Ten small and stylish tattoos Pin Image

Ten Small and Stylish Tattoos

Author: Lisa Soeno

Gosh there are some awful tattoos out there. Simba from the Lion King/the Nike logo anyone? But, on the other hand, I think a small, discreet, meaningful tattoo can be the epitome of cool.

I personally have never been tempted to get a tattoo. When my friends were getting Chinese symbols/dolphins/yin yang signs inked onto the bottom of their backs in the nineties I couldn’t get the old ‘but what will that tattoo look like when you’re old and wrinkly’ advice out of my head. Plus, I’m terrified of needles.

Rich is someone who should possibly have heeded that advice. He got his tattoo (his surname, in celtic font, at the top of his back) when he was 18. It’s nearly as bad as a Simba, and his mum cried when she found out about it. I found it hilarious when I first saw it, but these days I don’t even notice it. Apparently it was a spur-of-the-moment thing and his one regret. The only time I’ve ever seen him embarrassed was when we went away with some of his colleagues and he was considering not getting into the swimming pool because he didn’t want to expose his tattoo. (I’ve not yet told him that it’s sometimes visible through a white shirt)…

Small Tattoo Inspiration

As you’ve probably gathered, the likelihood of me getting a tattoo any time soon is very slim. (Unless I did a Helen Mirren and ended up blind drunk). HOWEVER, if I were ever to get inked, I’d be taking inspiration from some of the tiny, tasteful tats from the following gallery.

Have you got a small tattoo, or any tattoo(s) for that matter? How old were you when you got yours and do you regret it? Was it a spur of the moment thing, or did you think long and hard about what to have and where?

Anyone else reduce their parents to tears? Or maybe your parents are still none the wiser?!

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Author: Lisa Soeno
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35 thoughts on “Ten Small and Stylish Tattoos

  1. this is perfect timing. I’m 30 next week so of course I’m getting a tattoo and changing my hair! This is exactly what I want. My issue is finding someone who does/ specialises in this kind of tattoo. If anyone can recommend someone in London (even better if south east) I’ll be forever grateful!

  2. I very seriously considered getting coloured stars (purple, blue and red) when I was on study abroad in2004. Very early 2000s and emo. So glad I didn’t.

    I still like the idea of very small star outlines like the above for each of my babies. When our first baby Alexandra died I nearly did but decided it was a decision better made with a clear head.

    Maybe when I’m 40…..

  3. I have four tattoos, I got them all in my early 20s – I’m 30 now. Hid the first three (which I got in quick succession between the ages of 21 – 23) from my very straight laced and traditional father for years (he knows now though and was surprisingly cool about it!)

    I started with fairly small and easy to hide designs – an Egyptian Ankh on my left hip and a scorpion above my right kidney – then moved on to a big, full colour Mexican day of the dead sugar skull on my right inner upper arm! Cardigans and half sleeve tops keep it covered in the office, although they don’t enforce a no tattoo policy I feel it looks much more professional to keep it hidden. Finally I got a black line drawing Gemma Correll pug tattooed on my right ankle – a dedication to my now deceased pug :'( I think this one is my favourite as he is so cute and I’m not concerned about keeping him hidden in the office as he is much less conspicuous.

    I don’t regret any of my tattoos and would definitely have more if it weren’t the time / money factor (being a home owner and a responsible adult now means my money is sadly prioritised elsewhere!) I thought for a long time about my designs and they all hold meaning for me, I have a small list of designs I’d get in the future too – things I have loved and wanted for a very long time.

    1. Your dad sounds EXACTLY like mine Teddy! (This may have been a factor in why I never got a tattoo…).

      Yes I think the ones with real sentiment and meaning are definitely the best. x

  4. I had always flirted with the idea from the age of 17 but could never commit to a design or wear to have it and decided I was to indecisive to ever do it.

    Fast forward to last summer and following the bomb attack at Manchester Arena, local tattoo parlours spent a weekend doing the Worker Bee tattoo with all money going to the charity fund set up to help those caught up in the attack. In an instant I knew what I wanted.

    I checked my husband wouldn’t absolutely hate it (he didn’t and was the same as me, always open to the idea of a tattoo but never sure what to have or where!).

    So at 37 I had my first tattoo. It’s on the inside of my wrist and I love it.

    I was surprised how much it didn’t hurt (I’m aware it’s v small and was done in 10 minutes!) it just felt a bit scrapey- no worse than a smear test!

    Oh, I did have to face the disapproving looks of my parents 🤦‍♀️. Only because they looked after my two year old whilst I had it done! My mum had since said whilst she hates tattoos mine is ‘very nice for a tattoo’!

    I love the stars and the constellation ones. I am considering another at some point!

    1. Vicky I spent ages trying to find a nice pic of a tiny bee tattoo for the gallery but could I find one? Could I heck!

      I love that you still had disapproving looks from your parents even aged 37!

  5. I got my first tattoo aged 38 on my hen do. My three best friends and I snuck off before the others arrived and each had a different suit from a deck of cards with a little crown. All in different places and all teeny. Mines in the same place as the first one in your pictures so quite hidden and discreet and I don’t regret it at all. It’s a reminder of a great weekend, my best friends and also of a time when I felt in control of my life. I mean I think by waiting so long I had no regrets or anxiety about what to get etc.
    Everyone said it’s addictive but not for me. I have no desire to have anymore. One is enough.

    I used to hate them. One of my friends who loved them challenged me on it about five years ago and almost to prove a point to her I went on a date with a heavily tattooed man with a sleeve, full back piece etc. I’m now married to that man. 😉

    If you think you’ll find something you’ll like forever then go for it. If you don’t-then don’t. As I see it our bodies are going to look pretty scary at 80 whatever we do to them in the interim.

    1. Flippin great tattoo stories Emma! Love the fact that you and your friends are now linked for life – you’re like modern day blood brothers. And I’m ahhhhing over “I’m now married to that man”.

      It’s my best mate’s hen do in September, I wonder if there’s a tattoo parlour in Ludlow. Ha ha!

  6. I have one tattoo and am planning my second right now. I nearly got what would have been a disastrous tattoo aged 18, thankfully the tattoo artist was very wise and advised against it saying i would definitely regret it – he was so right!!! But ever since then i always wanted a tattoo just didn’t know what i wanted.
    So aged 43 I went and got my first tattoo – I put tonnes of thought into what I wanted, found a design that i loved and that is symbolic to me, I also spend ages researching where to have it done. My second one i am going through the same process. They are on my torso so very hidden from everyday life unless someone is seeing me in underwear or a bikini 🙂

    1. Janey you obvs need to tell me more about all of these tattoos!

      What did you want to get inked when you were 18? Which did you go for aged 43? What are you thinking for your next?!

      1. Lisa – well here goes 😀
        When i was 18 I wanted the rose & scroll from the Manic Street Preachers album of the time – and the scroll had the script “useless generation” which I am SO pleased now that the tattoo artist was ermm no you will regret that! I wanted it on my shoulder blade.

        Age 43 – having come out the other side of divorce and basically rebuilding my life somewhere new I wanted to do something totally for me and wanted something that symbolised strength & new beginnings – and now i have a beautiful watercolour hummingbird & lotus flower on my hip

        For my next – it is actually being designed for me now – watercolour again – peonies will play a role (because i love them and they are beautiful) and i want it to tie in with my existing tattoo – so final design still to be seen – and that will be a side piece on ribs on the opposite side – I’m very excited 😀

  7. I’ve got a tattoo on my shoulder. It’s some benign Celtic style shape in a turquoise blue that I had done when I was 16.. I then had some stars added to it a few years later in America to try and improve it. Which obviously it didn’t!

    If anyone ever asks me if it stands for anything I say yes – it stands for ‘don’t get a tattoo done when you’re 16, you will regret it!’

    I don’t really notice it now but would like to get it covered up one day. I also have one behind my ear that’s a combination of mine and my sister’s initials that we had done on her hen weekend and I like that one still. We also said if/when we go back to Vegas we’ll have a small dice tattooed on us somewhere.

    The pictures you’ve selected are far more classy!

    1. Ahh Jennifer, I think the 16 year old versions of ourselves would’ve been mates! This sounds very similar to the choices my friends made! x

  8. I have two tattoos – one on my right shoulder blade and at the bottom of my back, of course. 2001 has a lot to answer for! The one on my shoulder is a small pisces symbol that I had planned on getting for a couple of years before going through with it, and one on my back is a tribal symbol.

    I don’t regret the tattoos as such, but wish I had waited until I was older to decide on something a bit more tasteful. I would like to cover up the one on my shoulder and I really like watercolour tattoos. I think I would also like to do something with the lower back tattoo, but it is a bit bigger and would need planning out a bit more.

    There is also a bit a story to my back tattoo. I had it done at 19 while my best friend had moved away to live with her sister for a while. Fast forward six months and the best friend and I went on holiday together. On the first day by the pool I noticed she had a tattoo at the bottom of her back. You should have seen our faces when we realised we had separately got exactly the same tattoo in the same place.

    Every so often I get tempted to look at small tattoos and although a lot of people have them, feathers can be really pretty. When my gran died I was seriously thinking about a feather and ended up wimping out, but the thought hasn’t gone away.

    1. Claire B…how spooky! My friends and I have sometimes turned up wearing the same/similar stuff but having the same tattoo is another level 🙂

      A feather for your gran is a lovely thought. x

  9. I got a tiny daisy tattoo on my toe when I was 18. Several friends also got tattoos in their toe at the same time, and at the time in seemed the ultimate rebellion. Fast forward 20 years and I’m pretty indifferent about it; I’m relieved I went very small & subtle and it always surprises people when they find out I have one. Personally I’m not really into tattoos and my husband hates them, but I can see the beauty in those that are personal and have meaning. I don’t know much about Arianna Grand but thought the bee tattoo she had behind her ear was beautifully symbolic.

    One point I would make about the tattoos in your pictures is that they will fade and will not look black and crisp for ever. My daisy was a black outline with purple flowers, but it’s now more of a blue smudge… black and purple clearly don’t work well together over time! X

    1. I didn’t know about Arianna Grande’s tattoo…you’re right, it’s SO beautifully symbolic.

      And I also didn’t know that they will fade and smudge. How interesting! x

      1. it depends on the skill of the artist and the depth and quality of the ink as to if/ how much they fade/ smudge

  10. I was rather shocked/surprised when I saw this was the topic for RMS today! So different!

    I appreciate that for some, their designs have a lot of meaning to them. However, I feel really strongly against them and I can’t, honestly, really explain why. Perhaps it’s my clean cut wholesome girl thing. Maybe it’s because I trained as a military officer and standards were very high on what is acceptable appearance. I work in what is effectively diplomacy and know I would judge (and be judged on) tattoos.

    The vast majority of friends in their 30s/40s who have them don’t like them anymore. There are so many ways of expressing yourself that are less permanent!

    Don’t get me wrong, I have occasionally posed the hypothetical question ‘if I had to have a tattoo, what would I have? I just can’t think of anything that has longevity.

    One of my friends has always coveted a white tattoo of a tiny anchor, on her inner wrist or ankle. Very rare!

    1. It’s not very RMS is it Bunny?! However I am absolutely loving all the stories and sentiments behind the tattoos. x

  11. I considered it when I was 18. So glad I didn’t. The designs I was looking at make me cringe so much now. My husband has full back, one sleeve, both lower legs, one across chest and across lower stomach. But the absolute best one is his mom’s name in a heart on his arse cheek as a result of losing a drunken bet whilst on a lads holiday. I don’t notice the others too much anymore but that one makes me laugh. What an idiot 😂. She never found out about it either! I like the look of these small, discreet tattoos, but I’d worry that they would blur quite quickly in comparison to a more substantial one. I’m still not overly keen on the idea of tattoos in general though (sorry husband 😳). I think my tastes change too frequently to be able to pick something I’ll like forever.

  12. I have deliberated for years on getting a tattoo but i’m so fussy on the style, i did a lot of research and the fine line ones (similar to the ones you’ve shown) are my favourite. I cant find a single European artist that does exactly what i want, my favourites are all in Seoul, by chance i was there 2 years ago but its actually illegal in s Korea to operate as a tattoo artist so its all done very underhand (you text them and they send someone to meet you and take you up to an apartment to get it done) given my limited Korean language skills and not wanting to end up arrested on holiday i decided against it! I also found that for the fine line style you need to get them re worked every couple of years to keep them fresh which wouldnt be an option if the artist lived on the other side of the world. I bought some temporary ones from an artist in Korea called ‘sol tattoo’ on instagram so they are doing the job for now!

  13. I got my first tattoo 4 years ago when i was 22, just something small on my side. Took me a good couple months to be sure i wanted it and i dont regret it yet, my mum came with me and got something herself, hers is even more on show than mine! Then i got a couple more the next year on my wrists and considering the next one to get soon.

  14. I have one I did myself with a needle and pot of ink when I was 17. I still love it as a reminder of being fearless and impulsive. Things I am not at all 28 years later.

    I’m finally having another one done this year now I have found someone near me who does traditional hand poke tattoos. A wave in a hexagon which will hopefully grow into a series of interlocking hexagons.

      1. its basically tattooing by without the machine, so building up hundreds/ thousand of tiny dots of ink each one by hand. It has a very different feel to the clean crisp lines of machine tattoos but I love it.

  15. I have always thought I might get one but have never settled on what. It would be song lyrics for sure (in a type writer vintage feel kind of font) but I’m not sure what! I’m an indie girl and always have been (35 now but still adore seeing my favourite bands). My favourite lyric is too long (from a Killer song- ‘the stars are blazing like rebel diamonds, cutnour of the sun’) so I’ve never really come to any decision. My husband is a bit more straight laced than me and isn’t keen on tattoos but if I ever decide on something that wouldn’t put me off

  16. I was 16 for tattoo #1. In art class I use Indian ink to put my boyfriend’s initials DK, ( Looked just like the Dead Kennedy sign) on the skin between my thumb and index finger, some my Dad wouldn’t notice. I was 17 for tattoo #2. I picked a solid black sun under my navel. The tattoo artist said “You know that’s going to look bad after you have kids.”. To which my reply was, I’m only going to have children with the man I marry. He was correct now it looks somewhat like a sad Christmas tree… My ex-husband never said anything about it….lol. I was 18 for tattoo #3. I hosted a tattoo party, the artist had only practice on pig skin and my friend. I designed it myself & wanted it, (the 💓 with ribbon around it and boyfriends name in my handwriting next to it) on the small of my back. I believe nowadays it’s called a tramp stamp. Tattoo #4 I was 18, same artist, same boyfriend. In Old English font Jay (my boyfriend’s name), to cover up my first tattoo (ex boyfriends initials DK).
    (No regrets being a guinea pig for that artist. He did a good job. 24 years later he’s still at it. His name is Anthony Reynosa, he owns
    Ink Dependant Tattoo’s, Winthrop Harbor, Illinois)
    I was 37 for my next two tattoos. # 5 (small ❤️) on my chest. #6 (small ❤️) on skin between my thumb & index finger, to cover up tattoo #4 which covered up tattoo #1. I was 38 for tattoo #7, it says THOMAS across my wrist ( My second husbands last name). I was 39 for tattoo #8, Love Kills Slowly, on my left shoulder blade. I was 41 for my last two tattoos. #9 an infinity sign on my wrist (above THOMAS). #10 “This Too Shall Pass” is placed verticallyonon my left forearm. I’m now 42 and ready for another! This time a friend of mine & I are getting small matching tattoos, TBD what & where. Thanks for the ideas!

    1. >In art class I use Indian ink to put my boyfriend’s initials DK

      Not just a hand tattoo, but a hand tattoo of your teenage boyfriend’s initials… now that’s what I call bravery.

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