How do I choose my tattoo placement?

Tattoo FAQ

/By

Kieran

There are no clear rules for deciding on tattoo placement. Where you place your tattoo will be determined by the tattoos size and your own stylistic preferences.

Larger tattoos can be reduced in size to fit smaller bodily surfaces. And smaller tattoos can be enlarged to cover large bodily surfaces. Yet changing a tattoos size can only be done within reason.

The amount of detail within a tattoo design will limit how much larger or smaller the design can be made. And you’re better off deciding on the area of the body where you would like a tattoo based on your own personal style and then having a tattoo custom designed for that placement.

If you decide placement before having a tattoo custom designed for that placement, you will likely be happier with the end result. Picking a tattoo from flash or off the internet and then trying to have it made to fit a placement, often leads to disappointment.

With that said, here’s some spots you may like to consider when deciding on placement for your first tattoo. 

negative space black sleeve placed with tattoo numbing cream

Where to put first tattoo ?

Newcomers to body art and tattooing will often start with their arms, legs and shoulders.

The outer surfaces of the arms and legs, avoiding the knees and elbows, are some of the least painful places to get a tattoo. Yet pain shouldn’t be a factor when deciding on where to put your new tattoo.

Pain is temporary and the tattoo is permanent. With the aid of a good tattoo numbing cream you can remove pain from the equation. So don’t let the potential pain level of a particular placement influence your placement decisions.

If you do choose the arms, legs or shoulders as a first tattoo placement, be mindful of the size and surface area of the particular location where you’re placing the tattoo.

Small tattoos in large areas like the upper shoulders can look out of place and can be a problem if you decide you want more (or larger) tattoos. A small tattoo on the forearm for instance will need to be covered or included if you later decide you would like to go for a full sleeve tattoo.

Beginning with larger works can be a good first choice provided you have thoroughly considered the design and overall aesthetic you’re going for. Picking a large tattoo from flash or off the internet is a bad idea.

A tattoo chosen from flash will likely be a larger problem than a small flash tattoo down the track. Most people who pick tattoos from flash end up regretting their decision. And a large tattoo picked from flash and placed in a prominent position on the body, will likely lead to a large amount of regret.

When deciding on first time tattoo placement, pick the location where you would be most comfortable wearing a tattoo for years to come. Based on your style and identity. And then have a good tattooist custom design a tattoo for that placement based on your stylistic preferences. 

First tattoo placement ideas ?

Personally, I’d start on the torso with the ribs and hips. And I would start with a medium to large tattoo.

A side-piece or panel on the ribs can be easily blended into larger tattoo works. And starting your tattoo journey on the ribs or hips, leaves the arms and legs free for larger tattoos if you decide you would like sleeves.

I would also suggest steering clear of the shoulders. The back is a large surface and small to midsize tattoos can look out of place if you decide to continue on with your tattoo journey. The back is best suited to larger tattoo placements.

Overall, I’d always say the ribs are the best first tattoo location. And I’d say the worst first tattoo locations are the face, neck and hands.

The face, neck and hands are highly visible placements. And they will alter your lifestyle and future relationships. They will change the way people view you and can narrow your employment options.

If you’re worried about the level of pain or discomfort you may feel when getting tattooed, particularly on the ribs or elsewhere, use a tattoo numbing product. You can find our review of the tattoo numbing product we use and recommend here.

A good tattoo numbing product will make any tattoo placement pain free. And they open more options for potential first tattoo placements. Without considering a numbing product, uninformed first timers most often select what they consider to be the easy spots simply because they are viewed as less painful.