If you’re looking for a tattoo that’s classy, long-lasting, and easy to hide, look no further than a spine tattoo.
The spinal column is a fantastic canvas to place your design. Its centered, vertical orientation allows for great symmetrical balance and flexibility. It’s easily hidden in a professional setting and stands out wonderfully in the outdoors.
There are a ton of design themes for you to choose from. Floral, ornamental, and symbolic are just a few of the most popular ones. In this article, I’ve compiled 27 of the best ones.
Each artist is given due credit, so if you want to check out more of their work or message them directly, their names and Instagram accounts are all there.
Towards the end, I’ll also answer some FAQs and talk about the various pros and cons of getting a spine tattoo, so keep reading!
Spine Tattoos for Women
Flower Spine Tattoos
Flower tattoos are probably the most popular spine tattoo theme for women. They add a lot of class and aesthetic value and do very well to accentuate the spine using very few elements.
Since flower stems are usually oriented vertically, it makes sense to align them along the spinal column. You can even be creative with the perspective you want to take.
Some flower spine tattoos take a bird’s eye perspective that fully illustrates the flower’s petals, which is very aesthetically pleasing.
The watercolor style also adds a nice touch and is a nice alternative to the more serious approach of black-and-grey tattooing.
by Emma Skye. (@emmxskye on Instagram).
by Purtalic Tamakai Lahncey. (@purtalic on Instagram).
by Parry Wyminga Scott. (@__parryws_ on Instagram).
by Chris Swenski. (@chris_swenski_tattoo on Instagram).
by Connie Fiorino. (@connieftattoos on Instagram).
by Arché. (@archetattoo on Instagram).
By Unknown Artist.
by EWE Tattoo. (@ewetattoo on Instagram).
Ornamental Spine Tattoos
If you want to take a more abstract approach but appreciate the energy that flower spine tattoos give off, you can opt for an ornamental spine tattoo.
What makes them so appealing is how satisfying they look. Ornamental designs are characterized by symmetrical balance, elegance, and creativity. Since the spine bisects the back, it easily accommodates symmetric designs.
You can use your own ethnicity’s ornamental designs or those of an ethnicity that you like. Asian and Polynesian cultures are famous for their exquisite ornate patterns, so a lot of inspiration that can be by browsing through some of their designs.
Each pattern you see will be unique, so you don’t have to worry about finding someone with the same ornamental design as you.
by Saint And Sinner Tattoo Studio. (@saint_and_sinner_tattoo_studio on Instagram).
by Karolina Szymańska. (@karolinaszymanska_tattoo on Instagram).
by Adam Harmon. (@adamharmontattoo on Instagram).
by Quincy Catlin. (@qc.ink on Instagram).
Text Spine Tattoos
The spinal column’s extended, vertical orientation accommodates text tattoos very well. Whereas you might only fit a short sentence on your forearm or chest, the spine provides enough space for at least a full sentence and the addition of complementary illustrative elements such as flowers or symbols.
by Spooky. (@spookytat2 on Instagram).
by Harry Aranda. (@harry_aranda_tattooer on Instagram).
by Jose Orozco. (@chemoink on Instagram).
by Tara Lloyd. (@dangerlloydtattoo on Instagram).
Phases of the Moon Spine Tattoos
The Phases of the Moon design theme is one of the most popular and iconic tattoo design themes for women. And because the subject is centered on symmetry, the spine is the perfect canvas for it.
It’s a tattoo theme that represents powerful feminine energy. It’s a symbol of wisdom, intuition, reincarnation, and spiritual connection.
By AJ. (@inkedbyaj on Instagram).
By Estilo Firme Tattoo Co. (@estilofirme915 on Instagram).
Planet Spine Tattoos
The planet theme gives off similar energy to the Phases of the Moon design theme. It’s also centered on the subject of celestial bodies, which gives it a mystical quality.
It’s not as symmetrical as the Phases of the Moon design theme since the sizes of the planets in our solar system aren’t symmetrical at all.
But since they’re positioned along a central axis and roughly build size towards the middle (Jupiter), there is still some form of symmetry. If anything, the way each planet’s size and design vary gives it an asymmetrical balance, which adds a unique aesthetic touch.
by Haileii Ballas. (@haileii_tattoos on Instagram).
Symbol Spine Tattoos
The spine also accommodates groups of symbols well. Just position them along the spinal column, and you can fit in all the symbols you like.
However, it is essential to maintain some negative space. This implies giving each symbol enough room to breathe. If you stack too many symbols along your spinal column, it can look cramped and unappealing.
For some designs, however, the cramped effect is what makes them look good. If you’re worried about this, just consult your tattoo artist for a second opinion.
by Erik Portillo. (@picassocartertattoos on Instagram).
by Eric Mok. (@krazy_dali_tattoos on Instagram).
Illustrative Spine Tattoos
The best thing about the back is it’s necessarily a canvas. There’s so much space which makes it extraordinarily workable and flexible when it comes to which designs you can get.
Graphic tattoo designs are perfect to put on your spine. Positioning them along the central axis ensures symmetry, which helps to emphasize your design.
We recommend that you get creative with which designs you get for your illustrative spine tattoo.
You can try deconstructing a sketch that you like and reconstructing it to fit the vertical orientation of your spine. The vertical direction also accommodates sequences or stories, which a lot of designs have.
by Jurga Talkevičiūtė. (@jurgurgur on Instagram).
by MVNOUKJODITATTOO. (@mvnoukjoditattoo on Instagram).
By Kusto’s Lab. (@iamquantumeric on Instagram).
by Aadam. (@aadam_the_artist on Instagram).
By Unknown Artist.
by Petra Bojovski. (@fantasticna1 on Instagram).
Spine Tattoos: Pros and Cons
Before you submit your chosen design to your tattoo artist, it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of getting a spine tattoo.
- Easy to hide
One of the best things about spine tattoos is that they’re incredibly easy to hide. Since it’s easily hidden under a shirt, the tattoo is only visible when you need it to be.
And even when you work somewhere conservative, spine tattoos provide high aesthetic value without interfering with your career opportunities.
Overall, spine tattoos are ideal for people who enjoy outdoor activities, sports, and martial arts, since these activities allow you to show it off proudly.
- The back is a very workable surface.
Back tattoos are the most functional areas for tattooing. Because the back is relatively flat, your artist won’t have to struggle with having to work around bumps and bends.
There’s also more space for your artist to rest their arms on, which helps with maintaining stability. And since you’ll be resting comfortably on your stomach, your artist doesn’t have to worry about excessive movement.
- Stands out very well
The upside to tattoos, which are mostly invisible, is that they’re very pleasant surprises. Spine tattoo designs often have an elegant appearance and do great to accentuate your back. You can even use it to cover up any scars or imperfections on your spinal column.
But because it’s always hidden underneath your shirt, people you only see at work might not even be aware that you have a spine tattoo. And when you finally get a chance to interact outside of the usual professional setting, your spine tattoo will stand out well.
- Lasts forever
Some of the reasons why visible tattoos fade so fast are because they’re always exposed to sunlight. The UV frequencies in sunlight break down ink molecules, which is why tattoos on the hands and forearms tend to fade faster than others.
Your spine, on the other hand, won’t get much sunlight at all. Unless you’re a lifeguard, you can bet on your spine tattoo lasting forever.
- Heals easily
Tattoos placed on the inner biceps or between the fingers are generally challenging to heal since they’re susceptible to friction. It’s challenging to keep them from rubbing against your body, so it lengthens the duration of your tattoo’s healing process.
For the spine, however, healing isn’t very hard. You can go about your day, not having to worry much about your tattoo.
You don’t even have to consciously touch your spine, so you don’t have to worry about friction. As long as you wear a soft bra and soft clothes and apply lotion, the healing process will be easy as pie.
- Can be painful
Some people with spine problems (like bulging or herniated discs) will have a lot of trouble getting a spine tattoo, so we recommend only getting one if your doctor is okay with it.
But spine tattoos aren’t always painful. Some people claim their spine tattoo was the most comfortable tattoo experience they’ve had. It all depends on you and how you deal with pain.
In the FAQ section, we’ll talk about what contributes to the pain, and what you can do to prevent it.
Why get a spine tattoo?
Spine tattoos are perfect for people who are fond of the outdoors or have conservative career paths. They provide the same satisfaction and aesthetic value of tattoos in other locations while being extremely easily hidden.
And if you’re someone who has a spinal disease such as scoliosis or degenerative disc disease, a spine tattoo can be a fun juxtaposition with an empowering meaning.
Does getting a spine tattoo hurt?
One concern that people often have about spine tattoos is that they’re dangerous.
It isn’t ridiculous to think so, considering that damaging the spinal cord or the nerves can have some very permanent effects. Depending on how bad the hit is, consequences can range from severe neck pain to permanent paralysis.
Since tattoo machines apply ink via a rapid up-and-down motion, some people worry about the potential damage it can cause to their spine.
The thing is, there is no more danger in getting your spine tattooed than anywhere else. It could hurt more, but that depends on your body entirely.
For some people, spine tattoos can hurt so much worse than in other locations. But for a lot of people, their spine tattoos were some of their more peaceful ones.
Generally, it depends on:
- Size & complexity of the design
- Pain tolerance
- Tattoo placement
Each of these factors contributes to the intensity of pain you’ll experience while getting your tattoo. But it’s important to note that not everyone’s experience will be the same so that some factors might affect you more.
- Size & complexity of the design
Most of the spine tattoo designs that women get are stylish and simplistic—the phases of the moon, quotes, runes, flowers, etc.
If you go for a smaller and more simplistic design, you won’t need to worry too much about the pain. For a short period, your body adjusts to the pain by releasing endorphins and adrenaline to keep the pain at bay.
But some designs (mandalas, illustrative tattoos) can get pretty big and complex. And the bigger and more complex your tattoo, the more time your artist spends on it. After a while, the endorphins and adrenaline will wear off, and you’ll begin to feel the pain again.
If you have low pain tolerance, it’s a good idea to stick with small and simple designs to avoid having to deal with pain for too long.
- Tattoo placement
Where you place your tattoo is one of the most significant factors that affect the pain intensity while tattooing.
An easy way to understand why is to imagine your fat and muscle as armor. Some parts of the body, like the upper arm and thigh, are “heavily armored” while others like the wrist and ankle have almost no “armor” at all.
The spine, depending on your body fat percentage, doesn’t have a lot of fat and muscle. It’s one of the bonier parts of the body. Because of this, you can expect it to hurt more than anywhere else on your body.
Although some people do claim that their spine tattoo was one of the more open tattoo sessions they’ve had. Your mileage may vary.
For a comprehensive discussion on which body parts hurt most when getting tattooed, check out this article by Healthline on tattoo pain.
- Pain tolerance
Some people have naturally low pain tolerances. This could be caused by a skin condition, thin skin, or recent emotional trauma. Everyone has a different pain tolerance, so it’s good to know how well you fare against pain.
Here are some actionable ways to minimize your pain:
- Sleep. Lack of sleep interferes with your body’s natural healing process. (Important!)
- Stay sober. Alcohol is a blood thinner that can cause bleeding and bruising. (Important!)
- Stay hydrated. This ensures that your skin stays supple.
- Take breaks. If the pain gets too bad, feel free to ask your tattoo artist for a short break.
According to research, a person’s pain tolerance is directly affected by their experience with tattoos. This means that if you’ve had tattoos done in the past, you’ll likely feel less pain.
Are spine tattoos harder to care for?
Spine tattoos are relatively easy to heal. For one, you don’t have to touch your spine.
Aftercare for spine tattoos can be pretty tricky for women. One of the things tattoo artists recommend to accelerate healing is to avoid having anything touch your tattoo.
This doesn’t apply for spine tattoos, especially for women. For one, you can’t stop wearing clothes, and another, going braless just isn’t an option for others.
Here are some actionable ways to avoid damaging your spine tattoo:
- Wear some soft, oversized sports bras. These give your tattoo enough room to heal without damaging it and still work well enough to support your breasts. The important thing is to make sure your bra isn’t overly tight. Buy a few of them so you can rotate between each use.
- Wear soft clothes. Not wearing clothes is a very unrealistic expectation for people who get tattoos, especially when it’s the dead of winter. An excellent way to go around this while still protecting your tattoo is to wear soft clothes.
- Put on some lotion. To keep your skin beautiful and supple, it’s a good idea to put on some cream. It’ll take care of any burning, itching sensations, and keep your tattoo fresh and free from infection.
- Don’t touch it. Touching your tattoo while it’s still healing slows the healing process. When it starts scabbing, you’ll have some trouble resisting the temptation to rub it, but don’t. It’ll recover faster, and you’ll avoid infection.
Spine tattoos are great for anyone out there looking for a symbol. They take advantage of symmetrical balance and are hidden quickly enough not to interfere with your career.
Did you enjoy these spine tattoo designs, or are you looking for more inspiration? Check out the following links to see more designs from talented artists.