The back of the neck, also called the nape of the neck, is a popular placement choice for tattoos thanks to its location on the body. Because the nape is directly under the bottom of the hairline, it is easily hidden by longer hair or a high-collared shirt. This gives the spot a more intimate feel, as it's up to you when to show off your tat and when to hide it. The nape of the neck also has a lot of movement that some designs may play up and others may contrast with.
If you're considering a back-of-the-neck tattoo, here are 18 designs to help you choose what to get. Remember that the nape is an intimate spot, so be sure to take these ideas and build on them in your own personal way to match the vibe.
Butterfly Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
For a truly minimal back-of-neck tattoo, keep the design detailing to a minimum to avoid overwhelming the small design. The lines in this tattoo add interest but also feel delicate.
Bouquet Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
Florals look beautiful on the back of the neck, as the natural shape of the flower mimics that of the head directly above. Emphasize that shape even more by tattooing the flowers in a half circle design to mimic where the hair meets the nape of the neck.
Three Hearts Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
If your design idea is a simple shape, like a heart or circle, consider getting it inked more than once. This adds more to the ink without requiring dark or heavy detailing, but the tattoo also remains minimal in overall design.
Personal Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
The back of the neck is a great placement choice for word tattoos that either mean something to you or that you’d want to remind other people. Add a personal touch, like a crown or a specific color, to really make it your own.
Dragon Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
Dragons may not sound like they’d work on the back of the neck, but the shape of the animal adds movement to the otherwise stiff neck. Keep the design simple to avoid overwhelming the small area, and use the space to your advantage, even carrying the tattoo above or below the nape of the neck to complete the design if necessary.
Simple Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
Sometimes the simplest designs make the biggest impact! This minimal crown design uses a lot of negative space and thin outlines to make it feel delicate, but the size and extra personal detailing (like the too-long line) makes it stand out.
Thick-Lined Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
If your design is simple, but you don’t want it to feel too delicate, opt for thicker lines. By using thick outlines but keeping everything else in the design minimal, the tattoo will make a statement without being overwhelming to the space.
Celtic Knot Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
Celtic knots have a variety of meanings, but most commonly they represent an unbreakable bond—considering they have no start or end. While commonly depicted in black, adding a meaningful color helps emphasize the importance of the tattoo.
Lotus Flower Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
A small lotus flower on the back of the neck is a great way to honor its meaning and connect to it. Add something personal, like a symbol or letter, to make the tattoo your own.
Abstract Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
For fans of abstract tattoos, the back of the neck is a great placement idea, as it forces you to consider spacing when creating your design. This abstract tattoo uses different line thicknesses, shapes, and additional detailing, but because it’s spaced out well, it doesn’t feel overwhelming in the small space.
Single Rose Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
A single rose design feels almost natural when placed on the back of the neck. The round shape of the petals mimics that of the head, the straight stem elongates the neck, and the leaves contrast with the straight lines of the neck and shoulders to add movement.
Word or Phrase Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
Because back-of-the-neck tattoos can easily be hidden, it makes sense to choose a design that’s a bit bolder than normal. If you’re considering getting a word or phrase inked, opt for a heavier font or thicker letters to make it pop when seen.
Multiple Elements Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
Feel free to add multiple elements to a back-of-the-neck tattoo—don’t feel limited to one overall design just because the area is small! This tattoo has three different elements but manages to stay light and dainty thanks to the thin lines and spaced-out design.
Thin-Lined Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
For a truly delicate back-of-the-neck tattoo, keep your lines as thin as possible and don’t add any detailing. To further emphasize the daintiness, place the design as far up the nape of the neck as possible to make it feel truly intimate.
Anchor Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
Anchors have been typical tattoo imagery since it was just sailors getting inked, but they are also a modern, popular design choice. To make it pop in an often-hidden spot, opt for a fully filled-in design and use negative space for some of the detailing to add balance.
Semicolon Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
A semicolon tattoo is an extremely personal design that holds a lot of meaning. If it’s all about the symbolism to you, go for a clean, minimal design that boldly gets the design across. If it’s more about the look of the design on the back of the neck, try adding some shading or negative space detailing for visual interest.
Sword Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
A long, thin design like a sword may not sound like it would make sense on the back of the neck, but it’s the perfect shape to emphasize the natural shape of the neck. Because it’s a long design, having the blade stretch up along the back of the neck elongates the body part and makes the tattoo feel dainty, rather than clunky.
Dainty Back-of-the-Neck Tattoo
Just because a design is small doesn’t mean it has to be minimal! This small whimsical tattoo is mostly made up of simple outlines, but it also features some shading to add dimension to the ink without overwhelming it.