Tattoo Placement

Where you place your tattoo is more important than you think

Sierra French, Reporter

       One of the most important things to consider when getting a tattoo is placement, and it can be the difference between a beautiful tattoo and a tacky tattoo. Not only does tattoo placement affect the message of a piece, it also affects the way the work ages. High traffic areas of the body often quickly fade, and this can cause your tattoo to look less than perfect after just a few months. Placement also plays a significant role in the pain of a tattoo, and can impact the lengths of a tattoo session.  



     One thing to consider when placing a tattoo is how the piece will age, or look overtime. Certain areas of the body age better than others, and some are almost impossible to maintain without continuous touch-ups, and even then tend to fade in time. Sun exposure plays a significant role in the way a tattoo ages, and lifestyle should be considered when deciding where to put a tattoo. Someone who often spends time at the beach should not get a tattoo in a place that often is exposed to sunlight, this not only leads to blowouts in the line work, but fading of the entire piece. 

      Places that age poorly include palms, feet, and stomach. Hand tattoos, specifically palm tattoos, are constantly being used and such traction will cause the tattoo to fade quickly, and blowouts in the line work will be inevitable. Similarly to hand tattoos, feet tattoos are constantly being rubbed and bumped, and consequently, tends to fade quickly. Stomach tattoos are tricky, especially for women. As one’s weight fluctuates, their skin stretches. Such stretching of the skin also stretches the ink in a tattoo, causing the tattoo to fade and often distorts the image. For women, this is even more of a concern due to potential pregnancy, which stretches the skin rather quickly, and significantly distorts a tattoo. 


     Different parts of the body hurt more than others when getting a tattoo, and this often influences people’s decision as to where to put a piece. Typically, placement that is “on the bone”, such as rib tattoos, are very painful. Places on the body with thin or sensitive skin also tend to hurt worse, such as the inner wrist. The pain of a tattoo can also depend on a person’s body, for example, getting a tattoo over scar tissue is agonizingly painful, regardless of where it is on the body. As an individual’s planning to get a tattoo, knowing your own body is crucial when picking tattoo placement, and is everything when deciding to get a tattoo.

     The pain of a tattoo tends to affect how long it takes to get a tattoo finished. Most small pieces only take one session, but due to fatigue, tattoos in painful spots of the body often take more, and can influence the price of your ink. Generally, someone should plan a tattoo around their own pain tolerance,  this ensures optimal comfort while being tattooed. Also, a person should inform their artist of their pain threshold prior to getting tattooed in order to guarantee quality work. Often, more painful tattoos result in multiple tattoo sessions, and this can be spread out over days or weeks depending on the piece and the opinion of the artist.


      Placement of a tattoo can influence the way others perceive the work due to the social  associations assigned to certain parts of the body.  Although for some, this does not affect their decisions regarding placement, for others it can be the difference between a tattoo they love, and one they regret. For example, lower back tattoos, commonly referred to as “tramp stamps”, are associated with promiscuity. This stereotype, typically aimed primarily towards women, often causes women to steer clear of lower back tattoos, and pick other places of the body such as the lower neck and the ribcage for works that are intended for the lower back.

      Tattoos in other more obvious places, such as face tattoos, also come with a negative stereotype. Generally, face tattoos are discouraged by most artists due to not only the message, but they are often not taken seriously by the public, an artist wants their work to be admired and respected, rather than the focus of ridicule.  



     Your lifestyle, as well as your profession, should be considered when determining tattoo placement. Tattoos on visible places of the body, such as the forearm, although trendy, tend to be difficult to hide. If you have a professional career, visible tattoo placement is often a poor idea, and the piece often becomes a burden as it has to be hidden. Carefully considering how a tattoo will fit into an individual’s professional life is imperative when determining placement, and can determine how someone feels about their tattoo for the rest of their life. Generally, it is  advisable to pick less visible areas of the body for larger pieces, and save smaller pieces for areas more often seen. 

     An individual’s leisure time can also affect the placement that will fit best for certain pieces. Tattoos often fade when exposed to sunlight, and repeated exposure can even ruin a tattoo, especially if the tattoo is not entirely healed. If someone often is outside with their skin exposed, typically visible tattoos are a poor decision due to the likelihood they will fade. Even when SPF is used, sunlight is one of the worst things for a tattoo.