80 Great Shoulder Tattoos for Men and Women to try


Getting a brand new tattoo is always exciting, no matter if you have gotten one before, or if this is your very first tattoo. Choosing which design of tattoo to go with is already difficult, but then you also have to think about where you want to place it, which is also a difficult choice. You first need to think about whether you’re planning to show your new ink off – Plenty of workplaces are still turning down people who apply for their jobs if they happen to have prominent tattoos, so this is one of the things you need to consider.

A shoulder tattoo is quickly turning itself into one of the most popular forms of skin art. The shoulders are flat and wide, providing tattoo artists with the best kind of canvas to create their very own intricate design which you can show off, or cover up if you wish. These tattoos are also highly popular among both guys and girls. People oftentimes get shoulder tattoos, since it’s much more prominent compared to other areas on the body. If you have already completed a huge back piece, then get a tiny one on your shoulder instead.

Shoulders are usually a very prime spot here. And not only that, it’s pretty broad and huge as well: Shoulders refer to that spot in your body where the flat shoulder blades on your back connect just below your collar bones. There are two reasons as to why your shoulders are the best places for you to get a tattoo. First off, this is a huge area in general, so all of the big pieces fit together nicely – And this includes portrait tattoos. Another reason why this area is just perfect is because these tattoos can be covered up very nicely, as much as they are exposed. And since you can cover them up, people get a bit more creative in regards to shoulder tattoo designs overall. The only thing you need to do to hide it is to wear a shirt, and you’re all set. But if you’re the flashy, confident type, you can still put on a tank top and allow people to take a closer look at your body art.

Types of Shoulder Tattoo Designs                                 

Getting a tattoo isn’t exactly different from signing a contract with a fine pen. Once it reaches your skin, then it stays there forever. And basically every individual who has acquired a new piece of ink is fully aware just how time-consuming, pricey, and uncomfortable a tattoo removing-process could really be. But in case you’re not too enthusiastic about having to go through all of that, then the only thing you need to arm yourself with is knowledge, right before you step inside that tattoo shop.

Shoulder tattoos are technically a small part of a larger arm sleeve tattoo, while the bigger ones pass right through the chest and back area of the wearer. But the main objective here is to actually get some great ideas going, so you can feel inspired to try on a new design.

Every shoulder tattoo design out there carries their own unique shape, size, and style. You and your artist can talk and come up with something that’s uniquely you, as the two of you go through several designs. Starting from tribal to geometric patterns to clocks, to koi fish, to wings, bones, and so much more – There’s just no limit when it comes to some amazing shoulder tattoo ideas.

It doesn’t really matter which type of tattoo design you want to try out during that moment, or even figure out if you really want to get yourself a tattoo in the first place.  Instead, go for a design that’s really special and means a lot to you. What is this design supposed to represent? Why do you want to get this as a tattoo?

  • Abstract Elephant Shoulder Tattoo: This is an elephant tattoo that is comprised of some really amazing and vibrant colors. It’s a stunning tattoo since the bottom half of the elephant features colors that run down like paint and watercolor, instead of seeing the elephant’s feet. This is one of the best examples of building images that contain some really amazing colors.
  • Japanese-Style Dragon Shoulder Tattoo: This is a dragon tattoo that is securely wrapped around the wearer’s arm and goes on through his chest. It stops just right above the wearer’s heart. This is a dragon tattoo that is filled with plenty of details, including shades of color in each of its individual scales, giving off a rather reflective appearance on the creature’s stomach, as well as amazing line work. According to East Asian culture, the dragon represents luck, and serves to guide humanity through their troubles.
  • Flower And Bird Shoulder Tattoo: This tattoo depicts a purple flower drawn right beside the wearer’s shoulder socket. Meanwhile, the rest of the flowers, along with a group of birds, all go down towards the wearer’s upper arm.
  • Pacific Islander Shoulder Tattoo: The Pacific Islander tattoo is meant to be drawn only in black ink, to retain its traditional look. When completed, this tribal-style shoulder tattoo can cover up at least half of the wearer’s upper arm, and goes right towards the chest and his back. There’s actually another variant of this particular tattoo – It places a unique twist in the standard imagery that is represented in most tattoos of a similar nature. So instead of going through just one singular geometric pattern, the artist behind this design layered up these patterns as well and accentuate them with a negative amount of spacing.
  • Sparrow Shoulder Tattoo: As the name suggests, this tattoo design features a bird breaking free out of a beautiful bird cage, surrounded by pink and red flowers. This tattoo design has a lovely color distribution to it, and allows the images to look different from one another, all the while coming together in a beautiful piece of artwork.

Meaning of Shoulder Tattoos                                           

A shoulder tattoo allows you to copy whatever idea you want. There’s enough open space in your shoulder, letting your artist create a tattoo of various genres, designs, and sizes. Another advantage of having a shoulder tattoo is that it gives your artist the chance to enhance the sketch, if they have to do it.

The designs found on a shoulder tattoo will look colorful and bright for a long period of time, since they’re well-protected from the sunlight oftentimes, and they aren’t kept hidden beneath a piece of fabric. The skin on your shoulders are elastic, so the design won’t be ruined even if you strain too much. However, it’s always a good idea to keep yourself fit if you want your shoulder tattoo to look attractive for several years.

Shoulder Tattoos have reached popularity with both women and men. Even though your shoulders aren’t seen too often and your tattoo could be hidden under a piece of cloth, the shoulder remains the popular choice for people to get a tattoo. The tattoos placed on this spot could go for a tiny one, to something very large. Even a back tattoo can extend going on towards the chest and shoulder area.

Some people decide to get shoulder tattoos since it’s more prominent compared to other spots of the body. In case you already have a giant tattoo on your back, you need to get a tinier tattoo finished on your shoulder – One that is preferably related to the back piece so it won’t seem out of place. Women enjoy getting their shoulders tattooed since it gives off a sexy and confident aura. But as mentioned, this part of the body isn’t always visible.

Before getting yourself a shoulder tattoo, always think about which design you need to place there. Make sure it is a design that truly expresses your own personality. Put on a fake tattoo first to see how a real one would look on your shoulder. No matter if the design is large or small, there’s no other tattoo that could look completely out of place, especially on a person’s shoulders, since it’s versatile and completely visible. So you should consider the shoulders as one of the best locations to place a tattoo in.

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The Best Placement For Shoulder Tattoo Designs

The positioning of your shoulder tattoos will all depend on its size, since they give off an excellent surface area to include a tattoo design properly. At the same time, shoulders are mostly exposed to the public, and a tattoo on that spot can catch somebody’s eye. Shoulders carry tattoos nicely, or just become a wonderful starting point for those who want a full-sleeve or half-sleeve tattoo.

Several guys out there might choose to go for a more dramatic shoulder tattoo design, since shoulders do make an excellent tattoo canvas. In this case, tribal and geometrical tattoo patterns work the best here – Some might decide to start off the tattoo on their shoulders, then have it go all the way across their backs, and head on down towards the other shoulder. Meanwhile, other types of shoulder tattoos could go downwards towards the arms or their upper backs, and head back towards the front, right near the neck area.

But these tattoos aren’t just limited to men – Women enjoy having big shoulder tattoos as well, choosing for elaborate designs. Or maybe they could opt for a more delicate theme, such as flowers, an angel, or even a butterfly.

Shoulder Tattoos Preparation Tips                                                 

Pain is one of the deciding factors in regards to where you want your tattoo to be placed on, even though there are still some people who want to put their new ink in whatever place is the most hidden by clothes, or just wherever they feel is the right position to place the tattoo in. For example, runners or athletes might get a tattoo of Mercury, the winged god, at their ankle to increase their speed or give them enough energy to continue running.

So where exactly is the place where getting a tattoo hurts the most? People who have experienced getting tattoos would say it’s the spine, the stomach, the chest, and the ankle. There’s also the foot, the fingers, as well as the ribcage. The arms, the legs, the thighs, and the back are the least painful.

You shouldn’t take any form of medicine or even aspirin before the procedure can begin – Since these types of medications can thin out the blood. It makes your tattoo bleed out twice as much and can stop your body from healing naturally.

After you enter the shop for your appointment, your artist will give you a picture of the stencil containing the design that the two of you have agreed on. There are some artists out there who use a special type of thermal paper that makes an instant transfer. This will be the last time that you can make changes regarding the design of your ink.

Plenty of shops out there will ask for the payment up front. This guarantees that the artist is already paid, depending on what the final result of your tattoo would look like. When it comes to the tattooing business, satisfaction isn’t exactly guaranteed here – And what’s worse is that it’s hard to obtain a refund.

Before the process can start, the artist will first ask for proof of your age, as well as contact details in case something bad happens. This is a mandatory step. Meanwhile, in Asian countries, the artist has every right to reject your request for a tattoo, at their own discretion.

How long the entirety of the process will take ultimately depends on the tattoo’s own design, as well as the amount of colors it takes to create the correct shading. A large tattoo could take several sessions to complete.

Pain To Expect When Getting Shoulder Tattoos        

Much like other tattoos out there, you will feel intense pain when you get your shoulders done. But according to most tattoo artists and tattoo enthusiasts , women have said that the shoulders are actually one of the least-painful spots that you can get a tattoo on. But then again each person has a different threshold for pain, so the amount of pain that you feel when you get a tattoo placed on your shoulders does vary from one individual to another.

Shoulders actually do get a horrible reputation for being one of the worst and most painful spots to get a tattoo on, but they’re not as different as getting a tattoo on your legs or your arms, or just about any other place where pain isn’t really felt. The outside of your shoulder is the least painful part of the entire area. Meanwhile, getting a tattoo on the top shoulders or on the trapezoid might sting a bit, but not that much. Shoulder blades are the worst part of the shoulder to place a tattoo, but then again, the pain in that area isn’t even that great – And you’re going to have to take breaks in between sessions. Compared to other body parts, the shoulders are that one area where you will get that tattoo done easily, without facing any excruciating pain.

The equipment pushes the tattoo ink through two layers of a person’s skin. This is where the needle passes through your skin a couple of times per minute. The amount of discomfort felt here will all depend on your tolerance for pain.

Frequently Asked Questions On Getting Shoulder Tattoos

  • Will Having A Tattoo Make It Harder For Me To Get A Good Job?

Nowadays, tattoos are considered to be much more acceptable than before, and in other workplaces, people now tend to judge you based on your working skills, instead of how you look like – And that’s always a great thing. Of course, there are still a couple of exceptions: Some people get tattoos that are so prominent, that it could create problems for the wearer in regards to their profession. There are still some work areas that are extremely conservative and won’t hesitate to fire or reject job hopefuls. When applying for a professional or conservative job, make sure that your outward appearance fits the workplace’s criteria, and this includes body art.

  • How Long Does It Take For A Shoulder Tattoo To Heal?

Every person has their own set of unique skin properties, as well as a strong or weak immune system. This means that no two people will heal in the same manner or the same speed. An important thing to remember here while your shoulder tattoo is in the process of healing, is to not pick, scratch, or peel off the scabs no matter how tempting it might seem. The same can be said of removing the pieces of peeling skin as the skin heals. A huge scab that still clings onto your tattoo is still formed deep into your skin, affecting the layers where the pigment has been stored in. These scabs aren’t ready to fall off just yet. Pulling it off prematurely can also remove the ink from the tattooed area and leave empty or faded spots of color onto your skin, and change the look of your tattoo.

  • Can You Exercise After Getting A Shoulder Tattoo?

Yes, you are allowed to exercise after you get yourself a brand new shoulder tattoo. But as much as possible, avoid going out in the sun, sunbathing, doing stretches, or strenuous exercises that make you sweat a lot, so your tattoo will heal correctly. Don’t put your tattoo out in direct sunlight until it’s completely healed. If you like exercising outdoors, just wear a shirt that covers up your shoulders. For instance, if you need to go out for a jog, put on a loose cotton t-shirt. And once your tattoo is all healed up, wear sunblock that’s SPF30 or greater to lessen the fading, which could happen if you constantly expose your tattoo to the sunlight. Check out how your skin is feeling after doing exercises or any other outdoor physical activity, to stop your tattoo from getting irritated, since this can cause scabs.

  • Should You Tip Your Tattoo Artist?

You should definitely leave a tip for your artist, even if it still hurts physically handing them some cash. When you’re on a tight budget and you still got yourself a good tattoo, then the tip should be considered as a part of the cost. But if you can’t afford both the tip and the tattoo, then wait a while until you have accumulated more cash before you can get it done.

  • Why Do Tattoos Itch?

Your skin will begin repairing itself a few days after the tattoo session and will look less inflamed – Even though it still feels a bit sore. It also might start drying out and feel a bit tight, meaning that your body is creating new skin, and the top layer will now begin to scab over. This could go up to four days, thanks to your skin regenerating, and the skin being pulled tightly. The skin will start peeling off by this time, which increases the amount of itchiness.

How Much Does A Shoulder Tattoo Cost?                   

The price of a tattoo could depend according to the design as well as the size. Of course, the more comprehensive and big the design is, the more expensive the final pricing would be, compared to a tiny tattoo with minimal detail. And at the same time, a shoulder tattoo that only uses black ink is also much more affordable compared to a technicolor one. That’s because tattoos that come in different shades of color also need a bit more detail here, and the bigger the amount of detail it has, the more time it takes for the artist to fully complete it. And because the final charges are assigned by the hour, those who aren’t too enthusiastic about spending plenty of cash could choose to go for a tattoo that uses a singular color instead, or opt for one that isn’t too detailed.

The place where you decide to put your tattoo on all depends on which part of the body you want it to be. Certain parts of the human body contain nerves, which in turn have sensitivity receptors. This means that there are parts of the body that might seem a bit more sensitive than the rest. Placing a tattoo on one of these sensitive parts could actually be more expensive than the common ones. The sensitive parts include the hands, the feet, the neck, and the sternum. Meanwhile, the least-sensitive parts include the butt, the shoulders, and the outer thighs.

If you’re still not certain about what kind of tattoo design you want to get, then you can ask your artist to come up with something, so you can get an idea. This could actually cost over $20, but it will end up becoming your tattoo anyway, if you do approve of the design. But if the design isn’t an original, then it could cost much cheaper. If you’re currently on a budget, then this should be something that you and your artist need to talk about.

The final pricing of a tattoo may vary though, so the best thing you can actually do here is to ask them. Bring a design if you want – Or maybe you can just describe it from memory. Plenty of shops are willing to give you a price right then and there.

Shoulder Tattoos Maintenance Tips                               

Depending on how big your tattoo is, as well as the rules given by your tattoo artist, you must leave that bandage on top of your fresh ink, from four hours to an entire day. Of course you can take off the bandage right after you arrive home, so your tattoo can instantly breathe and air-dry itself. But in case there’s still a bit of excess bleeding going on, you can lightly dab it with a paper towel so that the blood won’t collect on top of the tattoo, and the design could look nasty in the end.

While you take off the bandage, peel it very slowly and gently. And if it sticks to one part of the design, then stop – And apply a bit of cool water in between the bandage and the skin. Don’t run your tattoo beneath a running faucet. Always be gentle. Wait a couple of minutes, then begin peeling it off again.

The cool water is meant to loosen your skin from the gauze without taking away any of the pigmentation out. And keep in mind that during the aftercare process, do not pick on the scabs or pull on any skin from your new ink, since this could leave out dull or faded color gaps from the design. After the bandage has been removed, wash your tattoo gently using your fingertips. Clean it using a mild anti-bacterial soap, or some other gentle liquid soap that does not contain any skin-softeners, perfumes, or other harmful chemicals.


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