While most people spend a lot of time thinking about design, an often neglected area is thinking about where to put the tattoo on their body.
There are a few main factors you should take into consideration: social, aesthetic, and professional. Depending on your career and social life, you may want to consider tattoos that won’t be seen by casual acquaintances: this rules out the forearms arms, calves and feet as tattoo locations. However, for some people, anything covered by a business suit is OK.
Remember, how your body looks is in part of how you express yourself to others, and thus how you are judged.
Things that are OK with your friends may not fly during a job interview or when you need something from someone with a negative attitude toward tattoos.
This is why most people, and especially people new to tattoos, should avoid getting tattoos, on their hands, neck, or head and face. In fact, most shops will refuse to do the work unless it is obvious you are already ‘in the tattoo game’. The reason is that these are areas you cannot easily hide behind clothes, and no matter who you are, there will be situations where you don’t want to show that ink to the world.
When Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling, he didn’t just copy artwork that he had drawn earlier on paper, he went one step further and estimated the curvature in the domed ceiling, and was able to slightly distort the images he was painting so that it would look proportionate to someone on the ground.
In the same way, when considering your own body art, you have to take into account your body’s natural shape. This is something you can work on with your tattoo artist, but keep it in mind as you consider a design.
For example, if you have thin arms, a full on vertical portrait is not going to look right. The edges will curve around your arm and distort the image.
If you are thinking about a tattoo on your leg, know that the shape of your calf will have the same effect; long, straight vertical or horizontal lines will distort. It’s best to match the type of lines in a design to the curves on the body part being tattooed.
Designs with a lot of straight lines, or images that cannot be distorted are best on simple, flat areas like the back or shoulder blade. Similarly, designs with many flowing curves are best paired with a body part that’s natural curves will complement the design, like a shoulder, arm, or leg.
You can use tattoos to break up blank space, this is why wide, short tattoos are popular on the lower back.