
From the colorful fins of Siamese fighting fish to the weapon-like profile of barracudas, there is a fish out there for every style and sensibility. Whether you are a devoted angler or just love all things aquatic, small fish tattoos can make for some eye-catching designs.
16. Small Dog Paw Tattoo
Serving as a powerful reminder of the love and companionship these furry critters provide, small dog paw tattoos are the perfect memorials to man’s best friend.
17. Small Hourglass Tattoo
Tattoos are permanent, but we are not. Small hourglass tattoos are the perfect way to remind yourself that every moment counts and there is no time to waste, so don’t hesitate.
18. Small Star Tattoo
Some shapes are perfectly suited for small designs, and stars are one of them. Whether five, six or seven-sided, small star tattoos make for excellent filler ink when finishing up a sleeve or can be used as tiny standalone pieces.
19. Small Angel Tattoo
Angel’s can represent love, protection or several other meanings depending on the style and background of the design. However, the symbolic weight of these celestial beings is not based on size, so small angel tattoos remain just as meaningful as larger designs.
20. Small Sun Tattoo
Sun gives us light, warmth, and life. Whether a swirling design in stark black and grey or a simple piece that uses a splash of color, small sun tattoos are a great way to show the world how you recharge your batteries.
21. Small Wave Tattoo
When it comes to raw natural power, it doesn’t get much more intense than the energy generated by the ocean. Whether you are a surfer, a sailor, or you just love sitting on the beach and watching the tide roll in, small wave tattoos are a great way to commemorate Mother Nature’s power.
22. Small Anchor Tattoo
Representing perseverance, stability, and strength, many people dedicate small anchor tattoos to something or someone in their life that embodies these characteristics.
23. Small Flame Tattoo
Just because a flame is small doesn’t mean it doesn’t burn hot. Representing passion, destruction or a bit of both, the meaning behind small flame tattoos depend entirely on the style and wearer’s intention, making them particularly versatile designs.
24. Small Moon Tattoo
Responsible for the tides and werewolves and being the most powerful symbol for the divine feminine, people have been fascinated with lunar movements for millennia. Small moon tattoos are an obvious choice for anyone who wants to devote a bit of skin to this mysterious astral body.
25. Small Lettering Tattoo
Small lettering tattoos are a great way to create meaningful and visually appealing memorials, whether they are words to live by, a lover’s name or a dedication to family and friends.
26. Small Portrait Tattoo
Not to be attempted by apprentices or novices, small portrait tattoos can make for some truly jaw-dropping designs in the hands of a talented artist. Particularly appealing when applied in black and grey shading, these little designs can be surprisingly clean when done correctly.
27. Small Mandala Tattoo
Fully customizable with endless potential for self-expression, mandalas are spiritual symbols that perfectly translate to permanent body art. Small mandala tattoos work great as additions to a sleeve or stand-alone pieces, whether in full color or black and grey.
28. Small Wrist Tattoo
Taking advantage of a popular location for little pieces, small wrist tattoos are a great way to add a bit of ink without dedicating a large canvas to a design.
29. Small Hand Tattoo
Not the job killers that it once was — especially when it comes to more subtle designs — ink on the hands is more popular than ever. Best suited for simple designs or a bit of old-school flash, small hand tattoos make your love of ink instantly recognizable.
30. Small Finger Tattoo
Another placement that has become increasingly popular in recent years, unicorn horns, a bit of script or simple lines, makes for great small finger tattoos. But be warned, given the everyday use that fingers get, these tattoos tend to fade faster than tattoos on other parts of the body.
31. Small Neck Tattoo
Not for the faint of heart, even small neck tattoos make a big impression. While they might still keep you out of a 9-5 office job, there is something undeniably appealing about a subtle flash of ink on the neck.
32. Small Chest Tattoo
Though some folks might save this big canvas for large, complex designs, small chest tattoos can be just as appealing. Whether it’s a bit of script over the heart or a simple but meaningful design, the classic placement is a great choice for ink of any size.
33. Small Face Tattoo
When it comes to ink, the face is the last frontier, and a lot of artists won’t give you small face tattoos unless you’re practically covered everywhere else. But for those that flaunt convention, a bit of ink on the face could be the next logical step.
34. Small Arm Tattoo
High on the bicep or low on the forearm, the most classic canvases are just as suitable for small arm tattoos as full sleeves.
35. Small Hip Tattoo
A popular placement thanks to the mystery that small hip tattoos create when peeking above the waistline of a pair of jeans, the style and symbolism of these pieces are limited only by the wearer’s creativity and the artist’s skill.
36. Small Thigh Tattoo
A large canvas suitable for any number of big, bold designs, some people choose small thigh tattoos for a more subtle decoration for the upper leg.
37. Small Ankle Tattoo
One of the more popular placements for diminutive ink, there is just something about small ankle tattoos that work.
38. Small Forearm Tattoo
Perfect for a bit of script or a simple but meaningful design, small forearm tattoos are great for how they work as stand-alone pieces or in larger, more complicated designs.
39. Small Sternum Tattoo
The center of the chest is really just a bit of skin and nerves stretched over bone, making it a notoriously painful canvas. But the balanced placement gives small sternum tattoos an added appeal that other designs lack. Make sure to apply tattoo numbing cream before getting started with your tattoo session.
40. Small Foot Tattoo
Perfect for subtle designs, many people use small foot tattoos to represent something in their life that keeps them grounded and down to earth.
Small Tattoo FAQ:
How long do small tattoos take?
Depending on the level of detail and the number of colors used, small tattoos usually take between one and three hours.
How long do small tattoos take to heal?
Unlike big designs that cover a lot of flesh, small tattoos tend to heal faster, with the outer layers of skin healing in 2-3 weeks, although the deeper layers may take up to six months to heal fully.
Where should you get a small tattoo?
Perfect for the wrist, ankle, or fingers, more people are getting small tattoos on their necks and faces these days, but make sure you give it a good thought before getting any face tats.
How to take care of small tattoos
Like any other ink, gently wash your small tattoo twice a day with antimicrobial soap, pat dry, apply a layer of vaseline or antibacterial ointment and leave uncovered.