Home » 70 Cool Small Tattoos Design and Ideas For Men

70 Cool Small Tattoos Design and Ideas For Men

This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy we may make a commission, at no additional charge to you. Please see our disclaimer for more details.

You’ve got a physique that shows you know a thing or two about the gym. Or you have a standard body structure and are looking for your very first ink. Whatever your case, chances are a small tattoo (or small tattoos) will be a consideration you’ll never surpass. Almost every guy who has tattoos has at least one small tattoo. I mean, you can’t go big where the space is limited — think wrist, neck, behind the ear, finger, etc. But, even where there is no space restriction, like the back or chest, small tattoos — standalone or not — can make quite an impact.

If you’re the kind of man who likes a little ink or wants to add to his collection of small tattoos, you’ve landed on the right page. Not only is this article a storehouse of trending small tattoo designs, but it’s also a great place for tips and inspiration.

Table of Contents

The Rationale Behind Small Tattoos?

Small tattoos are for men who dislike the tattooing process, as well as the needle itself. You will enjoy a smaller tattoo if:

  • You have sensitive skin
  • You are a minimalist
  • You prefer smaller tattoos since they are easier to get
  • They are more affordable as well as budget-friendly
  • You dislike the process
  • You want something discreet

Small Tattoos For Men

#1. Small Tattoo on Under Arm

Small Tattoo on Under Arm
Source: @dimitri_izi via Instagram

Right next to the underarm is an unconventional body placement for a tattoo. But a small tattoo such as the lettering shown above looks splendid here. It’s the perfect spot for a personal tattoo that doesn’t have to be directed to the world.

#2. Small Flower Tattoo on Face

Small Flower Tattoo on Face
Source: @bxphane via Instagram

The small hand-poked flower is a beautiful emblem to ink at this placement. However, body art such as tattooing should always be left for very experienced professional artists to undertake, especially when done in sensitive areas like the face.

#3. Small Yin-Yang Tattoo on Forearm

Small Yin-Yang Tattoo on Forearm
Source: @hanabanaanaa via Instagram

Yin-yang tattoos originate from Chinese philosophy. Thus, designs such as the above date back to ancient times. The meaning associated with yin-yang tattoos is the unity of the opposites. The above design is simple in terms of size and technique yet significant in importance.

#4. Nature Lovers Tattoo on Back Arm Area

Nature Lovers Tattoo on Back Arm Area
Source: @paulatattooing via Instagram

If you’re a man that loves nature, small tattoos depicting natural scenes should work for you. The above back arm piece will show if you’re wearing a short-sleeved shirt. It’s subtle yet beautiful. You can see the mountains, sun, stars, all in an emblem-style composition.

#5. Moth/Skull Tattoo on Inner Forearm

MothSkull Tattoo on Inner Forearm
Source: @socks.tattoos via Instagram

Suppose the meaning transformation and metamorphosis spark enlightenment in your mind, the tattoo above should be your go-to choice. Those meanings are associated with moths and butterflies. The above moth, however, is shown along with a skull tattoo, which further implies death.

#6. Angel Wings and Halo Tattoo on Upper Thigh

Angel Wings and Halo Tattoo on Upper Thigh
Source: @arielgltattoo via Instagram

If you want a tattoo that best symbolizes the loss of a loved one, consider an angel wings design with a halo above it. That design represents your loved one has gone to heaven and is watching over you. So, you’re protected.

#7. Tattoo of Name on Chest

Tattoo of Name on Chest
Source: @flag_tattoos via Instagram

A man’s chest, especially the heart-side pectoral, is a warm, fantastic placement for the name of a loved one. However, for the best effect, the name should be small in size and centered—this way, the name is granted honorable recognition.

#8. Vespa Rider Tattoo on Forearm

Vespa Rider Tattoo on Forearm
Source: @labistattoo via Instagram

The above scooter riding helmet wearing figure is a cute, comical tattoo idea for men. If you’re looking to lighten the moods of onlookers, which is a beautiful thought, then this forearm tattoo is a perfect choice.

#9. Initial Tattooed on Inner Forearm

Initial Tattooed on Inner Forearm
Source: Via Instagram

Another trendy, small tattoo idea is the letter. It could be your first initial, a “G” for God, or any other letter that holds significance in your life. A unique, attractive font can be selected to add aesthetic glory to such simple standalone small tattoo designs.

#10. Heart Rhythm Tattoo on Bicep

Heart Rhythm Tattoo on Bicep
Source: @mac_tattoos_original via Instagram

The above small tattoo shows the heartbeat line that follows an airplane rather than a heart shape. Usually, it’s a heart and a heartbeat, but by showing an airplane, an extra dose of quirkiness is added to the overall design while retaining the original meaning. Thus, the symbolism remains love, strength, power, endurance, passion, and the talent to keep moving ahead when forces are setting you back. Also, the heartbeat symbolizes that time is passing by and running out for some of us. Act quick!

#11. Tattoo of Pug on Bicep

Tattoo of Pug on Bicep
Source: @alexandra.btattoo via Instagram

A dog tattoo, be it of a pug or any other breed, symbolizes loyalty and devotion. Dogs, much like cats, make for the most loving pets. So whether you’re a massive fan of animals or want to honor your pet dog, a small dedication, such as above, is a great ordeal.

#12. Heart and Skull Tattoo on Arm

Heart and Skull Tattoo on Arm
Source: @spanish_liquorish via Instagram

Love will continue after death. Love is stronger than death. These are the types of thoughts that make the above a solid and inspiring tattoo choice. This type of design is popular among both men and women. The solid black work serves the purpose of representing darkness or the dark end of life.

#13. Star of David Tattoo on Ankle

Star of David Tattoo on Ankle
Source: @tattoo.farid via Instagram

The above Star of David symbol is inked on the ankle bone. First off, that is a very painful spot to tattoo due to the thin skin and dense bone beneath. Second, the Star of David is a Jewish symbol indicating heroism and martyrdom. Finally, the star is composed of two overlaid equilateral triangles. As a result, onlookers get to view a striking six-pointed star.

#14. Hand Poked Tattoo on Forearm Side

Hand Poked Tattoo on Forearm Side
Source: @farcoolink via Instagram

Some designs are there just to look cool. For example, this side forearm linework tattoo is eye candy to the curious eyes.

#15. Anchor Outline Tattoo on Side of Neck

Anchor Outline Tattoo on Side of Neck
Source: @mr.jones.tattoo via Instagram

An anchor tattoo means stability, peace, strength, determination, and passion. The man’s neck side looks immaculately inked with the simple, small, and aesthetic outline anchor design.

#16. Warrior Helmet Tattoo on Neck Rear

Warrior Helmet Tattoo on Neck Rear
Source: @nanaacostattoo via Instagram

The armor (helmet included) signifies a warrior’s determination, strength, courage, and heroism. The grey shading work behind the neck ( upper back center) makes the armor look mind-blowingly awesome!

#17. Small Tattoo of Palm Tree

Small Tattoo of Palm Tree
Source: @babyysnails via Instagram

The palm tree (meaning “paradise”), the beaver (representing “diligence” and “skill”), and the koala (representing “kindness,” “calmness,” and “motherhood”) are all positive connotations. Thus, this is a beautiful, meaningful, and incredible tattoo to get.

#18. Lettering Tattoo Near Shoulder

Lettering Tattoo Near Shoulder
Source: @goldencobratattooclub via Instagram

Lettering or a symbol tactfully situated on an unoccupied surface area of your body can look astonishing if done right. For example, Chinese scripture is depicted on the top right, near the shoulder in the above image. It stands out due to the unoccupied spaces near and far. This type of tattoo brings about all the focus and attention you desire for your particular word, lettering, or symbol tattoo.

#19. Little Betty Boop Tattoo on Abdomen Side

Little Betty Boop Tattoo on Abdomen Side
Source: @edmadis_art via Instagram

Betty Boop is a character associated with many cartoons, movies, and comic books. It is related to a woman’s sexuality. In plain words, it is a sex symbol! Many men also get this design inked on their bodies. In the above image, Betty Boop is inked on the man’s abdomen side.

#20. I love U Signal Tattoo On Shoulder

I love U Signal Tattoo On Shoulder
Source: @sonkriwal_kunal via Instagram

A simple, small tattoo of the “I love u” hand signal can look great if inked on a wide empty space. The above outlined version is inexpensive, quick, and attractive.

#21. Tiny Swastika Tattoo on Collarbone

Tiny Swastika Tattoo on Collarbone
Source: @artist_laadi via Instagram

The Sanskrit word “swastika” is shown in its symbol form above. Its Romanised version means “conducive to well-being.” Since it’s a right-facing Swastika symbol, as per Hinduism, it means sun, prosperity, and good luck.

#22. Mini Cross Tattoo on Wrist Side

Mini Cross Tattoo on Wrist Side
Source: @lena.tattoo via Instagram

If you’re a firm believer in God, heaven, or Christianity, the cross tattoo will suit you in each case. The above minimalistic version looks cute and meaningful inked at the side of the man’s wrist. Unfortunately, that’s a bony region of your body, which means the dense bone has thin skin over it, which also means a painful spot to tattoo. No worries. No pain, no gain. In this case, the gain is the excellent outcome you see above.

#23. Colorful Crown Tattoo on Hand

Colorful Crown Tattoo on Hand
Source: @34inkredibletattoo via Instagram

Small tattoos that are colored can look super vivid and cute. The crown tattoo shown above is inked on the top of the man’s hand. Its symbolism stands as a constant reminder to the wearer that he is a powerful man. Strength, glory, triumph, and self-control are other meanings associated with a crown symbol.

#24. Small Star Tattoos Across Neck & Shoulder

Small Star Tattoos Across Neck & Shoulder
Source: @myart_carmen via Instagram

Honor, hope, desire, intuition, and guidance are just some of the many positive and aspirational meanings associated with star tattoos. If you are ambitious and want to succeed in life, your stars’ tattoos will not fail you in your quest.

#25. Minimalistic Knife Tattoo on Wrist Side

Minimalistic Knife Tattoo on Wrist Side
Source: @fanfan__s via Instagram

A tiny knife tattooed horizontally along the side of the wrist can be quite an eye-catchy symbol. However, it’s not the size, rather the meaning behind the knife that makes it appealing. That said, the symbolism behind a basic knife tattoo includes liberation, death, severance, division, and sacrifice. In the Christian faith, a knife symbolizes martyrdom, while in Buddhist belief, it symbolizes cutting the bonds of ignorance.

#26. Beetle Tattoo Above Ankle

Beetle Tattoo Above Ankle
Source: @adward_poliak via Instagram

Beetle tattoos hold some significant meanings. These include the traits of a beetle: strength, divinity, nobility, love, luck, organization, prosperity, creation, abundance, and immortality. The beetle also looks quite pretty with its beautiful black dots over a red surface.

#27. Neck Side Roman Numerals & Cross Tattoo

Neck Side Roman Numerals & Cross Tattoo
Source: @room26_reutlingen via Instagram

The back of the ear, along the upper neck, is a strategic body location for inking small, intricate tattoos vertically. Above, you can see the roman numerals inked in a subtle black ink, vertically along the neck side, next to a minimalistic cross sign by the gentleman’s ear.

#28. Eye Tattoo on Forearm

Eye Tattoo on Forearm
Source: @silviankocciati via Instagram

God is watching over humankind! That’s right! That’s what the eye tattooed on the skin was always about. You can have this wonderful symbol inked almost anywhere on your body. The forearm, where you can always see it yourself, is one of the most popular locations.

#29. Triangle Weave Circle Tattoo

Triangle Weave Circle Tattoo
Source: @finek_one via Instagram

The circle weaved triangle tattoo is an abstract, geometrical tattoo that many love to get. Negative space is used tactfully to ensure none of the overlapping areas touches. It’s a small, simple, and fantastic tattoo to get.

#30. Free Hand Facial Abstract Tattoo

Free Hand Facial Abstract Tattoo
Source: @force___tranquille via Instagram

Here’s lookin’ at you, kid! This very minimalistic tattoo of two eyes and the nose line is struggling to depict a face. Although incomplete, the tattoo wins over your hearts due to what it leaves for onlookers’ imagination. Five minutes at most. That’s how much time such a tattoo may take to ink. But, it’s the beauty and amazement of hand-poked tattoos that yield such incredible outcomes.

#31. Multiple Symbols Tattoo Near Elbow

Multiple Symbols Tattoo Near Elbow
Source: @ededdeddietattoos via Instagram

That upside-down triangle with a line through it that you’ve spotted below the man’s elbow above is the symbol of Earth. It is one of the classical elements in alchemy. There are four such elements, to be exact. The rituals in which Earth is used have to do with drawing attention to motherhood, life, growth, nature, and femininity.

#32. Small Chemistry Tattoo on Chest

Small Chemistry Tattoo on Chest
Source: @archzinecom via Instagram

If you thought such cute, tweeny tattoos are meant for girls and women only, think again! The fine, black linework chemistry tattoo looks incredible on the man’s pectoral.

#33. Tiny Dragon Outline Tattoo

Tiny Dragon Outline Tattoo
Source: @ededdeddietattoos via Instagram

A tiny dragon can look as powerful as a big, bold, and detailed one. The wrist is a small surface area to begin working with. Thus, if you want a dragon there, it ought to be small. However, it looks super cool, as seen above.

#34. Simple Butterfly Tattoo

Simple Butterfly Tattoo
Source: @fayeotattoos via Instagram

Who says a butterfly is only a woman’s best tattoo element? Yet, a growing population of male tattoo enthusiasts opts for this beautiful, magical, and astounding flying beauty for their body art.

#35. Sun Tattoo

Sun Tattoo
Source: @theena.ink via Instagram

Among geometric-shaped tattoos, those with circular shapes are trending. The sun is an example. So if you want a quick tattoo that’s inexpensive yet meaningful, get a sun like shown above.

#36. Small Black Coffin Tattoo

Small Black Coffin Tattoo
Source: @tattookacie via Instagram

The black coffin tattoo shown above may be tiny, but it’s sure to give goosebumps to anybody that spots it. A coffin tattoo is symbolic of the wearer’s preparation for natural death, so if you’re brave, unafraid of what comes your way, and bold enough to test all types of waters (life’s challenges, that is), then this tattoo can serve the perfect reminder to you.

#37. Small Pink Rose Tattoo on Forearm

Small Pink Rose Tattoo on Forearm
Source: @tbtattoostudio via Instagram

The rose has a thorny stem, but at the same time, it has the most beautiful flower blooming on top. It comes in various colors, pink being among the most popular. This flower symbolizes love and balance. It is adorned equally among both men and women nowadays.

#38. Globe Tattoo on Ribs

Globe Tattoo on Ribs
Source: @goldencobratattooclub via Instagram

The globe is our home. We must protect it. We must respect it. There are no boundaries if we love and respect each other. Hence, getting a globe design tattooed on yourself is a beautiful way of honoring this wonderful planet we must preserve and protect.

#39. “Think Positive” Quote Tattoo Along Bicep

“Think Positive” Quote Tattoo Along Bicep
Source: @smallglobaltattoos via Instagram

Pick any quote and get it inked on your arm, just below the half sleeve line. It will serve as an inspiration to you and others. For example, in the above image, that quote is “think positive.” Aren’t you already thinking that way!

#40. Flying Bird Tattoo on Ribs

Flying Bird Tattoo on Ribs
Source: @rosiem_tattooer via Instagram

Birds represent freedom, strength, and eternity. Why not get one inked along your ribcage.

#41. Minimalistic Black Anchor on Ankle

Minimalistic Black Anchor on Ankle
Source: @helena_c_90 via Instagram

The anchor symbol is one of the most iconic and popular tattoo ideas. It can be large, small, or tiny. It can be placed on your pectoral, forearm, leg, or, as shown above, next to the ankle.

#42. Triangle in Triangle Tattoo on Side of Hand

Triangle in Triangle Tattoo on Side of Hand
Source: @ap_tattooz via Instagram

A triangle in triangle tattoo is associated with the number three. In many cultures, the symbolism is balance and wisdom. It’s a beautiful tattoo to have where it’s always visible to the wearer so that the wearer can be reminded of it’s beautiful and inspiring meaning.

#43. Small Knife on Thigh

Small Knife on Thigh
Source: @tropic__cosmos via Instagram

Here’s another small knife tattoo. This time it’s along the man’s thigh. It looks rather macho here.

#44. Gun Tattoo on Side of Neck

Gun Tattoo on Side of Neck
Source: @thequietgame99 via Instagram

A gun tattooed vertically along the neck side is a unique idea. In the above image, the gun is a rifle with incredible detail. The whole thing is inked in shades of black and grey, but it looks astonishing. Here’s another small knife tattoo. This time it’s along the man’s thigh. It seems rather macho here.

#45. Year Tattoo on Upper Arm

Year Tattoo on Upper Arm
Source: @thetatplug via Instagram

A year or date tattoo is unique as much as it is simple and easy to comprehend. You may use your favorite font and choose your birth year or another year significant in your life.

#46. Map Tattoo on Upper Arm

Map Tattoo on Upper Arm
Source: @louis_3193 via Instagram

If you’ve got a good surface area along your upper arms, the map tattoo can do you justice. If you’ve got the whole wide world inked on the back of your arm, it can symbolize acceptance, power, and a feeling of unity.

#47. Cute Baby Elephant Tattoo on Calf

Cute Baby Elephant Tattoo on Calf
Source: @tattoos_byruben via Instagram

Who says men don’t adore tweeny cuteness? The above baby elephant tattoo is super cute and can be placed in a range of body placements, including the calf, as shown above. The color adds glitz and uniqueness to the design.

#48. Star Wars Tattoo on Ankle Region

Star Wars Tattoo on Ankle Region
Source: @xy_studio_ via Instagram

As seen above, R2-D2 or any other of your favorite classic star wars characters can make for fantastic tattoo design options.

#49. Ocean Wave Tattoo on Arm

Ocean Wave Tattoo on Arm
Source: @ishu_ink_tattoo via Instagram

The meaning of wave tattoos is usually emotion, nature, and the soul, etc. If you want a tattoo associated with such peaceful traits, go for a wave, ocean-type tattoo.

#50. Cute Turtle Tattoo on Inner Forearm

Cute Turtle Tattoo on Inner Forearm
Source: @emeraldtattoolodi via Instagram

Isn’t that a super cute turtle tattoo? It doesn’t matter if you’re a man. You can be brave enough to get one of these cuteness symbols on your forearm or elsewhere.

#51. Phrase Tattoo on Pectoral

Phrase Tattoo on Pectoral
Source: @sonyaredstattoos via Instagram

There’s beauty in every struggle, and there’s even more beauty in the above tattoo. It rests above the heart (left pectoral) for a purpose. Your life’s struggles and efforts are heart induced, and that’s what makes your struggles worth every pain. That’s beautiful!

#52. Small Tattoo of Shoe on Lower Leg

Small Tattoo of Shoe on Lower Leg
Source: @hubavistaink via Instagram

If you’re the sportsman in your household, why not go for a small tattoo such as the above?

#53. Michael Jordan Tattoo

Michael Jordan Tattoo
Source: @cultura_i_colores via Instagram

Globally renowned talent such as Michael Jordan is the type of legend that will live on forever. The MJ symbol above is a wonderful tattoo to get if you love the man for his larger-than-life achievements and, of course, your love for the sport of basketball.

#54. Ornamental Tattoo Along Neck

Ornamental Tattoo Along Neck
Source: @kaptaan_tattoo via Instagram

The side of the neck is a great place to get a small tattoo that you’d want the world to see. In the above case, the rhythmic symbol inked in black is small yet stylish.

#55. Butterfly Tattoo on Ribs

Butterfly Tattoo on Ribs
Source: @localcolortattoo via Instagram

Small, black tattoos look great on every skin tone. When you choose a symbol as beautiful as the butterfly, you can’t go wrong. The ribs are one of the most special placements for men’s tattoos.

Other Cool, Small Tattoos for Men for Your Inspiration

#56. Small Animated Doggy Outline Tattoo on Knee

Small Animated Doggy Outline Tattoo on Knee
Source: @bin_tattoo_ via Instagram

#57. Black & White Compass Tattoo

Black & White Compass Tattoo
Source: @wolf_pack_studio via Instagram

#58. Black Crown Tattoo on Middle Finger

Black Crown Tattoo on Middle Finger
Source: @34inkredibletattoo via Instagram

#59. Black and Grey Rose Tattoo Behind Ear

Black and Grey Rose Tattoo Behind Ear
Source: @inkedin_glasgow via Instagram

#60. Intricate Shaded Crown Tattoo Along Inner Wrist

Intricate Shaded Crown Tattoo Along Inner Wrist
Source: @piston__life via Instagram

#61. Treble Clef Tattoo on Neck

Treble Clef Tattoo on Neck
Source: @besalutattoo via Instagram

#62. Colorful Abstract Bird Tattoo Near Wrist

Colorful Abstract Bird Tattoo Near Wrist
Source: @cameronhobbs_art via Instagram

#63. Palm Tree Tattoo on Outer Side of Finger

Palm Tree Tattoo on Outer Side of Finger
Source: @menstattoostyles via Instagram

#64. Solid Black Anchor Tattoo

Solid Black Anchor Tattoo
Source: @tatuajes_hm via Instagram

#65. Small Tattoo of Book Stack

Small Tattoo of Book Stack
Source: @daniel.dias.tattoo via Instagram

#66. Heart Beat Tattoo Along Inner Wrist

Heart Beat Tattoo Along Inner Wrist
Source: @stygiantattoo95 via Instagram

#67. Assortment of Small Tattoos Across Body

Assortment of Small Tattoos Across Body
Source: @directorfits via Instagram

#68. Scorpion Tattoo on Abdomen

Scorpion Tattoo on Abdomen
Source: @ames.tattoo via Instagram

#69. Sun and Hand Tattoo

Sun and Hand Tattoo
Source: @pieris_tattoo via Instagram

#70. Two Hands Almost Touching Tattoo

Two Hands Almost Touching Tattoo
Source: @alexandra.btattoo via Instagram

FAQ’s

Q1. What placements options do guys have for small tattoos?

Ans. Men can get small tattoos almost anywhere. However, the most common places are the arms, wrist, ankle, forearm, hand, foot, neck, face, and rib.

Q2. What are the most popular small tattoos for men?

Ans. The tattoos shown in the above list are among the trending hot tattoos you’ll find enthusiasts talking about in the online world. The most popular among the lot is the variety featuring shapes, compass, spiritual/religious symbolism, tribal, skull, phoenix, dragon, lion, wolf, flower, and crown designs.

Q3. Are small tattoos painful?

Ans. The smaller the tattoo, the less time to ink it. Therefore, smaller tattoos are less painful. However, they can be painful if they are inked over bony or in thin skin areas. So, it’s fair to say that the pain level can’t be dependent solely on the size; the placement plays an equal part. If your pain threshold is low, you should avoid getting tattoos, small or large, on the following placements:

1. Ribs
2. Head
3. Face
4. Neck
5. Collar bones
6. Ankle
7. Knee
8. Armpit
9. Elbow
10. Wrist

Conclusion

Did any of the above small tattoos inspire you to get your next ink? Of course, everybody gets at least one small tattoo, especially if they’re just starting in the world of tattoos. The thing to keep in mind is, always get your body art done by a seasoned professional. Someone who has the experience under their belt to use the needle efficiently. Yielding the best outcome. Someone who will take you through the process smoothly. Paying adequate attention to the guidance, you’ll need from them about the tattoo aftercare, etc.

About Author

Jonathan Corby "Jonny" is a guy who is passionate about Tattooing and successfully running a Tattoo Studio in NY. Through my journey as a Tattoo Artist I have made unforgettable memories. This irrational poetry and sense of freedom of art on skin has given a blissfull experience to my life. Each Tattoo has a story behind it; Lets share one!

Our Curated List of The Best Amazon Black Friday Deals for Tattoo Lovers