Shoulder Tattoos

Jennifer Betts
Tattoo on shoulder

Shoulder tattoos are fast becoming some of the most popular pieces of skin art. This wide, flat area provides plenty of canvas for an intricate design that can be shown off or covered at will.

Locations for Shoulder Tattoos

Tattoo on ball of shoulder

There are actually several different places on the body that are called the shoulder in every day usage. The shoulder is actually the spot on the human body where the arm attaches to the torso. While there is a great deal of real estate there, shoulder tattoos are typically placed on:

  • The flat area on the upper back just over the scapula - commonly known as the "shoulder blade"
  • The front of the shoulder above the chest and the round shoulder joint
  • Along the top line of the shoulder that runs from the neck to the round shoulder joint or the "top of the shoulder"

Shoulder Tattoo Design Ideas

Many different themes work well in this area. Nautical themes, such as nautical stars, anchors and swallows, are all popular choices for shoulder tattoos. The shoulder is also seen as a good spot for memorial tattoos. This place is wide and flat enough to hold an image of a person's face, or something related to the deceased, as well as memorial dates.

Women tend to use this spot for images like flowers, kanji, celestial themes and more exotic pictures. The shoulder is often hidden, so many people feel they can be a bit more adventurous with this area.

Shoulder Blade Tattoo Ideas

The shoulder blade can handle a lot of versatile images because of its flat surface.

Some popular designs for the shoulder blade include:

Flames
  • Crosses
  • Angels
  • Flames
  • Wings
  • Fairies
  • Suns
  • Moons
  • Flowers blooming from the shoulder
  • Butterflies or other insects that appear to have "landed" on the shoulder
  • Complementary or opposite words or phrases (one on each shoulder)
  • Favorite verses, song lyrics, or quotes
  • Zodiac signs
  • Animal designs that spans over the shoulder, such as a crouching lion or tiger

Front of the Shoulder Ideas

Shoulder tattoo

The round portion of the shoulder may not get as much ink as the blade, but it is ideal for several different images that you want to see come alive in a three dimensional fashion.

These ideas work great on the ball of the shoulder:

  • Flowers/blossoms
  • Spider webs
  • Celtic knots
  • Circular tribal tats
  • Animal faces (like a tiger or lion)
  • Geometric designs, especially those that render a 3-D effect
  • Dreamcatcher
  • Human face

These designs work great on the front of the shoulder above the chest, leading into the collar bone:

  • Birds flying from the shoulder along the collar bone
  • Sparrows and other Old School tats
  • Butterflies flying from the shoulder along the collar bone
  • Dandelion seeds blowing

Top of the Shoulder Ideas

top of shoulder tattoo

While the top of the shoulder is a tight space, there are several ideas that can fit along the line running from the neck to the round part of the shoulder.

  • Tribal work that follows the line of the shoulder
  • Short quotes or words
  • Flowering vines/plants

The Versatility of a Shoulder Tat

Shoulder tats are popular among both men and women. While not an extremely visible spot as tattoo canvas goes, many people choose to adorn them. Tattoos that are placed in this area can range from very small in size to quite large. Back pieces may even extend onto the shoulder area.

People sometimes choose to get tattoos in the shoulder area as a place of prominence above other areas. If you already have a back piece done, consider getting a smaller, related tattoo completed on your shoulder. Women seem to like this area for a tattoo because it adds a bit of spice to a sexy area, but is not visible on most occasions.

Special Care of Shoulder Ink

Lotus tattoo on shoulder

The shoulder is a high movement area, meaning this area does take a bit longer to heal. Where a normal tattoo might take 2-3 weeks, this area can take up to 4 weeks. To help the healing process in this area, you will want to wear loose clothing and materials that are soft and won't irritate the area.

You will have to take special care not to irritate or rub the raw area while your tattoo is healing. Women might want to consider going braless if possible or wearing a sports bra for the first week to minimize rubbing. Additionally, ensure you stay clear from materials that may stick to the tattoo or cause you to sweat, like latex or leather. If you do happen to have material stick to your tattoo, don't try to peel it off, as this might hurt the inked design. Instead wet a cloth and gently wet the area until the material peels away easily.

Tattoos on the shoulder can also receive a large amount of sun when exposed due to their position on the body. Be sure to always use a heavy sunblock on your tattoos - one with at least SPF 30 - to make sure they keep their color and beauty.

Shoulder Tats and Pain

Like every tattoo, there will be some pain involved in getting your shoulder tattooed. According to some tattoo artists, women often report that the shoulder is one of the least painful places to get tattooed. However, everyone has a different pain threshold, so the amount of pain felt when tattooing this area will vary from person to person.

Consider a Shoulder Tattoo

Give some thought into what design best expresses your personality and how it will sit on the framework of your shoulder. Whether small or large, no tattoo can look out of place on this highly visible and versatile area, so consider the shoulder area as a prime location for your next tat.

Shoulder Tattoos