Tattoo Sizes: Choosing a Size Best for You

Tattoo Sizes: Choosing a Size Best for You

Dec 07, 2022 | Bridget Reed

You’re going to have your tattoo forever, and there are a lot of things you need to think carefully about. First, you need to make sure you’re going to love the idea forever. Then you have to decide how you want to execute that idea. 

Where do you want to put your tattoo, and how big should it be?

Bigger isn’t always better, and smaller isn’t always the best idea. It all depends on the situation. Before you commit, think about what you want to do. Your tattoo artist might be able to give you a few helpful ideas. Keep an open mind before you commit to a size.

Size Is Important (but Not for the Reasons You Think)

When most people think about the size of a tattoo, they’re considering how noticeable they want their tattoo to be and the aesthetic of the tattoo itself. Small tattoos have a dainty, elegant aesthetic. They’re also less noticeable. 

Big tattoos make a statement, and the goal is to put them on display. These are important considerations but aren’t the top two considerations you need to make.

The size of your tattoo will impact how it looks and how it ages. The detail doesn’t tend to hold up well on small tattoos. It’s very hard to translate a lot of complicated nuances into a really tiny space. 

Over time, it may heal to look like a muddied mess. You might wind up with a splotchy blob of colors or gray lines instead of a piece of intricate art.

Making a tattoo too big might not work out the way you want it to. Think about a tattoo of a single daisy. It doesn’t need to be that big to get the point across. 

If you stretch it out enough to fill your whole bicep, you’ll wind up with big swaths of monotone color with very little detail. It’s going to look weird if you try to fill a large area with something that could have very easily been a much smaller tattoo. 

Start With Your Idea

Tattoo Sizes: Choosing a Size Best for You

You should never decide that you want to get a tattoo and then decide what you want later. That’s a recipe for tattoo regret. Start with your idea.

It’s important to know what you want your tattoo to be before you start debating tattoo sizes and placement. When you have a solid idea, playing with different sizes or design concepts is easier. Some designs may need to be scaled up, and others may need to be scaled down.

It also helps to have a few artists in mind before you start. Once you understand how an artist approaches detail in their work, it’s easier to figure out how big (or small) the tattoo will have to be. 

Different artists may suggest different sizes depending on their personal styles, and it’s always the right choice to let an artist stick with what they do best.

What Tattoo Are You Getting?

If you want an elaborate design, plan to get a bigger tattoo. Your tattoo artist will be able to help you strategize sizing and placement for large tattoos. 

Your artist knows how much space they’re going to need to make the details of your tattoo clear. You have two options if they tell you that the tattoo needs to be much bigger than you initially anticipated. You can either listen to your tattoo artist and scale up the design or simplify your idea into one that will translate better into a smaller tattoo.

If you’re getting a simple black ink tattoo (like a linework flower), you don’t want to scale it to a massive size. If it’s small, it will be clear that the design was approached from a minimalist perspective. 

If it’s big, it will look like you got a tattoo outline but never returned to get it colored in. You’ll know it looks how it’s supposed to look, but everyone else might perceive it as an eternally unfinished tattoo.

Where Are You Getting Your Tattoo?

Size is relative to placement. It’s impossible to get a giant tattoo on your finger. A tiny tattoo in the center of your bicep might look weird. It can help to fit the tattoo appropriately into the space it’s in. If you have other tattoos or intend to get more, you may want to account for that. 

Many people think they will get one small tattoo, and one small one turns into five tattoos of various sizes. If you don’t already have a collection started, consider that you may want more later. This means sizing your tattoo appropriately and putting it where you can work around it.

It’s smart to put your first tattoo on your wrist or ankle, especially if it’s small. This leaves room for bigger pieces on your arms and legs if you return for more. 

Let it occupy an entire space if you’re getting a bigger tattoo. Place it on your forearm, bicep, or shin.

Remember: You Can Go for Multiple Sessions

You’re probably thinking about how long it will take to finish a tattoo. Smaller tattoos are usually over quickly. Larger tattoos are going to take a while. 

That doesn’t mean you must finish them all on the same day. Artists usually start with the outline for larger tattoos and allow it to heal before working with color. You can keep sessions shorter and return for multiple visits.

HUSH Minimizes Pain for Tattoos of All Sizes

Tattoo Sizes: Choosing a Size Best for You

Many people opt for smaller tattoos because tattoos hurt. It’s not as big of an ordeal to get a tattoo for 30 minutes. The idea of getting tattooed for two or three hours can be overwhelming. When something hurts, you don’t want it to last longer than it needs to (unless you do, in which case, rock on).

Don’t let your reservations about pain stop you from getting the tattoo you really want. HUSH Anesthetic numbing cream can numb your skin for up to 90 minutes. Numbing cream can minimize the pain of a tattoo; lidocaine reduces your skin’s ability to send pain signals to your brain, so you’ll only feel minor discomfort. 

Don’t go smaller than you want to just because you’re not keen on the pain that comes with a long session. Choose the tattoo size you want. Just numb it up beforehand.


How tattoos 'move' with age | Phys Org

A Highlight on Reasons for Tattoo Regrets and Removal | Medical Lasers Journal

A review of the mechanism of the central analgesic effect of lidocaine | National Library of Medicine

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