When considering where to get a tattoo, there are a few variables to to keep in mind. For starters, think about the amount of space you have to work with when considering a design. If you're looking to get something intricate or large, shoulders are the perfect placement option. Because shoulders offer such a large, blank canvas—considering both the shoulder bone itself and the shoulder blade—design possibilities are endless. Go for a larger tattoo on the shoulder and make a statement, or you could choose a smaller design and contrast a minimal tattoo with the negative space. Shoulder tattoos are also as visible as you make them. When you wear sleeveless shirts, you can expect to see your ink, but it’s possible to place them to be covered up as much as you’d like—by a t-shirt, long-sleeves, or not at all. Plus, depending on where your ink is placed, you’ll be able to see it, which means you’ll get to admire the artwork just as much as other people. Feeling inspired? Same. So ahead, find 50 shoulder tattoo examples to start your search for your next tattoo.
Word Shoulder Tattoo
A small word or phrase tattoo on the shoulder blade will feel dainty against the large amount of negative space. Go for a rounded cursive font for a touch of whimsy.
Outline-Only Shoulder Tattoo
The outline-only paper crane sits beautifully on the front of the shoulder bone because it uses negative space to its advantage. The simplicity keeps it feeling dainty despite its size.
Optical Illusion Design
Use the negative space of the shoulder to your ink’s advantage; try sticking to just line art to emphasize the difference. Try an optical illusion design like this one for added drama.
Extending Flowers Shoulder Tattoo
Florals are ideal designs to extend either down the arm or up to the collarbone, as flowers naturally grow in one direction. Sticking to black ink only allows you to focus on the design itself and the details rather than the color.
Tiny Floral Shoulder Tattoo
Go for a very small design, like a floral, to amazingly contrast with the large amount of negative space. Opt for a thin outline for a delicate feeling tattoo design.
Circular Shoulder Tattoo
The round shape of the shoulder socket makes the perfect placement spot for circular designs like flowers. If you’re going to have a lot of shading, stick to thin lines to keep from overwhelming the design.
Sun Shoulder Tattoo
Looking to place a sun tattoo? Try the shoulder! The center circle mimics the shoulder socket, and the rays have the same natural sense of movement.
Abstract Shoulder Tattoo
When placed on the shoulder, abstract designs really pop because they’re able to extend and be formed in any direction. Try mixing different styles, like dotwork and shading, to add textural interest to the ink.
Repetitive Shoulder Tattoo
Use repeating images, like this collection of hands, to really make a statement with your design. Opt for simple, overlapping pieces to give the tattoo a hand-drawn feel.
Large Floral Tattoo
Go for a larger-scale floral piece if you want to make use of all the shoulder space. Go for softer pastels and no black ink for a lighter feeling tattoo.
Floral Arrangement Shoulder Tattoo
The shoulder is the perfect placement for a large floral arrangement because it gives the design a lot of space to breathe and you don’t lose any detail. You can also use more shading, like in this ink.
Innovative Shoulder Tatttoo
Abstract designs are given the freedom of space to really make a statement. Since they can add innate movement or balance, there are a million design options.
Watercolor Shoulder Tattoo
Because of the size of the shoulder, there’s plenty of room to play around with tattoo styles without risking detail. Here, the watercolor effect makes this abstract bird design pop.
Dotwork Shoulder Tattoo
Because you’re not confined by space, a dotwork design will really make a statement when placed on the shoulder. The delicate needlework gives the tattoo space to breathe without crowding.