Picking a Shoulder Tattoo Design

First sitting - outline
First sitting - outline

When getting a tattoo, you should keep in mind the shape of the area that it's going to be placed on. If you're going to get a tattoo on your shoulder, consider its shape: curved, round. The tattoo you get should fit or "mold" to the shape of the body part it's going on, so I would stick with something curved or round. Any good tattoo artist should be able to explain this to you, and should recommend something appropriate.

Also consider the size of the tattoo: The bigger the design, the more detail can be included. However, if your shoulder tattoo extends up onto the neck or down the arm, you will also have to make sure that the design's shape "fits" with those body parts, as well. The tattoo artist that we visit frequently pointed this out when my husband got his shoulder tattoo a few months ago.

My husband wanted something on his shoulder that extended slightly down his arm, but not a full sleeve or even a half sleeve. The artist custom-designed a three-dimensional geometric design for my husband that started on the shoulder, curling and flaring upwards, but that also traveled down his arm to "mold" to his bicep. The tattoo artist made sure that the design traced along the contours of his muscle and came to a "v" at the end of his bicep, which is the natural shape of the end of the muscle. Had my husband wanted the design to be any bigger or go further around the inside of his arm, it would have to have traveled further down his arm to match the muscle. The end of his bicep made a nice, natural stopping point for the design. Otherwise, the design would have appeared "flat" and out of place on a naturally curving part of the body.

Will it hurt to get a tattoo on your shoulder? I can't answer that. Everybody's different. I have 4 tattoos (ankle, back, and the top of my foot) and I don't think any of them hurt. However, I know people that have gotten tattoos in the same places and have said they hurt like crazy. Everybody's different, so like I said - I can't answer that question.

Second sitting - shading  (Total time = approximately 5 hrs.)
Second sitting - shading (Total time = approximately 5 hrs.)

As far as designs go, there's no limit to what art you can have added to your body. My advice is to find a place that does custom work, not "flash" tattoos that you pick off a chart on the wall. Have some ideas in mind - do you want a portrait? Lettering? Tribal? Traditional Japanese? Color? Black? Don't listen to what anybody else says or what other people like or don't like. Some people don't like color tattoos, some love color. Some people don't like tribal, others do. Who cares what somebody else says? The tattoo is going on YOUR BODY, so pick something that YOU like.

Show the artist some pictures of what you like and what you don't like. See if they can incorporate different design aspects into one tattoo. They may be able to draw something for you to check out - then you can make changes as needed. Be sure to talk to the artist beforehand about the design, the size, the location, the amount of time it will take, and the cost. And whatever tattoo you get - make sure it's something that YOU really want.

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