Last year, my Instagram recommendations became flooded with stomach tattoo designs and I immediately fell in love with the placement. It’s an incredibly personal location for a tattoo—a spot that other people likely won’t see often unless you opt to show it off by going topless or rocking a crop top—and it’s a big enough canvas that you can get some pretty large-scale designs there if that’s your style. It’s also a notoriously painful placement, though. While some of us might carry a little extra weight around our tummies, that padding usually doesn’t help shield from the discomfort of a tattoo artist stretching, pushing, and poking on the skin right above so many of your vital organs. Still, I’d venture to say that getting a stunning stomach tattoo is worth any short term pain it might inflict.
If you’re into stomach tattoos, too, and like me, you need more inspiration before getting one done permanently, we’ve got you covered. Here are 13 of our favorite tummy tats.
1. These little leaves
This cute collection of little leaves by Toronto-based tattooer Lindsay April is delicate, sure, but it’s also incredibly intricate. Notice the veins and subtle shading in each leaf? The artist, who is known for her botanical designs, was able to fit such fine detailing into the piece because of her single needle tattooing technique. Tattooing using a single, thin needle, allows her to maximize the amount of detail in even the tiniest designs.
2. This hand poked piece
It may be hard to believe, but the entirety of this massive mandala was hand poked. The piece was done at Femme Fatale Tattoo in London, England by the studio’s owner and resident artist Grace Neutral who is one of the tattoo industry’s most well-respected artists. The self-taught tattooist and body modification enthusiast is well known for her artistic ability as well as for her many media appearances—she previously hosted tattoo documentary series for both i-D and Viceland.
If you’re a fan of Grace Neutral’s style but can’t make the trip to London to get tattooed, you can still rock her designs. Shop her temporary tattoo designs here.
3. A belly ablaze
Have you ever heard the expression “fire in the belly”? It’s a phrase that describes someone who has a strong sense of ambition or determination; someone who is passionate and committed to success. So, if you’re a person with fire in the belly, this minimal tattoo (of fire on the belly) might be the perfect piece for you.
4. This dancing duo
Cinematic worlds collide in this movie-inspired tattoo by Tel Aviv’s Edit Ben Gida (AKA Edit Paints). The artist mixes Disney’s first ever princess, Snow White, with one of Quentin Tarantino’s most famous characters, Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction. She also effortlessly mixes styles—she tattooed Snow White in the character’s classic cartoon form and Vega in a more realistic style. Movie tattoos (and in particular, Disney tattoos) account for a large part of Gida’s portfolio. In fact, during just the first two months of 2020 she did designs based on Beauty and The Beast, Harry Potter, Green Mile, John Wick, and Corpse Bride among others.
5. A sunset scene
Known only as “EQ,” the tattooer behind this piece specializes in a style they refer to as “frame tattoos”. The resident artist at one of Seoul’s largest and most popular tattoo studios, Studio by Sol (which is home to 27 other artists), tattoos just a sliver of larger images packed into a thin, rectangular composition.
6. This pastel poppy
It’s no surprise that an artist with the Instagram handle ‘@tattooist_flower’ is a master of floral tattoos. This poppy design was done by the South Korean tattoo artist in their signature watercolor style. What really perfects the tattoo is its placement, though. The way its little leaf gently wraps around the client’s belly button is seriously stunning.
7. A two-faced tiger
In the classic animated TV series Tom and Jerry, Tom (the cat in the above tattoo) is constantly getting himself into trouble during his quests to find and devour Jerry (the mouse living in his house). The show first aired in the 1940s, but the inspiration for this tattoo comes from a more recent 2006 episode entitled “Tiger Cat.” The cute cartoon tiger from the original episode has been updated in this stomach tattoo by artist Manh Huynh, though. Here, the tattooer combined Jerry’s iconic face with a tiger head inspired by traditional Japanese tattoo design.
8. This divine devil
Mira Mariah, the Brooklyn-based tattooer known better as ‘Girl Knew York‘ (she’s also well known as one of Ariana Grande’s go-to tattoo artists) told Inside Out in a previous interview, “I joke a lot that good tattoos look like you were born with them. It looks like it was always part of you.” That’s clearly true of this femme devil design, done in the artist’s signature flowing fine line style. If you enjoy Mariah’s pieces and want one of your own, it’s worth noting that her books fill up very fast, so you’ll need to subscribe to her newsletter if you want to snag a sought-after appointment.
Alternatively, you can wear her designs in semi-permanent form. Shop the GirlKnewYork x Inkbox collection, here.
9. This slithering snake
Earlier this year, we put together a list of predictions for the top tattoo trends of 2020—one of those predictions was style mixing, as seen in this sweet snake design. This stomach tattoo was a collaboration between partners in life and tattooing, Alice (@lafragile_) and Sab (@cuoredoro__), both resident artists at The White Whale Tattoo Society in Padua, Italy. Here, the couple brings together their two distinct styles to create a crossover composition that beautifully combines Alice’s colorful illustrative snake with Sab’s bold, ornamental blackwork.
10. A heavenly heart
Clearly this client is feeling blessed by their tattoo. We get it—we’re feeling blessed just getting to admire the bold beauty of the design. Done by Meg Tuey, resident artist at Castro Tattoo in San Francisco, the ignorant style heart looks like it’s radiating love through its sun-like rays. So cute!
11. This cute crescent
If you’re looking for something a little more subtle, this celestial-inspired stomach tattoo could be a great option. Using a very thin needle, hand poke tattoo artist Charlotte Lacheussee (AKA Sticks Not Stones) of South City Market tattoo studio in London was able to create the impressively fine lines and light dotwork seen in the above design.
12. A blackwork butterfly
Butterflies are back! The winged creatures were a staple of tattoo design in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, but at the time they were a fad that didn’t take long to go out of style. That is until recently. Now, we’re seeing butterfly tattoos everywhere. Artists are tattooing butterflies in a wide range of styles—from small watercolor pieces to bold blackwork designs like this one by Ze Aya, resident artist at Maria Paradise Tattoo Studio in the UK.
13. Fine, fluid lines
Maximalism meets minimalism in this wavy line design by another talented Toronto-based tattooist, Emily Trajkovski. The hand poke tattoo artist, who is a master of clean, simple linework pieces—if you scroll through her portfolio you’ll see she’s done many of them, including impressively straight hand poked lines—used the entire width of her client’s stomach for the fun, fluid design.