There are a million different reasons to stick with simple tattoos. For one, they cost very little. Because of their small size, they use very little ink and time, and that drives their price down. They’re also incredibly convenient to place, and you can get them anywhere you want. If tattoo covers are considered pieces of art, then these simple tattoos can be considered accents. They are small pieces that make you stand out, rather than pieces of work meant to stand on their own. Since simple tattoos focus more on meaning than content, they manage to say a lot with just a little ink. They’re also an excellent way to get started with tattoos, since they are easily removable or hidden. They prepare you for what a large tattoo feels like. Plus, you don’t need much tattoo numbing cream before your session!
In this article, we’re going to go through over forty simple tattoo designs of all different types. We’ll go over their meanings, different kinds of styles, and different kinds of themes you can get for simple tattoos. Most of these designs are solid black ink tattoos that you could get at any store (which still benefit from the use of lidocaine cream). That’s what makes them so simple! Despite being so small, there are a huge variety of shapes that people have been drawn to over the years!
Simple Name Tattoos
The first thing everyone learns to draw is their name. Even if you don’t know exactly which letters are which, you know what they look like, and you’re able to copy them. Letters create the most simple form of art, and simple name tattoos cost very little for this reason. Unless your artist doesn’t know how to spell, there’s no way for them to mess it up. Unless, of course, they forget to tell you about the best lotions for tattoo aftercare.
The different fonts say a lot about the name. We already spoke about different kinds of tattoo fonts in a previous article, but we constantly discover new layers of art. Cursive fonts are very whimsical, often associated with the names of ladies. Gothic is authoritative and historical, showing a kind of reverence. Roman square capitals…well, they’re as close to normal script as you can get! Lastly, Uncial gives a weird fantasy look, similar to the script on the One Ring from Lord of the Rings. Many different kinds of fonts exist beyond the ones I named, of course. Graffiti-inspired fonts look particularly fantastic in tattoo work. Whatever you choose, make sure it represents the personality of whatever name you are writing. These fonts all tend to be simple, which means you can get them at any tattoo shop!
Simple Tattoo Flowers
Flowers are beautiful things, but you can’t exactly capture a rose in a simple design. Thankfully, the world is full of more than just roses. Simple tattoo flower designs borrow a lot from calligraphy. Their thin vines, branches, and leaves swirl in the same way a calligraphy pen would. The dots are a common way of accenting calligraphic designs, as well. Although roses usually count as complex tattoos, sometimes you see them. Artists us the iris more frequently, along with the lotus, lily, daisy, tulip, violet, and sunflower. Each flower tells a very different meaning.
Irises represent faith, friendship, hope, and heaven. The lotus connects to spirituality, wisdom, and purity. Daisies represent innocence, childhood, and unrequited love—or a granted childhood love. Violets represent a calm or modest love, and they are sometimes associated with gay relationships. This association goes back as far as ancient Greece. Every single flower has its own meaning, thanks to some English ladies who had some free time on their hands. The whole thing is referred to as the Flower Language, and it’s certainly good to know if you ever plan on getting flowers for a date! If you’re an artist, I recommend using specialized tattoo beds and tattoo chairs so that you can really work on the detail of tiny flower tattoos.
Simple Heart Tattoos
While the heart might be a simple symbol, there are still a thousand ways to draw it. It’s so common that there are various different drawing styles for the heart symbol alone, just as there would be for different letters of the alphabet! You can add curves to make the heart more eloquent, or keep the curves thin and solid, making it more professional. A dotted line could represent where a heart was sewn in—or maybe missing—while a filled in heart represents fulfilled love. You can combine letters to create a heart shape, or even musical symbols! It also looks lovely in a solid shade of red, making it one of the few simple tattoos that look good in color.
Simple Tattoos for Men
If you would like to avoid the girly designs of flowers and hearts, then there are plenty of options for you. Usually, simple tattoos for men have a tribal theme. Sharp swirls and spikes make a simple tattoo pop. Since the design is essentially geometric, they count as simple tattoos despite looking impressive! The shapes can be used to create images of animals, such as lions, wolves, or birds of prey to give them more meaning. Other symbols, such as the shape of a sun or heart, are easy to incorporate without looking too feminine.
Of course, you don’t have to go with the tribal designs if you want to avoid a girly design. Anything with straight edges or dark, solid shading will tend to look masculine. Silhouettes work very well for this sort of thing, since they have a solid shape with very little blank areas. Crosses are also a common symbol that works well on any gender, and we’ll get into them more in just a moment. When choosing a design, remember that it doesn’t matter what gender that tattoo is getting across. What matters is that it represents who you are, whether it’s manly or girly or something else entirely.
Simple Tattoo Crosses
Since many of the prominent scribes were deeply religious, it makes sense that there are a thousand different ways to create a cross. Different styles don’t have particularly different meanings. Rather, the meaning is up to the individual who gets the tattoo. It is almost unanimously about their dedication to Jesus Christ, but sometimes people will give it a different association entirely. Either way, the cross is one of the most agreeable tattoo designs in the western world.
Even if there’s no special meaning to it, sometimes it’s nice to customize the design of the cross. Adding barbs or spikes on the end make it resemble the metal crosses used in ancient churches, while sharp ends with no decorations resemble the Gothic era architecture. Adding small flames to the side gives it a spiritual flare, since those flames represent the Holy Spirit. You can also use other things, such as vines, flowers, or swirls, to give it a different flair. It’s common for the cross to even be combined with a heart, to represent the soul.
Simple Star Tattoos
There are three kinds of simple star tattoos, at least when it comes to five-pointed stars. The first one is a star with a solid interior, the second is the outline of a star, and the third is a star design you might recognize from maps as a capital city marker. This third design looks impressive, but it’s just two pinwheels made of triangles overlaid on top of each other, each going in opposite directions. Stars are a universal symbol, appearing both in nature and as an icon for celestial bodies. Although stars don’t actually have any spikes on them, the twinkling of the stars inspired artists to depict them with the same shape as the starfish. The appeal of perfect geometric designs eventually led to some very beautiful star charts and illustrations of the sky.
Of course, while there are three basic designs, there are countless variants of simple star tattoos. You can look at the shapes of starfish in nature that have been selected for over years of evolution and still find hundreds of different shapes and sizes. Picking one for a tattoo design is tricky, especially if you want to keep it simple. It gets even trickier if you don’t limit it to five points. My personal favorite is the septagram, a seven-pointed star that kind of resembles a flower. Combining these designs with Celtic-style knots makes for an impressive tattoo despite the simple design.
Simple Wrist Tattoos
Of course, there’s no written law that says you need to choose certain kind of shapes for a tattoo to be simple. As long as something requires just one type of ink and uses silhouettes or geometric shapes to show an image, instead of something cartoonish or realistic, then it qualifies as a simple tattoo. With wrist tattoos, script tattoos are the most common. It’s very easy to fit a small tattoo quote somewhere on your arm. Butterflies, hearts, eternity symbols, and sometimes just a single word can find their home here.
Using the wrist as a location for your simple tattoo is a good idea if you want to make sure others see it without having to wear a bikini or go without socks. The wrist is visible almost 100% of the time, meaning everyone who meets you will also be aware of your tattoo. Whatever you choose to get there, make sure it represents you, because your tattoo will often be the first impression people have of you!
Simple Foot Tattoos
The foot area, especially around the ankle, is an intimate place to keep your tattoos. It’s a place that someone you speak to every day may never see. On the other hand, all of the friends you go swimming with will see it the moment you step out in your bathing suit. This area is reserved for your friends, family, and lovers, so it makes sense that simple tattoos in this area seem to have a different theme.
Tattoos focusing on beauty, such as flowers and vines, are very common as simple foot tattoos. Quotes, stars, and birds are also common features. But, despite this general theme, there are some designs that are entirely unique. Tattoos in this area represent the true you, not the you that others around you see every day. If you’re getting a simple tattoo in this area, make sure it resonates with you to the very core.
Simple Tattoo Quotes
We already have a whole article dedicated to picking out tattoo quotes and scripts, but that may not help if you are just looking for something simple! Here are a few tips on narrowing down all those quotes so you can pick which one you want. First, since it will be for a tattoo, you don’t really want a paragraph of text. The location you get it changes the amount of words that can reasonably fit, and the location changes the recommended font size for the area. Smaller text makes sense for an area like the wrist—if people can see the tattoo, then they are likely to be able to read it even if the tattoo is small! On the other hand, if the tattoo quote is going on your back, small text may not be the best idea.
Generally, tattoo artists will do five words per line of text. You can do the math for however many lines you are willing to permit. If you have chosen a strange spot for your tattoo, go ahead and ask a friend to write down the quote you want, using the ruler as a guide and only putting four or five words per line. You should be able to tell from those results whether the quote is suited to being on your skin at all! If you do fall in love with a quote that is quite long, you can paraphrase it to make it more suitable for a simple quote tattoo. Ten words seems to be the magic number, when it comes to simple tattoo quotes.
Give Simple Tattoos a Chance!
Whether you choose a heart, star, tribal wolf, or script tattoo, your tattoo design represents who you are. Where you put it says a lot about who you are—and that’s a good thing, because it saves a lot of talking! Simple tattoos are an easy way to communicate what you like, a good conversation starter for what you love, and something precious that will remain with you for your entire life. While they might be called simple, the meaning and power they carry is incredible, and they are an excellent way to introduce yourself to the world of tattoos. Are they the best ones? You decide! Comment!
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our other articles at InkDoneRight.com! We have dozens of tattoo design galleries (like the White Ink or Roman Numeral Tattoos), information on getting a tattoo, instructions on tattoo aftercare, and even historical articles of ink as art! As always, thanks for reading!