If you’re looking to flex—literally or otherwise—your bicep might be the perfect place for a new tattoo. It’s one of the most popular locations to get inked, and for good reason: a bicep tattoo is as easy to hide as it is to show off. Small inner bicep tattoos are inherently covert, while large outer bicep pieces are eye catching by nature—though they can also be covered with a simple shirt or jacket. So if you’re considering getting a design in this spot but need some inspiration, check out 17 of the best bicep tattoos around.
1. A crouching tiger
This black-and-grey tiger design from Kira, the resident artist at Homesick—a Toronto-based studio dedicated to blackwork tattoos—enhances the natural curves of her client’s arm by wrapping around it. But what’s really interesting about the piece is the gradient shading: the tiger gets progressively darker from head to tail.
2. Some lively lightning
New York’s Bryan Gutierrez is known for his colorful, fineline floral designs. This purple peony is no exception, featuring incredibly impressive details such as the petals’ shading and the veins on the leaves. But here, a bloom gets toughened up thanks to the bold, black lightning bolt in which in lives. One thing to note about this inner arm location though, is that because of the stretchier skin, it tends to be a more painful place to get tattooed.
3. This sparkling fish
When met with blacklight, this tattoo by Tukoi Oya, an Australian artist who specializes in UV tattoos, literally sparkles. But even without the blacklight, this little rainbow fish (who looks an awful lot like the main character in the legendary children’s book The Rainbow Fish, though we can’t officially confirm a connection) still pops thanks to a bunch of bright red scales.
4. A literal angel
There are so many great South Korean tattoo artists, and Mumi, a tattooer working in Seoul, is definitely one of them. Her designs are often inspired by vintage items—think old perfume bottles, kitchenware, and cameras—as well as classic works of art. This tattoo the biblical angel Gabriel, for instance, is based on a painting by Renaissance artist Luca Giordano.
5. This deadly dancer
This dancing skeleton is pretty lively looking—ironic, right?!—thanks to the vibrant hues that Zihee regularly works with in his pieces. Keep in mind that if you’re interested in super colorful bicep tattoos, it’s important to understand how color can impact cost. Generally, you can assume that more colors means a higher price tag.
6. A hand poked hunny
We love a good large-scale hand poked tattoo, and this piece by artist Krista Morgenson, resident artist at Welcome Home Studio in New York, might just be one of our favorites. The strong, fluid lines keep the piece minimal, but the tattoo’s massive size—it’s pretty much a half sleeve—helps it stand out. Plus, this placement has a perk too: it’s one of the least painful locations for a hand poked tattoo.
7. This cute candy
Charline Bataille—a Montreal-based tattooist who recently did a guest spot at our studio in Toronto—told Inside Out that their motto when it comes to tattoo design is “more is more.” You can see that motto put into practice in all of their pieces, even the small, supposedly simple ones like this strawberry candy encircled with a rainbow’s worth of polka dots.
8. These juicy lips
Talk about a jaw dropper. It’s hard to believe that it’s even possible to tattoo something this realistic, but Niv Buskila, an artist based in Tel Aviv, does it all the time. To make the bright red chili pepper really pop, Buskila—who just recently began experimenting with color in his designs—left the mouth black and grey. And that shine? That’s the work of some white ink.
9. This pretty portrait
Australia’s Jacqueline May tattoos many of her portraits like the woman above—emotive, highly stylized, and reminiscent of the 19th century. But the most unique element of her style is how she works with mag lines, which are double-wide needles. By highlighting the needles’ individual lines in her pieces, May adds texture and dimension to her work.
10. The tiniest text
As mentioned, inner bicep tattoos can be incredibly covert, and there are few as covert as this single needle text piece. Plus, this tattoo—from a South Korean artist known as wittybutton who specializes in tiny, delicate designs—will be even harder to spot once it’s fully healed.
11. This perched parrot
This profile of a parrot by French tattooist Adrien Tenderpiece is a quintessential example of the American Traditional style which has hallmarks including thick black outlines and a color palette of earth tones like reds, yellows, browns, and greens.
12. A couple of hands
Sure, some inner bicep tattoos are easily concealable, but then there’s this blackwork piece by Seoul’s Noil Culture—also a previous guest artist at Inside Out studio—which is meant to stand out. The bold lines and blackfill add detail and contrast to this mismatched set of hands.
13. This massive-but-minimal rose
We’re not giving out an award for most interesting placement, but if we were, this tattoo by Marc Bonin would win. (Should we? Honest question.) The flowy lines that define this massive flower head—and are a recurring feature of the artist’s designs—are gorgeous, but it’s the rose’s stem, which follows the curve of the body from the upper bicep to the bottom of the armpit, that really makes this piece stand out. Here beauty truly is pain, especially while the stem was being drawn—the armpit tends to be extra sensitive to pain.
14. These sweet kitties
This one is for all the cat lovers out there. What’s up, guys? Check out this design from Kiera, a Melbourne-based tattooist, who is known for her Neotraditional style kitty-tats (sorry, had to). She almost exclusively tattoos cats (although she occasionally tattoos dogs, too) in all sorts of interesting scenarios: inside fruits, eating ramen, and dressed as mermaids.
15. An important reminder
Therapeutic tattoos are a growing trend. Increasingly, people are getting inked as a way of practicing active self-love and self-acceptance. While we don’t know the story behind this hand poked piece by Seattle-based artist Emily Rose, it’s a great example of what a self-love tattoo can look like. And because the self-affirming text is placed along the lower, inner bicep, it’s easy to see whenever you need a pick-me-up.
16. This mesmerizing mermaid
Styles collide times three in this piece by Toronto-based tattooer Lee. Here, the design is of a mermaid that mixes components of blackwork (the dark hair), watercolor (the coloring of its tail), and fineline (the detailing on the tail and face).
17. The sweetest sunflower
Just because this flower is teeny, doesn’t mean it’s not also incredibly intricate—just look at those details! Here, the artist probably used one of the smallest needles in their kit to add everything you can see when you zoom in—the shading on the petals, the stippling of the florets—which doesn’t look more than a few centimeters wide.
If you liked our gallery 17 Bicep Tattoos to Inspire Your Next Piece, make sure to check out 14 Ideas for Neck Tattoos That Aren’t Aggressive.