Shoulder Tattoos are Back in a Big Way—Here's Proof

woman with salvador dali shoulder tattoo

@vestige.tattoo

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.

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Kite Shoulder Tattoo

The innate movement of the kite lends itself well to the shoulder blade because it’s constantly moving. The elongated line elegantly carries the design down the arm and draws attention.

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Rose Shoulder Tattoo

Turn your arm into a garden, starting with a blooming rose on your shoulder.

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Mirrored Shoulder Tattoo

Try getting duplicate designs on both of your shoulders to create a sense of balance with your ink. The thick outlines contrast beautifully with the thin inner lines to create balanced detail as well.

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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.

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Leafy Rose Stem

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Falling Petal Shoulder Tattoo

Punch a floral design up a bit but utilizing the shape of the shoulder to add falling petals to the tattoo. When using color, go for light hues and thin lines to keep it dainty.

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Line Art Shoulder Tattoo

If you’re interested in a floral design but don’t want the typical bouquet, try designing something done in one specific style, like this line art ink. Due to the nature of the style, you can opt for a larger design like this one or a smaller one.

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Girls Girls Girls

Line design tattoos are certainly the look du jour, and shoulders are no exception.

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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.

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Shoulder Blade Tattoo

If the round part of the shoulder doesn’t seem like the right placement, try placing your ink on your shoulder blade. This is a flatter, more defined space that will allow you to get your tattoo without having to consider how it will move with your body.

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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.

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Single Flower Shoulder Tattoo

Rather than a typical bouquet or single-stem flower, try really making an impact with a single flower tattoo. Because you’re afforded more space within the design, your artist can really focus on the linework.

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Dandelion Seeds

Accentuate the delicate area between your shoulder and collarbone with a dandelion tattoo, with seeds that transition to birds.

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Leaf Shoulder Tattoo

If flowers aren’t your thinking but you still want a flora design, try opting for something like a leaf instead. There’s still an innate sense of movement, and you can be less flowery (literally!) with your design.

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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.

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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.

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Curving Outward Shoulder Tattoo

Rather than mimicking the shape of your shoulder bone to give your design movement, trying going against the natural form. Because this floral curves inward, it contrasts with the shoulder itself and makes an even more drastic impact.

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Wave Shoulder Tattoo

Mirror the movement of your shoulder by getting a design with some natural movement already, like this wave. Use darker — but not black — outlines to give the image depth while staying whimsical.

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Colored Hibiscus

Add an element of color with this pink shaded hibiscus tattoo.

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Combined Shoulder Tattoo

Rather than choosing between two designs you love, why not combine them? The large size of the shoulder makes for tons of room to create the tattoo of your desires without overwhelming your skin.

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Salvador Dali Shoulder Tattoo

The unique angle of the shoulder bone poses some pretty unique design opportunities. Try picking something with a similar structure, like this Salvador Dali melting clock ink.

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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.

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Floral Outline

No need to shade in flowers to get a detailed effect.

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Around The Socket Shoulder Tattoo

Use the unique shape of the shoulder to your advantage in your design! Here, the floral wreath is placed around the socket to mimic the round shape.

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Circle Shoulder Tattoo

If you want to copy the rounded shape of the shoulder but don’t want to get inked right on the bone, try placing a small, circular design on the front of your shoulder. It gives the design movement without feeling like the design was too obviously drawn from the body itself.

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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.

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Blueberries

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Top Of Your Shoulder Tattoo

A simple word or phrase tattoo looks great anywhere on your shoulder because of how it moves along with your body. Placing it along the top of your bone elongates your next and shoulder itself, making any design you tattoo there immediately elegant.

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Butterfly Shoulder Tattoo

These two butterflies almost seem to be flying right off of the skin. To get this effect, pick an animal in motion to get tatted, like these flying butterflies or a running horse.

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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.

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Spread Out Shoulder Tattoo

Try spreading out your design across your entire shoulder, rather than limiting it to one spot. The thin outlines mean you can keep adding to the tat without it becoming too much in one design.

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Simple Socket Shoulder Tattoo

Really emphasize the shape of your shoulder with a circular design around the socket. Here, the simplicity and thick blackwork draw attention to the body without losing the design.

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Skull Line Tattoo

This line design style tattoo sits right on top of the shoulder blade.

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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.

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Bending Floral Tattoo

A small floral that rounds around the shape of the shoulder without overtaking it maintains its movement but keeps it dainty. The crisp needlework makes it pop, regardless of the amount of elements in the design.

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Scattered Shoulder Tattoo

Rather than one element in your design, trying scattering a few over the shoulder. The color makes this spread out tattoo even more whimsical.

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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.

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Spaced Out Shoulder Tattoo

Give your tattoo some space by using a small number of design elements but spreading them  out across the shoulder.You can even use the extra space to your advantage to add more ink later on.

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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.

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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.

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Around The Socket Shoulder Tattoo

While a ring design around the shoulder socket emphasizes the area, keep the actual tattoo itself relatively simple. If you crowd the bone with too much detail, it may look somewhat sloppy.

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Lunar Phases Shoulder Tattoo

Lunar phases are a great idea for getting inked along the top of the shoulder bone. The natural elemental images pair beautifully with your natural body part!

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Upright Shoulder Tattoo

While it’s great to mimic the shape of the top of the shoulder bone, try getting a straight up-and-down design to evoke the line of the side of your shoulder.

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Solar System Shoulder Tattoo

The area of the shoulder is the perfect location to map out a solar system design. This one uses simple outlines and smaller shapes to make it feel whimsical rather than realistic.

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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.

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Single Flower Shoulder Tattoo

A single flower on the front of your shoulderbone will catch eyes. It’s close enough to the socket that the tulip bulb will pop, but it’s still able to stand alone.

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Sparkling Shoulder Tattoo

A few small sparkles moving upwards on your shoulder bone will add a small, easily hidden detail that will make a big impact. The upward movement makes it feel like your shoulder is actually shining!

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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.

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Feather Shoulder Tattoo

A feather is weightless as is, but when allowed the space to add ample details, it can feel as if it’s floating above the skin. The shading gives it a realistic design as well.

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Curved Shoulder Tattoo

Your collar bone is in the perfect position to complement the shoulder bone because of their perpendicular angles. Try mimicking the shape of the collar bone to emphasize that and elongate the chest and neck area.

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