Hand tattoos used to be reserved for people who were already covered in ink; individuals whose hands were their only remaining blank canvases. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. The mainstream acceptance of tattoos means that super-visible ink (think: neck, finger, face and hand tattoos) are more popular than ever, even amongst the most novice tattoo lovers. So if you’re considering getting a hand tattoo, you’re in good company.
Hand tattoos are central, they’re conversation starters, and although the placement is known to be pretty painful, that doesn’t seem to affect its allure. We love hand tattoos, too, so here we’re sharing some of our favorites for inspiration.
1. These three lovely words
Sometimes love involves pain, especially if you decide to declare your love for someone via palm tattoo (the palm is widely considered one of the most painful spots to get inked). But the sensitivity of the placement didn’t stop this client from getting a palm piece from Curt Montgomery, resident artist at our very own Inside Out studio in Toronto. And we’d argue that his text-based design—which is stunningly simple but also bold, thanks to his signature thick lines—is worth whatever short term pain getting it might inflict.
2. This literal eyeful
We recently put together our predictions for the top 2020 tattoo trends, and new takes on old school American Traditional style design is one of them. What exactly does that look like? This trippy hand tattoo by New Mexico’s Christopher Scott is a perfect example—it combines classic Traditional style imagery (like panthers, roses, and pin-up girls) with more modern, creative compositions.
3. These little leaves
Tiny tattoos don’t need to be covert. Take this botanical design from Toronto-based tattooist Lindsay April, for instance. The artist, who specializes in single-needle tattoos, used several little bunches of leaves to create a larger composition that extends from her client’s wrist, up their hand and index finger. It’s delicate, but it definitely isn’t dainty.
4. This sketch style sweetheart
Jika is a French tattooist known for his signature crossover style. He combines elements of both blackwork and sketch style (which incorporates the rough linework typically found in the first draft of a drawing) in his designs, as seen in this unique hand tattoo.
5. This bitty blossom
If you’re looking for something subtle, this little cherry blossom by South Korean tattoo artist Sodam, might make for great inspiration. The fine line floral design is tiny, but it’s also packed with an impressive amount of detail. Seriously, take a second to appreciate the shading on the leaves and the inclusion of the stamen and stigma at the center of the flower blossom. Just wow.
6. This bold butterfly
We’ve been seeing butterfly tattoos everywhere lately, and Carolina Riberg’s is definitely one of our favorites. Here, the Brazilian tattooer put a fun spin on her black and grey design—it also includes some great dotwork detailing—by splitting it in two. Only when her client’s hands come together, is the design complete.
7. Some inspirational ink
We all occasionally require a little push to get motivated, and this text tattoo by Miika (AKA Mz. Inkbomb) does exactly that. The California-based artist inked a permanent reminder to work hard but remain humble on her client’s hand. We especially love the contrast between the red and black ink—and the two different fonts—used in this design.
8. This Neo Traditional take
Done by Rebecca O’Quinn, a Halifax-based tattoo artist who specializes in Neo Traditional style designs, this colorful piece is perfect for all the flower lovers out there. While most of her designs are done in black and grey, O’Quinn occasionally experiments with colors, too. In this hand piece, she opted for desaturated colors that bring a soft, warm tone to the tattoo, but then also added some white ink detailing to make the design pop.
9. A moon for a star
Last year, we chatted with Mira Mariah (AKA Girl Knew York), resident artist at New York’s Fleur Noire Tattoo Parlour, about her experience with hand tattoos. She’s has her own hands tattooed and has also done quite a few hand pieces for clients—like this sun and moon design she did on Ariana Grande. Mariah, who is one of Grande’s go-to tattooers, confirmed that hand tattoos can be super painful (she cried while getting her own hands inked), but we like to think that the pain is worth it when the end result is a tattoo this beautiful.
10. This hand poked palm
It can’t be easy tattooing the part of the hand that’s most prone to pain, especially as a hand poke tattoo artist. Hand poke tattoos typically take longer to complete than machine tattoos, so even though this palm piece is small, it likely required a lot of time to and patience for both the client and the Mexico City based tattooer, Ale, who managed to tattoo some impressively clean, minimal lines on such a sensitive part of the body (which was definitely a difficult feat).
11. These abstract arches
We love the abstract nature of this cool hand tattoo by Juliette Bisous, resident artist at La Kermesse studio in Paris. The bright, vibrant piece is simple, but also striking thanks to the thick, colorful, cubism-inspired lines used by the hand poke artist (yes, she filled in all that color by hand).
12. This sweet smiley
Smiling is contagious (seriously, it’s scientifically proven), so having a smile constantly looking up at you can help turn all your frowns upside down. That’s why we love this hand poked hand tattoo by Seattle-based artist MKNZ—every time we look at it we can’t help but grin.
13. A tiny T-Rex
We can’t help but think about Jurassic Park, every time we see this little dinosaur tattoo (maybe it’s because we were just looking at Jurassic Park ink when we put together our list of movie-inspired tattoos). The T-Rex—tattooed by Miami-based artist Karry Ka-Ying Poon—is small, but it’s also packed with so much detail that you can clearly see the viciousness in its face and the sharp tips of its teeth.
14. This important reminder
Society has been very focused on self care over the past few years—rightfully so. Our wellbeing is important and we know it, which is why so many of the top New Year’s resolutions are about personal wellness. But if you need a more permanent reminder to take care of yourself—one that you’ll see every time you look down—this white ink tattoo by Patrick Bate is it. The Brighton-based hand poke artist better known as ‘European Son,’ does all sorts of tattoos, but his most recognizable pieces are his text-based designs, like this one on Surimi, a fellow European tattooist (she’s from Madrid).
If you liked our gallery of hand tattoo designs, be sure to check out our story about How Much Getting a Hand Tattoo Hurts.