Tattoos can be beautiful works of art, but the fact that they’re on your skin permanently can feel a bit daunting (especially if you’ve never gotten one before). If you’re intimidated to try out a big, bold body art design, or if you just want less of a commitment, minimalist tattoos are the perfect way to rock some discrete ink.
Celebrities like Hailey Bieber, Demi Lovato, and Chrissy Teigen are all proof that even the tiniest designs can be beautiful and impactful when they’re done right. The details in these are incredibly small, which means tattoo artists have to be particularly meticulous and careful to get these designs just right.
The key is to make sure you research where you get your ink done. “It’s important for a client to know when choosing an artist for your minimalist tattoo — you must make sure they have clean line work,” tattoo artist Gianna Caranfa tells Bustle, noting that your artist should be well-versed in thinner needle groupings.
Bustle spoke with experts for all the intel you’ll need before your appointment, including the best spots for your tiny ink. Here are 10 cute minimalist tattoo ideas to keep on hand for your next piece of body art.
Tattoo artist Raymond Jimenez finds that clients will often come in with a picture of someone as a reference for a tattoo, but an entire portrait can be overwhelming if you’re looking for a minimalist design. In this case, he recommends going with an outline tattoo.
“My clients on occasion will bring in a photo, usually a place or person that they are fond of, and [they’ll] just want me to do an outline of a focal point in the picture,” Jimenez tells Bustle. “No shading or depth, just the line work.” His take? Even if the minimalist take on the photo leaves out some facial features and shows more of a silhouette, it “feels a bit more personal.”
2. Lines And Dots
An easy minimalist design is to just get little markings. “More clients are getting little adornments of patterns made of lines and dots,” Jimenez tells Bustle. You can choose between all sorts of symbols, shapes, or line arrangements to add significance, he says.
He notes that these designs work well on small spaces like the fingers, behind the ear, or on the wrist. He recommends this type of design on small spaces like the fingers, or behind the ear, and the wrist.
3. Fine Line Lettering
One of the most elegant minimalistic tattoo designs is to get some sort of delicate lettering. “Signatures and fine line lettering are probably my most requested minimal tattoo,” Jimenez tells Bustle, noting that he often does just one or two words in a very fine print.
This style is also a great way to show remembrance of a sensitive or personal moment, like Chrissy Teigen and John Legends’ matching tattoos in honor of their family.
Floral tattoo designs are a classic, and a minimalist request that Caranfa often gets from clients. Since these are super delicate, she notes it’s important to go with a skilled artist, otherwise it could “look too light” and lose parts of the details.
5. Continuous Line Designs
Continuous line drawings feature a whole image that’s made up of just one line, and they make for cool abstract tattoo designs.
When picking a spot for a continuous line tattoo, Huka, a tattoo artist based in Los Angeles, explains that it’s important go with a smooth area. “Fingers aren’t always the best placement as the skin is different there,” she tells Bustle. “Think about how the design can enhance the spot.”
The key to simple tattoo designs that involve typography is a steady hand. “Simple requires strong line work technique,” Huka tells Bustle of another minimalist option. For these, you can choose to spell out a word that means something to you, or go extra-minimalist with initials.
Adding color to your minimalistic tattoo is the perfect way to make it standout while still remaining subtle. They can provide a pop to a floral design, an abstract continuous line piece, or any symbols you choose to get inked — the options are endless.
Small animal tattoos are a cute option, and any creature can be made into a minimalist design. It’s common to see animal tattoos with lots of shading and intricate details, though Caranfa says that you don’t need “big, bold lines” for these. It’s up to you whether you get ink dedicated to your pet or of an animal that holds a special meaning to you.
A heart is another common minimalist tattoo design idea, and you can go with a dainty outline or a filled in shape (or even add colored ink for more of a pop). Huka notes that designs can be too small, so before going with a super-teeny heart, “ask your artist about longevity and if it will hold up over time,” she tells Bustle.
Simple shapes also make for popular minimalistic tattoos. They simply look cool, especially when done with a fine line technique. Think lightning bolts, zigzags, and cubes. Caranfa tells Bustle that delicate shapes give off a “fresh” look.