Top 43 Coolest Small Tattoo Ideas – [2021 Inspiration Guide]
A prominent, noticeable tattoo is a conversation piece, but a small tattoo is more likely to surprise and endear those already close to you.
When a specific symbol carries a potent personal meaning, keeping it simple and strong is often the best way to go for small but significant tattoos.
Depending on their placement, small tattoos can be secretive or merely coy. A symbol on the hand, face or neck is visible to all and almost never covered, but still retains some subtlety with its miniature size.
A tattoo on the shoulder, chest or lower leg hide at some times and peer out at others, making these locations exemplary middle ground.
Read on for 43 small tattoo designs that will inspire and beguile when researching your next tattoo idea.
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1. Black and Gray Small Tattoo Ideas
Here is a wonderful example of an American traditional design that uses an expert application to catch the eye instead of bold colors or large size. The line work in this black and gray tattoo is impeccable: the straight lines are perfectly square and the curves in the sails are exact and consistent.
The arcs in the waves are smooth and the shading throughout this tattoo is exceptional. A tattoo this detailed would be impressive if it was on someone’s full chest or back, but the fact that it is small enough to be placed on the forearm and still maintain this level of detail is a testament to the mastery of the artist.
This is another spectacular example of the level of detail that can be achieved in these small, black and gray tattoos. Here, the artist uses fine line work and gray wash to perfectly achieve the impression of a pencil sketch of one of the more iconic motorcycles ever produced. This piece is remarkable for the amount of details that the artist incorporates.
The heads, the case, the suspension, the chain and the exhaust, it’s all there; this tattoo is nearly as accurate as a photograph. The gradation in gray scale tones is excellent, allowing all the different components on the bike to be visible while still creating drop shadows below the wheels as well as highlights in the tank and fenders.
This is an interesting little piece that uses black and gray shading along with other techniques to create a unique character. The line work on this little guy is bold and precise, creating a strong outline that allows the artist to add details without compromising the overall design.
The use of different patterns—the checked shorts, the stippled hair and the squiggles on the hat—help to create a more interesting design while still maintaining a charming simplicity.
2. Photo Realistic Small Tattoo Art
Here, the artist takes a photo-realistic approach to capture one of the most iconic images in the world: the ubiquitous Coca-Cola bottle.
This full-color design uses expert gradation to capture all the different tones in the bottle, creating the effect of light filtering through the sugary drink while the use of negative space in the empty portion of the bottle at the top of the tattoo is expert and gives the impression of the thick glass these bottles are known for.
This is a superb design executed by a skilled artist to create a tattoo that looks like you could pick it up off the wearer’s arm and take a drink.
3. Small Tattoo Animal Body Art
4. Interstellar Small Tattoo Ideas
In this piece, the artist takes a more illustrative approach to create a unique interpretation of the planets in the solar system. While there are aspects of this tattoo that feel loose—the splatters and streaks around some of the planets—this is clearly a deliberate stylistic choice that helps the design stand out from more sterile, scientific tattoos.
The artist’s skill is on display here, not only in the excellent placement and balanced composition but also in the skillful application of the near perfect circles of the planets. This is a great black and gray tattoo that doesn’t rely on large size or vibrant colors to catch the eye.
This is another celestial-inspired piece that uses an illustrative style to create a one of a kind tattoo. Once again, the artist eschews color for a black and gray scheme that uses precise stipple shading to create variations in tone and density.
This piece is interesting for the way the artist is able to use such simple, almost child-like design elements to create an eye-catching design: almost no gray wash is used, with all the differences in textures and tones coming from dots and lines.
The composition is also outstanding. The use of bold lines to create the diamond-shaped outline as well as the way the planets are stacked on top of each other is a unique way to represent the solar system.
5. Geometric Small Tattoo Designs
This tattoo is a great example of how detailed smaller tattoo designs can be. Here, the artist takes a more realistic approach to create the image of a tree, stripped of its foliage and standing in front of the stars in the night sky.
The composition of the background portion is also interesting in the way a rectangular border is used for the starry backdrop, but the branches of the tree are not constrained to these hard lines, creating an interesting effect.
Finally, the use of white ink to create the fine lines and overlapping circles of the tetrahedron, a key design in sacred geometry, is perfectly applied and adds a mystical layer to this highly detailed, small tattoo.
6. Heavy Black Ink Tattoo Art
This is an excellent tattoo and a good example of how small designs can still be attractive. This black and gray piece applies expert shading and the informed use of negative space to create a struck match that incorporates realism into an illustrative style.
The saturation of the black in the head of the match is complete, perfectly capturing the sooty look of burnt wood and the choice of using black and gray shading instead of color in the flame is excellent, giving this tattoo the impression of being a black and white photograph of a burning match.
7. Innovative Small Tattoo Ideas
8. Small Tattoos featuring Weapons
This black and gray piece takes a classic American traditional design and uses unconventional application techniques to help it stand out from other dagger tattoos. Most notable in this tattoo is the use of stipple shading for the entire piece instead of the more traditional black and gray shading techniques used in American traditional designs.
While not everyone appreciates this shading style, the application here is expert and the varying densities of dots add another layer of texture to this tattoo that works well with the negative space in the highlights. The placement on the back of the arm, slicing into the elbow, is also a considered choice that sets this piece apart from similar designs.
9. Small Tattoo Skulls
This is a small, black and gray tattoo that doesn’t sacrifice detail for size and serves a great example of what mini tattoos can look. Here, the artist uses gray wash and stipple shading to perfectly capture the texture of the skull while the shadows are achieved with excellent whip shading.
The limited use of bold line work keeps this piece feeling realistic without letting the details get washed out. The artist uses expert gradation in tones and negative space for highlights to create contrast and increase the definition, helping the details in the eye sockets and teeth to really stand out in delivering an exceptional, small tattoo.
Small Tattoo FAQ’s
Where can men get small tattoos?
The beauty of small tattoos is that you can get them just about anywhere. Some men prefer to get these pieces in visible places like on the hands or the neck as a way to incorporate some above the collar ink without getting completely covered. Others choose to place these tattoos in more traditional places like forearms, biceps, legs, and shoulders.
Another advantage of small tattoos is that they can be incorporated into larger designs further down the road to create a cohesive tattoo or take advantage of a looser composition to achieve a collage-like effect. These tattoos can also serve as a small step into the world of tattoos, and more often than not start a lifelong love affair with ink.
Whether on the face or the chest, as stand-alone pieces or part of a larger design, these small tattoos can be used as tributes to the things most important to the wearer and at the same time serve as pleasing visual decorations for their body.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
With cellphones so ubiquitous, your watch choice can be less about telling time and more about personal style. However, a watch is not ‘just’ a watch. For example, the vast majority are made for right-handed people, but a select few cater to the lefties among us. There is a wide range in functionality and size.
The wristwatch is also one of the few socially acceptable accessories for men, so why not have a small selection? If you’re not cashing a CEO’s paycheck just yet, here are the top 28 most handsome watches for men that retail for under $500.
Got a bigger budget? Then check out our guide to the best men’s watches under $1000 instead.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
1. Tommy Hilfiger Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
If you like the feel of a pliable, non-metal band but aren’t comfortable with genuine leather, this watch comes equipped with a handsome synthetic band. At 46mm in diameter, this watch is perfect for men of smaller stature, as it will not overpower your hand or make it look like you’re wearing your father’s watch. With bold Arabic numerals, a stainless steel case, and classic styling, this watch is an outstanding choice for an everyday watch and the man on a budget.
2. Nordgreen Pioneer – Black Dial
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Not everyone has an endless amount of cash to drop on a luxury timepiece. If you’re money-conscious but want something high-end, then why not consider the Nordgreen Pioneer.
An inspired take on a classic Chronograph, Nordgreen celebrates the Danish with what they call a timepiece “that captures the sustainable future.” Available in various dial colors from blue, black, and white. There’s even the choice of three case colors – gunmetal, silver, and rose gold. A perfect addition to the collection of any watch enthusiast.
3. Fossil Grant Brown Leather WatchCheck Price
This lovely offering by Fossil features slim Roman numeral hour markers and delicate cut-out hands. The casing is stainless steel and is water-resistant to 165 feet, making it a great dive watch. The band is made of supple, soft calfskin leather and uses a buckle closure.
Of course, this timepiece also comes with the generous 11-year warranty and it’s own fun tin. This watch oozes class and is great for nearly every occasion in your life.
4. Citizen Sport Stainless Steel Men’s Watch With Brown Leather Band
If you don’t want to deal with changing out a battery in a digital watch, this watch is powered by either natural or indoor lighting. The mineral crystal face and stainless steel case make this watch water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for swimmers and snorkelers.
Handsome and utilitarian, this is a great watch for everyday wear. It’s one of the best watches for men who are always on the go.
5. Fossil Men’s Machine Chronograph Silicone Watch
This watch was designed with the active man in mind. The knurled silicone band stands up to sweat and oils without issue, and the timepiece itself is water-resistant to 165 feet.
The patterned bezel and quality craftsmanship of the black dial is excellent, as is to be expected from a Fossil watch. It even comes in the iconic and collectible tin!
6. Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Watch
This men’s watch features Japanese quartz movement that charges itself indoors or out when exposed to light, making it a great choice for those who don’t want to change out the battery too often. The stitched canvas strap is soft against your skin and will wick away moisture, while the mineral crystal face stands up to the rigors of your everyday life.
Water-resistant to 330 feet, this dive watch is a classic and simple design you’ll be proud of for years to come.
7. Invicta Pro Diver Chronograph Men’s Watch
Another gorgeous offering by Invicta, this watch features a bold design with a slightly nautical feel to it. It will look at home whether you’re wearing a business suit or are going for a dive of less than 660 feet. This piece is also covered by a one-year warranty as a matter of course. The luminosity feature and magnified date window make it a great choice if you work or play in low light.
If you want something that looks like a Tag Heuer but without the luxury watch brand price tag, this is a good option!
8. Casio Edifice Multi-Function Men’s Watch
This watch has three sub-dials for 12 hour, 60 minute and 60-second displays, in addition to the standard time. It also features a fold-over, push-down clasp on the stainless strap, keeping it secure throughout your activities. If you’re looking for a classy timepiece that shrieks sophistication, this is a great choice.
9. Fossil Machine Three Hand Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This quality watch is a chameleon piece. It looks at home as a dress watch riding below the cuff of your best suit, and it also looks great paired with jeans and a t-shirt. Backed by Fossil’s 11-year warranty as a matter of course and beautifully crafted, this smoke-colored piece is guaranteed to become the go-to accessory for nearly every occasion.
10. MVMT Watches Black Face Men’s Watch
If you like the look of a simple watch, this minimalist offering from MVMT is right up your alley. With just a plain black face, tick marks to denote the hours and a single date window, there is nothing overdone or extravagant about this design. The is understated and suited to the simple design. It’s definitely a classy, low-key piece for the budget-conscious.
11. Timex Weekender Watch
If you’re looking for a fun watch to pair with casual outfits, this is a great option. The band is blue and yellow woven nylon, and the face features both civilian and military timekeeping. An Indiglo night light is also included. This watch is water-resistant to 99 feet, meaning it can withstand splashes of water or exposure to rain but you won’t want to submerge it.
12. PUMA Ultrasize Black Sport Men’s Watch
Boasting a 50mm diameter, this piece is perfect for the large-framed man or one who likes to wear his accessories oversized. A true fashion statement, this sports watch comes in eight different colors schemes to match your favorite hues.
Do be aware, however, that the dial knob is configure for left-handed men!
13. Timex Easy Reader Men’s Watch
Another dress watch designed with the older gentleman in mind, this watch features a white dial with generously sized numerals that do not appear comical to the casual observer.
It’s also an excellent choice if you take your contacts out at night and still want to be able to check the time. With classic lines and a simple white face, the watch would not be out of place at any casual gathering. It comes with Timex’s one-year warranty at no additional charge.
14. Fossil Nate Men’s Chronograph Watch
For men who like a more gritty, industrial feel to their accessories, this Fossil watch is right on point. The bezel is gear-edged and the face is utilitarian black and gray. Water-resistant to 165 feet, this watch is a great choice if you like your adornments to be understated yet add visual interest.
It’s definitely a stand-out piece, for those who would take notice!
15. Timex Expedition Field Chronograph Men’s Watch
Featuring an indigo night light, tachymeter, a date window and a buckle closure, this watch is perfect for men who like to work or play outdoors. It is also water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for snorkeling or swimming.
You won’t want to wear it for diving, however. With classic, black styling and a genuine crystal face, this is a timepiece that will stand the test of time in both form and function.
16. Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This Seiko automatic watch has all the bells and whistles you need, but presents it all in a plain and strikingly attractive manner. It features a date window in either English or Spanish, sword-shaped hands, a sweeping second hand and a mineral dial window. This is a great option for the man on the go. The canvas strap can be removed and hand-washed if sweat or other odors become an issue.
This watch is not water-resistant, so you’ll only want to wear it when you won’t be popping by the pool for a swim!
17. Invicta Pro Diver Collection Silver-Tone Men’s Watch
For those who prefer an all-metal timepiece, the stainless steel Invicta fits the bill nicely. It has a similar aesthetic to a Tag Heuer watch, but at a more affordable price. Equipped with a unilateral bezel and removable links, the band can be customized to fit your wrist perfectly. The face is flame fusion crystal and features a magnifier to highlight the date window.
It’s also water-resistant to 660 feet. If you’re looking for a gorgeous watch that stands up to an active lifestyle, this is an excellent choice.
18. Seiko Men’s Adventure-Solar Classic Casual Watch
This Seiko watch derives its power from either natural or indoor light and can withstand water depths of up to 330 feet. The supple brown leather strap and timeless brushed steel give this piece an attractive look, and the alarm chronograph is easy to set.
If you’re looking for a watch that can serve as a backup for your wake-up call while traveling, stand up to the elements and look awesome, this casual wrist watch is a winner.
19. Nautica Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Blue Resin Band
Featuring a plethora of options and a smart, snappy style, this a great casual watch with a eye-catching blue dial. The hardy resin band is adjustable, and the face is protected by a mineral window. Whether for work or play, this bold blue design is handsome and substantial on the wrist. It comes with Nautica’s five-year warranty at no additional charge.
20. Citizen Sport Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Black Leather Band
The black, red and white face of this piece eschews the traditional two-tone color scheme so often employed in other watches, and the contrasting stitching on the band adds creative flair. It comes backed by Citizen’s five-year warranty and will compliment any casual outfit.
21. Alessi Tic15 Analog Display Analog Quartz Black Men’s Watch
Another not-quite-round offering on our list, the curved square casing of this piece gives it instant visual appeal. Sleek and clean, this unfussy design will be a compliment to almost any occasion. It has quartz movement and is water-resistant to 99 feet, making it a great choice for everyday wear.
22. Invicta 1517 I Force Collection Watch
Another on our list designed for left-handed men, this watch is something special. Water-resistant to 330 feet and featuring oversize stenciled numbers and a sub dial, this watch is great for any casual outfit. The cloth band is extremely durable and stands up to dirt, sweat and grime.
If you lead an active lifestyle, this watch will be right at home in your collection.
23. TRIWA Blue Steel Nevil Canvas Watch
This watch comes in a whopping 14 color variations, all of them beautiful. You may decide to add more than one to your collection!
Designed in Sweden, this watch features Japanese quartz movement, a stainless steel casing and a strap made from Tärnsjö organic leather. TRIWA, which stands for Transforming the Industry of Watches, believes in the artistry of fine jewelry and it shows in their product.
24. Victorinox Swiss Army Alliance Watch
Another fine dress watch from the makers of the Swiss Army knife, this watch is emblazoned with the internally recognized cross and shield emblem. It has no sub-dials, tachymeter or other add-ons to detract from its simple and appealing style.
This watch will be at home with all but the most formal of outfits and carries a two-year warranty.
25. Ingersoll Automatic Stainless Steel Bull Run Watch
Again, Ingersoll remakes the classics and brings them into the present day. With a highly polished stainless steel casing, two sub-dials, a date aperture and arrow-shaped hands, this quartz watch is beautiful.
The band features contrasting stitching on the fine-grain leather, adding depth and detail to the workmanship. This watch will compliment any casual occasion and can be relied upon for years to come.
26. Tissot Quickster Chronograph Black Leather Men’s Watch
Made with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and Swiss automatic movement, this watch is a smart and utilitarian choice. If you’re looking for a solid Swiss watch that isn’t flashy, this is an excellent option. It’s also guaranteed for two years.
27. Seiko Sport Solar Men’s Beige Watch
Are you getting tired of squinting down at your watch or holding it closer and closer to your face? Don’t worry, we all get a bit nearsighted with age, especially over the age of 40.
If you’re not quite ready for reading glasses or a comically huge watch, this is a great choice from Seiko. The numerals, indices and luminous hands stand out in stark white against a black background, and the numerals are generous in size. It’s a perfect casual watch for the older gentleman.
28. Seiko Men’s 5 Watch Blue Canvas Band
This simple and affordable watch has a clean, crisp aesthetic to it and doesn’t bog down its design with a ton of bells and whistles. It’s time and date, end of.
If you want a watch for casual wear, this Seiko is a shoo-in. The band is forgiving and comfortable against your wrist, and it’s blue color will likely compliment your existing wardrobe. The price is also extremely affordable.
29. Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Stainless Steel Watch With Brown Leather Band
Featuring the Hilfiger logo at the three o’clock position, this wrist watch is a statement piece. It is a bright, shiny stainless steel work of art that you’ll be proud to wear at all but the most stuffy of workplaces. The calfskin leather band uses a buckle closure and the date window is beside the logo at three o’clock.
If you’re a fan of Tommy clothing, cologne or luggage, you can complete your look with this stunning accessory.