If you’re interested in getting a chest tattoo but need more information—and inspiration—you’ve come to the right place. While chest tattoos have historically been seen as highly masculine, or reserved for individuals who are heavily tattooed, times have changed. Thanks to the mainstream popularity—and wider cultural acceptance—of tattoos, chest pieces have become increasingly popular among all sorts of people, from tattoo novices to experts. And despite the fact that the chest is known to be one of the more painful spots to get tattooed, people continue to choose the placement because, to put it simply: chest tattoos look great and they’re versatile. The placement is central and can be easily shown off, but is also easy to cover. So if you’re into chest tattoos, too, below we’re sharing 15 of our favorites.
1. This big, blue bloom
A resident artist at one of Seoul’s most popular tattoo shops, Studio by Sol, Eunyu is known for her colorful, fine line designs. While most of her pieces are quite small—scroll through her Instagram page and you’ll see that she’s no stranger to the tiny tattoo trend—she occasionally does larger designs, too, like this bright blue botanical.
2. These twin tigers
Belgian artist Mab Matière Noire likes to experiment with styles. She defaults to minimal design; stripping the subjects of her tattoos down to their most simplistic forms, but occasionally opts for more detailed illustrative pieces or blackwork instead. Botanical detailing is central to many of her designs, regardless of style, though—you could say it’s a signature element of her pieces—like the leaves decorating the tiger on the right side of this client’s chest.
3. These wispy waves
Toronto-based artist Jess Chen is a master of what we call ‘body as a canvas’ designs (which we’ve predicted will be one of 2020’s top tattoo trends). She creates incredible, large-scale pieces designed around the unique curves of her clients’ bodies. Sometimes her canvas is a full back. Other times it’s the entire backside of a body. In this case, she worked with a smaller canvas—the area between her client’s shoulders—decorating their chest with fluid, wavy lines.
4. This swoopy spiral
We love this simplicity of this swirly, spiral tattoo by Gossamer Rozen, resident artist at somewhere, a private tattoo studio in New York. Rozen specializes in illustrative hand poked tattoos, many of which—like this piece—make use of gradient coloring. That’s right, they packed in all that color by hand, a feat that makes this chest tattoo even more impressive.
5. This blackwork bundle
Part of the beauty of an upper chest tattoo, like this piece by Nico Jacoby (the Amsterdam-based artist better known as Nicobone), is its versatility. It can be easily hidden under a crew neck t-shirt or sweater, but also on full display if you’re rocking something with a deeper cut, like a v-neck or tube top. We love this piece so much that we’d like for it to always be on display, though. And notice the way Jacoby overlays some of the petals to seamlessly connect each flower? Such a smart design decision in a seemingly simple flower tattoo.
6. A perfect pet portrait
Until you’re a pet parent, it’s hard to comprehend the amount of love you can have for an animal (it’s A LOT of love). Yet the statistics speak for themselves: over 50 percent of Americans are pet owners, and many Millennials are prioritizing pets over children. As pet parenthood becomes more popular, so do pet tattoos. This person gets it. To pay homage to their beloved dog, they opted for a black and grey realism portrait of the pet from South Korean tattooist Diim Gray.
7. These dainty dots
If you’re looking for something understated, this piece by Giulia Fruzzettia might be a good match. Here, the Italian artist tattooed a series of tiny ornamental designs—five triangles made up of distinct dots—that make for one of the most stunningly simple chest tattoo designs in this gallery.
8. This geometric gem
Simple yet bold. That’s the best way to describe this massive geometric chest tattoo by Brooklyn-based artist Victor Webster. Like many of Webster’s pieces, this tattoo is clearly inspired by traditional tribal tattoos. In fact, according to his profile on the East River Tattoo (where he’s a resident artist) website, Webster “fell in love with Pacific Island tattoos at an early age” and they continue to inspire most of his work. But what’s especially impressive about this design is that it’s freehanded: Webster drew this directly on the client, stencil free.
9. These Picasso-esque profiles
We love the abstract faces illustrated in this piece by Romeo Bisous, resident artist at La Kermesse studio in Paris. Bisous actually specializes in cubism style tattoos, which, as the name suggests, are inspired by cubism art (like the work of Picasso). Cubism artists turn everyday objects into abstract renderings created entirely from geometric outlines and, of course, cubes—hence Bisous’ geometric, minimalist spin on faces in this cool chest tattoo.
10. These big botanicals
This chest tattoo is so large that it doubles as a neck tattoo, too. The Neo-Traditional style floral design—which is a modern, detail-oriented update on the American Traditional style—also includes some geometric detailing in the center, and was done by Jen Tonic, resident at Sticks & Stones Tattoo in Berlin.
11. This colorful creation
Portland-based artist Dave (better known as Winstone the Whale) is not shy when it comes to color. The owner and resident artist at Good Stuff Tattoo has a highly illustrative style that combines hypersaturation (another top tattoo trend of 2020) and blackwork. While some of his pieces are pretty trippy, Dave also does ornamental work, like this tattoo which hits almost every part of the chest from the sternum to the clavicle.
12. A stunning post-mastectomy piece
“When breast cancer leads to a mastectomy, patients are left with a permanent reminder across their chest of what the disease took from them,” Inside Out contributor Suzanne Zuppello wrote in an article about post-mastectomy tattoos. “Whether they get them to heal, mask their pain, or start fresh, mastectomy tattoos are an increasingly popular choice in lieu of nipple tattooing or breast reconstruction entirely.” This full chest piece by David Allen is a beautiful example of post-mastectomy ink. The Chicago-based tattooer’s black and grey realism design turns something that once caused pain into a work of art.
13. This black and grey butterfly
Has anyone else noticed that butterfly tattoos are making a comeback? There’s a saying in fashion (and culture, more broadly) that ‘everything old becomes new again.’ Clearly, that’s true for tattoos, too, since butterflies, which were a staple of early 2000s tattoo design, are on trend once more. And this sweet butterfly design was done by Yeji, a South Korean artist who, by our count (based on their Instagram) tattooed seven butterflies in December 2019 alone.
14. This family-inspired frame
There’s a lot of detail packed into this tiny chest tattoo by Eq, another resident artist at South Korea’s Studio by Sol. The artist refers to these designs as “frame tattoos,” which involve tattooing just a sliver of a larger picture, encased inside a thin rectangle. Eq only began doing frame tattoos in August 2019, but has since done several dozens including the nature-inspired sibling tattoo above (you can see the matching piece here).
15. This traditional take
There are countless reasons people choose to get a new tattoo, including to pay homage to a loved one. That’s exactly what this mother did when she opted to get her daughter’s name, “Leni,” tattooed alongside this American Traditional style floral design by Australian artist Avalon Todaro.
If you liked our gallery 15 Chest Tattoo Ideas to Inspire Your Next Piece, make sure to check out our piece exploring How Much a Chest Tattoo Hurts.