Tiny tattoos have been trending for a while now, with delicate designs popping up on plenty of tattoo collectors as well as celebrities like Halsey, Rihanna and Solange. And as with any trend—especially in the world of tattoo—it’s constantly being iterated on, with tiny designs showing up fresh as ear tattoos.
One could argue that ear tattoos are a logical extension of jewelry, as well—it’s one of the most popular and often first spots people get pierced. So if you’re craving a new pair of earrings, you could purchase yourself some on the fly—or you could get an amazing new permanent piece in the form of ear tattoos. (And, not that we’re biased, but good line work is more appealing to us than gold hoops.) Below, check out 11 of the coolest designs that are part subtle, part statement, and 100 percent cool.
1. This open-ended flower
You’ll notice throughout this gallery that nature is one of the most popular subjects of ear tattoos. And a cute, minimalist design like this flower by UK-based artist Aimee Wardman is one of our favorite takes. By tattooing the flower shape along the top of the ear and leaving it open-ended, Wardman creates the illusion that the design is an extension of its wearer’s ear.
2. This sprig of lavender
Ears are also a great place for more delicate tattoos, like this herbal one. The stem on this fine line design perfectly follows the curve of the ear —which means anything that incorporates a stem or linework is also a great option for that placement.
3. This super-simple linework
Simple linework is a growing tattoo trend that looks especially amazing on the ear. With clean lines that wrap around the tops of your ears like this, you don’t even need to think about earrings, TBH. Maybe it’s time to replace your rook and helix piercings with some ink, you know?!
4. This mini crescent moon
This placement—the part of your ear where you’d get a tragus piercing—is one of our favorite locations for an ear tattoo. Done by @wittybutton_tattoo, an Insta-famous artist based in Seoul, South Korea, who’s known for their sweet, dainty designs, this little crescent moon perfectly frames that part of the ear. Plus, there’s one more good reason for getting a tattoo instead of a tragus piercing: The spot easily gets infected, so a permanent design may be your best bet for some added decoration over here.
5. This rainbow redux
We love the subtle way this ear tattoo celebrates pride. If you want to show off yours with a rainbow tattoo without making a huge statement, this delicate striping across the top of the ear is a great way to do so. This placement is also great because it can easily be shown off—by sweeping your hair behind your ear—or covered up.
6. These musical notes
What’s more appropos for an ear tattoo than a set of sweet music notes? Nothing, TBH. And whether music is your main profession, side hustle, or simple hobby, this tattoo by Milan’s Marco Raise is an ideal homage to the art form, especially placed right where your body absorbs sound. Plus, these tiny shapes make for a quick and easy tattooing experience, too.
7. This elongated leaf design
An ear tattoo doesn’t need to be confined to just the insides. Take this botanical piece by blackwork artist Tim Needham, which makes beautiful use of the entire ear thanks to its flowy design that seamlessly wraps around the inside, the back, and the front.
8. This piercing-centric bloom
A pop of purple lends this otherwise stark design some warm vibrancy. Plus, the design allows you to not only wear earrings uninterrupted, but also helps to make a simple stud, huggie, or hoop a true focal point.
9. This brilliantly placed detailing
We love a unique placement, especially this one along the outer back part of the ear. The tattoo—by Blum, a resident artist at Prisme Tattoo in Marseille, France—is a perfect example of ornamental design.
10. This actually sweet heart
You can wear your heart on your sleeve, or you can wear it on your ear. But no matter the placement, the message remains the same—it’s one of love. And we love this tiny heart nestled inside the ear with just a pop of color to brighten it up.
11. This subversive rocket ship
OK, this tattoo is just plain cool. A tiny little rocket hovering inside your ear surrounded by stars? AND it’s in white ink? Talk about a bold move for a tiny tattoo.
If you liked 11 Subtle Ear Tattoos That Are Also Pretty Swag, be sure to check out 17 Tattoos Any Diehard Fan Would Fall For.