Sometimes the smaller the tattoo, the greater the impression–in other words, big isn’t always better. And this is no more true than in the world of geometric design.
Poetic mandalas, mathematical figures, and all manner of organic subjects are often best depicted in a subtle, understated style.
A geometric multi-sided die reminiscent of the popular Dungeons & Dragons game is perfect in minute rendering, while circular shapes made up of millions of dots that feather out in progressively smaller sizes are perfect for more understated locations. Southwestern bow and arrows are also an option, while primitive planetary portraits featuring simple line work and circular patterns can adorn almost any part of the body with easy appeal.
Founded out of necessity for one’s field of work or in preference of a simpler aesthetic, there’s no denying the “come hither” seductiveness of smaller tattoos. Studding the wrist, upper arm, neck, or chest, small but masculine geometric tattoos require a certain intimacy from the viewer, a peek-a-boo kind of coyness that invites only a select few in–and holds them there.
1. Geometric Animal Tattoos
There’s nothing more bad ass in all of fantasy than the Animal Warrior. Aboriginal cultures across the globe have incorporated the sacredness of animal friends, guides and spirits into traditional costumes, rituals and dance.
A geometric animal tattoo is a perfectly modern way to carry on this tradition. Due to the simplicity of design this style is especially suited to representing animals in their broadest most archetypal format and make great small arm tattoos. Popular choices include the wolf, the bear and the deer revealing their strong North American influence.
In fact, animal tattoos are so old in human society that they have been found on 2400 year old mummies recovered in the High Altai Mountains of Western and Southern Siberia. You will be joining a long list of men with small tattoos with meaning.
2. Geometric Dotwork Tattoos
Dotwork is absolutely ideal for small arm tattoos<span data-contrast=”auto”>. It’s a painstaking technique that requires the tattoo artist to create images or shading by hand poking single dots at a time. There is an immense amount of precision as dots are delicately blended to create striking and detailed designs.
Obviously due to the painful and time consuming nature of this technique it’s both practical and beautiful to go small. The rewards are evident as your piece will appear softer, blended and more natural. In particular this technique is very popular for geometric tattoos.
Dotwork is one of the oldest and most traditional tattooing techniques. It dates back many thousands of years and multiple cultures from the Ancient Egyptians through to Polynesian tribespeople. Combining this technique with a geometric design is about as ‘old and new’ as you can get.
Perhaps even more bad ass is its widespread use in prisons. Rest assured in the hands of a skilled professional your piece will be significantly nicer than what you’ll usually get from inside the joint. You know, unless you’re into that kind of thing.
3. Minimalist Geometric Tattoos
Minimalist art is the ability to say a lot with a little and minimalist tattoos are no different. We’ve been using simple geometric patterns to represent the mysteries of the universe since time immemorial. Some of the simplest patterns can be the most powerful. Minimalism and geometric tattoos are a match made in heaven. Both absolutely pop with clean, straight lines.
These designs are also very practical in terms of time, money, visibility and dare I say it even bravery. Since some people like to get into the pool one toe at a time rather than dive in head first. They are also perfect for those want to get a tattoo but don’t find more mainstream tattoo culture appealing. Minimalist geometric tattoos are a perfect counter weight to full sleeves, giant photorealistic portraits, in your face full colour or even the bodysuit.
If you’re wanting to get a tattoo that is counter to the mainstream and maintain that personal intimacy, then minimalist geometric style ink is the way to go.
4. Geometric Geography and Compass Tattoos
Tattoos are the best possible way to pay tribute to something, someone or somewhere special to you. Many of us feel a strong connection to our place of birth or a sacred space we’ve been on our travels. Even if you can’t be back there you can carry it with you forever wherever you go by getting it in ink.
The beauty of a geometric design is that you can keep it simple. A mountain peak, a city skyline. Both say so much with so little. Using geometric designs is a great way to include symbolism without overdoing it.
The compass is instantly recognisable as one of the oldest and most universal instruments of navigation. The symbol is loaded with meaning. Far from home or heading home are both equally applicable. Likewise the moon, the sun, the yin and yang. All can fit nicely and neatly within a geometric geography tattoo.
5. Innovative Geometric Tattoos
If none of the above tattoos grab you then don’t hesitate to take an approach that’s never been used before. Use your canvas to combine styles, mix traditional or tribal with geometric to make something new within the existing style.
This form is perfect for small arm tattoos. A perfect trade off for those who might want a traditional Polynesian style tribal sleeve without putting that many hours in the chair and making that much of a statement. Or even for those who want traditional symbols such as an anchor or rose but really like the clarity of geometric designs.
Perhaps you want a cool symbol and want to avoid script (foreign or otherwise). A fractal style combination of squares, circles or triangles could work to have that simple, punchy impact.
Enjoy these examples of small tattoos but looking for more ink inspiration? Click on the links below for more awesome galleries: