Where Should You Place Your Tattoo?

Modern Apartment and Young Woman
RyanJLane / Vetta / Getty Images

Whether you're deciding on your first or your fifth tattoo, you might still be pondering its placement. You have many things to consider before getting a tattoo, and a clear understanding of where your design will look best will make that decision all the easier. Certain places on the body are also more painful to tattoo, which may be a concern for you. Take a look at the following suggestions for making that permanent mark a positive.

Why Placement Matters

The right spot can make your tattoo look its absolute best while also enhancing your physique in the most attractive way. For example, a tattoo with curvature and movement such as a large koi fish might look most suitable on a large prominent area of your body, such as the legs, arm, or thighs, whereas a smaller tattoo will be lost on such a large area. The scale of your design should be the first consideration when placing your tattoo.

Visibility

Next, consider the visibility of your tattoo. Since it's permanent, you really need to think this through. If you want a design you can hide, perhaps the hips, lower back, upper thighs, or the back of the neck (if you have long-ish hair) would be a good option.

If visibility is of no concern and you really want to show your body art off, choose the arms, wrists, upper chest, or even your hands or face. Before you commit to a highly visible tattoo, however, consider how it might affect your employment prospects; visible tattoos are still frowned upon in many workplaces.

Lastly, how visible do you want your tattoo to be to yourself? You won't see that beautiful design on your back very often unless you turn around and glance in the mirror. Ask yourself if you're getting this tattoo for your own enjoyment, or to express yourself to others. If you want to see your tattoo and enjoy it daily, place it where you can do just that.

Ease of the Process

Consider how your tattoo's placement might affect your tattoo artist's ability to render it faithfully. If you choose a spot that requires elaborate contortions for him to reach, that can affect the tattoo's quality. It might very well affect your comfort, as well, especially if it's an elaborate tattoo that will take some time to complete.

Upside Down or Right Side Up?

Many tattooists strongly believe that the correct tattoo placement accommodates not you, but those around you who will see the tattoo. If you want to place a design so that its orientation is correct from your vantage point but not from that of others, you might find yourself in a heated debate with your artist. Ultimately, the decision is yours alone. If you are certain you want the tattoo placed visibly in your favor, you might need to find a tattoo artist who respects your request regardless of the societal norm. You'll also have to deal with people turning their heads sideways whenever they want to catch a glimpse of your design. Nonetheless, remember: It's your body, whether you want your tattoo upside down, sideways, backwards, or right side up, 

Size

Does size really matter? When it comes to the fine details, yes, it does.

If you are opting for an elaborate piece, your tattoo will need to be large enough to accommodate the fine lines and details that it demands.

Lettering tattoos are a good example of detail that needs a bit of room. A script or verse tattoo, however small in idea, will need to be adjusted so that it is legible once it is tattooed. For a small design, fewer details yields a better result. Your artist will help you determine the best size of your tattoo without sacrificing your overall vision for the piece.

Small tattoos offer the most flexibility in placement. A little one can go in a little place, for a surprise effect. Unexpected tattoo sites to consider include the outside rim or tragus of your ear, behind your ankle, inside your lip, on your tongue, around a finger, or on the nape of your neck.

Think It Through

Part of the fun in getting tattoos is the process of selecting a tattoo and determining all other aspects of your piece, such as color and placement. Work with your artist from start to finish, and be open to her advice. Not only will you ensure you are happy, but you'll also have a well-thought-out tattoo that you can wear with pride. That's far better than living with regrets that arise from an impulsive body-art decision.