Tattoos are here to stay.
So if you’re looking for some inspiration for your next small, subtle or minimalist tattoo, look no further!
Here are 30 beautiful, detailed, simple tattoos that are sure to give you some great ideas.
1. Butterflies may be a common choice when it comes to small but tasteful tattoos, but that doesn’t make them any less meaningful. Many cultures actually associate butterflies with the soul. Butterflies represent different attributes around the world but some of the most common are beauty, endurance, change and hope. These insects are also associated with metamorphosis because of the phases involved as it transforms from a caterpillar to a butterfly. As a result, butterflies are associated with growth, evolution and moving forward in life.
2. Clothes hangers became a popular tattoo for models who felt that they were literally walking clothes hangers. However, many people who aren’t models have also been drawn to this tattoo and saw different meanings behind the symbol. Whether it was a symbol to “hang on” or simply an ode to something they really love (fashion), getting a minimalist tattoo of something you’re passionate about, a career you enjoy or a reassuring message should never lose meaning to you.
3. Placement is almost as important as the tattoo itself, but if you can find a way to make both work that’s impressive. This frequent beach-goer found a clever place to put the common “beach bum” phrase. If you don’t want your tattoo to be in a place obvious to others – and would rather it only be seen on the beach – getting your tattoo on your upper thigh is a smart choice.
4. I’m not one to endorse couple tattoos, but this one is pretty cute. Getting a tattoo that only shows it’s true meaning when it’s next to your other half is a nice way to make that tattoo special to only the two of you. If you are ready to commit to a couple tattoo then it’s also a good idea to find a tattoo of something you both really enjoy, or a meaningful place or activity to you both – where you first met, perhaps? Put some deep thought into this decision, because you don’t want to end up with a tattoo to cover up later.
5. Birds are another common tattoo choice. Many people seem to relate to the meaning behind birds, which are often associated with freedom and liberty of the soul and mind. Someone who gets a bird tattoo may think of themselves as a free spirit, someone who doesn’t fear being true to themselves. The bird symbolizes this desire to be free.
6. Another tattoo choice you can never go wrong with is one dedicated to a pet. There’s probably no easier decision when it comes to tattoos than getting one close to your heart. It doesn’t have to be a life-like portrait, either. This Instagram user chose to get a tattoo dedicated to their cat, but the tattoo itself is minimalist.
7. If you’re looking for a tattoo with some color, here’s a beautiful, small tattoo that represents Africa as based on a picture given to a tattoo artist. If you’re looking for tattoo ideas and you’re interested in getting one of a place you love, this beautiful, extremely detailed interpretation of a calm and beautiful African night should give you some inspiration. The wonderful part of getting a tattoo is each tattoo artist will have a different perspective and recreate your vision in entirely new ways. Scroll to the next image to see the original picture.
8. Another common tattoo trend is to get a friendship tattoo with your closest pals. However, getting that small outline of a heart on your wrist has been done and re-done. Why not switch it up and add a little more detail to your heart tattoos? This tattoo artist added floral details to the heart, and the girls chose to put it on their forearm as opposed to their wrists.
9. If you’re a bookworm, why not get a small tattoo to show it off? From early childhood storybooks to adult fiction, if you’re constantly inspired by the ideas and worlds of various authors, why not get a tattoo that symbolizes this important aspect and favorable pastime in your life? If literature is what truly inspires you, there’s a multitude of tattoo options for book-lovers. This one is pretty straight-forward but still chic.
10. If you’re a city goer who leaves a piece of your heart in every city you visit, or maybe you moved away and miss your hometown, why not get a skyline to always remind you of a place that felt like home? People who take pride in their roots might be inclined to get a tattoo that shows everyone, proudly, where they’re from. It’s amazing how easy it is to embody the heart of a city with a few iconic buildings.
11. A lotus flower is another symbol loaded with meaning. Although a very popular tattoo choice, the decision behind getting the symbol can vary greatly between each person. The flower could represent a dedication to a Hindu or Buddhist faith. A lotus flower is also a symbol of purity, balance, humility and a reminder of the importance of inner peace.
12. There are many variations of this popular tattoo common among travelers. If you’re looking for a tattoo that represents your love of exploration, this minimalist tattoo uses a plane and it’s direction as a heart as a symbol of the importance of travelling in your life, while remaining subtle and dainty.
13. A rose is another extremely common tattoo. So common, in fact, that it may be difficult to find a way to make this tattoo different from the rest. This tattoo stands out not only because of the beautiful colors and how detailed it is, but also because the artist chose to keep the rose’s thorns. A rose with thorns symbolizes a balance of beauty, hope, and new beginnings with it’s contrasting defensiveness, loss, and thoughtlessness.
14. Anchor tattoos are old school tattoos that became a trend among sailors who worked at sea. Among sailors, anchor tattoos symbolized strength and a never say die spirit. At sea, the anchor is the most secure object in a sailor’s life, making it the perfect representation of stability, hope and trust. Today, many people opt for the anchor tattoo because it’s a reminder to stay grounded. It also holds onto its symbolism of dedication, loyalty, honor and protection.
15. A motivational tattoo, particularly a quote that you really relate to, is a great reminder of a belief, mantra or perspective that you value and wish to hold on to. The nice thing about a quote is there is still so much involved in choosing the aesthetic; from the font choice to the size of the quote to the placement, all these factors can contribute to its meaning.
16. Not all tattoos have to be serious. Some people like to choose tattoos that represent their quirkiness or vibrant personalities, and opt for cute, clever, or sweet little symbols like this tattoo of a popsicle melting. Some might choose to a punny tattoo, while others go for a more obvious laugh. Or maybe you just really, really like ice cream.
17. Feminist symbols are also becoming popular tattoos. With the word feminist finally being seen as something to be proud of, and with the likes of celebrities like Lena Dunham, Rihanna and Joan Jett who also have tattoos that illustrate their fight for gender equality, more and more women are shattering taboos with body art. This Instagram user chose the the Venus symbol, which consists of a circle with a small cross below it, to display her camaraderie with feminists. The astrological symbol for the planet Venus (associated with the goddess Venus), is a symbol for females.
18. There are several reasons why the crescent moon is such a popular tattoo today. All life on this planet is stimulated and touched by the moon. The moon serves as a life-affirming symbol of change and karma, and it’s resonated especially with those who find they prefer the dark or the night. Moons can be symbolic of mystique, growth, purity, dreams, and even femininity, among a wealth of other meanings. The moon is also all-knowing.
19. Aside from being absolutely beautiful while and giving an aura of vulnerability, a tattoo that has the appearance of a window is intriguing. What the person chooses to put within that small window is symbolic of an aspect of themselves and can give some insight into who they are or what they value. The appearance alone of having an entire image confined to a specific space is incredibly interesting. This Instagram user chose to have their circular-looking window peeking into one of their favorite locations, their cottage dock.
20. Another tattoo being seen more and more is the constellation tattoo. Some are using this magical symbol to represent their astrological signs, as every zodiac symbol has their own specific constellation. But among constellation tattoos the details will vary. This stunning version of a Capricorn constellation chose to include planets as well as stars. You don’t have to choose a constellation based on your astrological sign, either. There are 88 constellations with defined boundaries and meanings to choose from. Another meaning to the constellation tattoo is the idea that no matter where life may take you, you will always find your way back.
21. If you’re looking for a very subtle, minimal tattoo with lots of meaning another popular option is to get a single word tattooed on your body. Finding a single word that truly resonates with you can be difficult, though. This Instagram user chose a word that symbolizes her feminist position by getting the word “femme” tattooed on her thigh. Simple, yet powerful. Other popular options include the words adventure, enough, fearless, wanderlust, believe, freedom and gratitude.
22. Gerber daisies are a popular choice among all other flowers because of their association with happiness and positivity. Daisies are also associated with royalty, beauty, and growth depending on the type of daisy and its color. If you choose to leave this symbol black and white, it allows for any of these meanings to apply: innocence, purity, peace, love, youth and serenity.
23. Cherry blossoms are another flower loaded with meaning and a popular choice among flower-lovers. Cherry blossoms are symbolic of spring, renewal and the fleeting nature of life. The life of a cherry blossom is very short-lived, but during their peak time they are one of the most beautiful sights to behold. They are symbolic of the beauty and fragility of human life. The detail and colors the tattoo artist used for this tattoo do justice to the beauty of cherry blossoms.
24. Sometimes artists are able to correct previous tattoos their customers no longer resonate with. This woman got her tattoo artist to cover up a previous tattoo that spelled out “babe” followed by a heart with this more detailed image. Although it definitely takes up a larger portion of the back of her neck, the artist was still able to keep the tattoo looking subtle and dainty. A tree with visible roots is symbolic of the tree of life. The tree of life represents eternity, wisdom, growth and even forgiveness. Scroll to the next image to see what the tattoo looked like before – we promise you’ll be amazed!
25. If you really want your diamond tattoo to shine like – well, a diamond – white ink might be the way to go. Not only do white tattoos look awesome under UV lights (seriously, search it) sometimes the subtle ink has a better effect on the tattoo depending on the image. White ink is also a great alternative to black or colored ink for those wanting a tattoo but don’t want to commit to it always being seen.
26. Deer are associated with kindness and gentleness. To get a deer tattoo can be symbolic of sensitivity and intuition as well as motherly love. This Instagram user decided to combine their love for the animal with their love for the forest by creating a deer entirely made of branches. It’s small details such as these that can make your tattoo, no matter how small or minimal, truly unique. If you choose a stag (antlers) over a doe, it’s said to represent power and strength.
27. There have been many different versions of maps making their way online that have become popular tattoo options for travelers, but this Instagram user and their tattoo artist decided to make this image a little more original and create a beautiful globe instead. This tattoo is symbolic of a love for travel, different countries or even geography.
28. Probably the most popular variation, the queen bee represents strong feminine leadership. But there are also other options for a bee tattoo beyond the usual “queen bee.” A honey bee symbolizes hard work, cooperation, loyalty and courage. A hornet represents a warrior spirit and a killer bee represents endless persistence. Which bee do you relate to the most?