The shoulder is an ideal place for many different types of tattoos. All areas of the shoulder can be inked - front, back and side - and the tattoos can be confined to the shoulder or spread over the chest, back or arm.
This serpentine-inspired tattoo works well in this area because the shape of the tattoo mimics the curves of the shouler and upper arm.
While the back and side of the shoulder get the most ink because of their flatter planes, the front of the shoulder is also a great spot for a tattoo. Take the placement of the collar bone into consideration when planning the design and use it make the tattoo pop.
The top of the shoulder is another area that is often overlooked in shoulder tattoos. Any type of round tattoo, such as this sunflower, works well in this area because it follows the basic curves of the body.
Round tattoos work particularly well in the shoulder area if you plan on keeping them to the upper portion of the shoulder. This spider web tattoo traces concentric rings around the shoulder, emphasizing its shape.
For longer, flatter tattoos, the back of the shoulder makes the ideal spot. This tribal tattoo begins in the center of the shoulder blade and moves downwards toward the arm, following the lines of the body.
Tattoos on the shoulder can also extend slightly down the upper arm. This two-part tattoo makes use of the area on both the shoulder and the arm to give enough space for the butterfly to stretch out.
Half sleeves can also make good use of the shoulder area by beginning on the upper portion of the shoulder and allowing the design to fall naturally down the arm. This type of extension works best if it starts at the shoulder and moves down with the progression of the tattoo, rather than the other way around.
This tattoo makes use of the unique lines in the shoulder area and wraps the shoulder and upper arm with the design. Plan this type of tattoo so it can be seen from any angle for the best effect.
Consider stretching a tattoo from one shoulder to the next, also making use of the upper back. This flowering vine tattoo can stretch across the back, as well as down one or both arms while still making use of the shoulders.
The shoulder can also be a unique place to set a tattoo that would normally be seen on the back or upper arm. This leopard print tattoo wraps up and over the shoulder, calling attention to itself by its positioning.
If you have a lot of tattoos and are planning one in the shoulder area, consider stopping the new tattoo at the edge of the shoulder, allowing the ink to follow the curves of your body. This gives a natural delineation to the tattoo and separates it from any other designs.
Shoulder tattoos don't need to be small to work in this area. Consider placing a larger-than-life image in this spot, making use of the nearby skin to make a dramatic statement out of any tattoo.