Cute Shoulder Tattoo Ideas to Inspire Your Next Design

Getting a new tattoo is exciting, but it can also mean major decision fatigue if you're generally not great about making up your mind. Picking a design and the tattoo placement goes hand in hand — certain pieces will look better on particular areas of the body than others. If you're considering a shoulder tattoo, there are a number of possibilities available to you.

The shoulder is a fairly large area, it's easy to show off or conceal if you're in the mood to hide your tattoo, and as far as pain level goes, it's not the worst spot. If you're on considering getting one but need some shoulder tattoo ideas, you're in luck. Ahead, Jingxi Gu, tattoo artist and owner of Patch Tattoo Therapy in Los Angeles, shares some things you should know before booking your appointment.

What to Know About Shoulder Tattoos

Your tattoo design should be personal. People often go for ideas that pack a deeper meaning to them, but that's not a requirement, of course. As far as what designs look best in this area, Gu tells POPSUGAR, "The shoulder is a huge piece of muscle and tattoos will fit the body better if the tattoo size is bigger." But that doesn't mean you have to pick a massive piece if you're interested in inking this area. Small shoulder tattoos can look just as good. "The tattoo can look elegant if it goes across the front [of the] shoulder along the collarbone," she says.

Do Shoulder Tattoos Hurt?

If you're wondering If shoulder tattoos hurt, Gu says pain level-wise, the shoulder typically isn't considered that bad. It's not as sensitive as bonier locations like the collarbone itself, ribs, or hip. Just keep in mind that everyone's pain tolerance is different.

How to Heal a Shoulder Tattoo

Basic tattoo aftercare should be followed with a shoulder tattoo — this includes washing the area one to two times a day and moisturizing it often. Given the nature of the area, Gu also says, "Limit exercising and don't scratch the tattoo."

Shoulder Tattoo Ideas

Keep scrolling for popular design choices, such as flower shoulder tattoos and delicate script designs.

Flower Shoulder Tattoo

You can choose which way you want your shoulder tattoo to lay: horizontally like this person or vertically going over the top of the shoulder.

Script Shoulder Tattoo

A beautiful script font like Vanessa Hudgens has on the outside of her shoulder is a great idea for a delicate tattoo.

Roman-Numeral Shoulder Tattoo
Getty | Samir Hussein

Roman-Numeral Shoulder Tattoo

Rihanna's ink is a perfect example of how chic a Roman-numeral shoulder tattoo can look running horizontally down the top of the shoulder.

Shoulder Blade Tattoo

If you get your ink on your shoulder blade you can include a few small designs, like this ink of three dragons.

Matching Shoulder Tattoo

Matching shoulder tattoos on either side of the body make a statement. This vine design extends from the front of the shoulder to the back.

Word Shoulder Tattoos
Getty | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin

Word Shoulder Tattoos

Though flowers are a popular option, getting a meaningful word, like Dua Lipa has, can be a great tiny tattoo.

Abstract Sounder Tattoo

This abstract design sits perfectly on the outside of the shoulder.

Large Shoulder Tattoo

This large shoulder tattoo extends from the neck down to the top of the arm and wraps from front to back.

Small Shoulder Tattoo

Celestial tattoo designs are always stunning, including on the shoulder and under the collarbone.

Fine-Line Shoulder Tattoo

Delicate, fine-line tattoos can look beautiful on your shoulder, especially if you carry the design down the arm like this person did.

Twin Shoulder Tattoos

Twin Shoulder Tattoos

Julia Fox has twin shoulder tattoos of a script design on either side of her body.

Shoulder Flower Tattoo

This flower tattoo sits right at the top of the shoulder and extends under the collarbone.

Shoulder Back Tattoo

If you want your tattoo to only be visible from the back, get the design closer to your shoulder blade, like this person did with their 3D heart.