For some people, choosing a tattoo location involves finding a place easy to cover. For others, that consideration doesn’t really matter.
Men making the leap into highly visible tattoos don’t have to get huge pictures drawn on their backs like paintings, or designs covering a leg.
Instead, a man might opt for a small tattoo to accent the rugged features of his hands, using the design to highlight strong fingers, or callouses that reveal interesting hobbies.
Tattoos on the hand can be single letters, words that move with the sinews, a design on a finger, or any number of other things. The important part is that bold is the key so the tattoo will look good for years to come.
Small spaces can have high impacts, especially when the hand is basically uncover-able. Ink connoisseurs will know that even a small tattoo can have a dramatic impact. Our hands are one of our biggest communicators, and one featuring a tattoo says bold and fearless.
The following gallery show cases creative examples of small tattoos on hands, and should give you an idea of the range of style choices you can make. Your hands will be one of the first things that people see and they should get a sense of who you are. There should be plenty of inspiration here.
Little Hand Tattoos
These small double anchor tattoos exemplify popular homages to north American Classic tattoos, bringing back a time when sailors, not unlike outlaw motorcyclists, liked to display their otherness through body art.
This nifty axe is more detailed than a lot of other little hand tattoos. There’s an attractive degree of shading in both the haft and axe head. The solid line makes it interesting handiwork.
Crowns make for popular small hand tattoos because of their interesting shape and ability to be made unique. This is a nice example of a solid black crown, with the jewellery forming contrast to the solidity of the rest of the piece.
A rustic minimalist version of the classic dog’s paw tattoo. These small tattoos are also becoming increasingly popular on the ankles and feet as well.
The swallow is another head nod to classical north American Classic tattoo art. This piece is beautifully done, using the uncomplicated Sailor Jerry type color scheme to fill the bird out as it flies across the top of the man’s hand.
This intricate compass is effective in such a small space. This type of tattoo can sometimes be difficult to pull off given the toughness of the hand to do quality line work and shading.
A simple, minimalist crossed pair of anchors. You could be forgiven for thinking they look like a pair of cufflinks tossed haphazardly in your top drawer.
Simple crossed arrows on this man’s palm bely the difficulty of this tattoo. Palm tattoos could be the hardest ones to have succeed anywhere. Make sure you’re fully aware of issues in color drop out and aftercare when contemplating a palm tattoo. Some artists won’t consider doing them.
Another paw tattoo; notice the slight smudge/discoloration of the smaller pads of the foot. This happens often in hand tattoos and can either be left to ‘age’ gracefully or touched up, which may incur an extra cost.
This delicate flower is nicely rendered for such a small tattoo. It looks likely that it’s held up through the aftercare process with no drop out.
“Fight to live” has a nice font for that part of the hand and the words run nicely along the curve. The main part is complemented by red color flourishes that will settle when ageing into the skin.
This is a funky version of the complimentary double hand tattoo. There’s excellent use of line work and shadow to create this piece. Also note the missing leaf on the right hand due to the other hand tattoo he has.
This is a great example of a small animal realism piece. It’s very deftly and delicately done, with elegant shading of the wing and tail feathers standing out. The artist put some quality time into executing this hand art.
This is very impressive. It’s hard when doing hand tattoos to put a lot of depth into the image, and here the artist successfully gets a pair of skulls inside the four-leaf clover, balancing some sweet gray scale shading with sharp black line work.
This tribal inspired art mixes the Eye of Horus – symbolizing regeneration and rebirth in Ancient Egyptian scripture – with another piece of text to form a fully realized image in flat black. This would have been done using a single, narrow gauge needle.
This is an impressively detailed full axe. The double-bladed head is shaded strongly, but the key to this is the shading along the haft to create small, realistic wood grain and leather binding for the grip.
This is a well-executed Chicano style font in four parts. The linework here is extremely sharp, giving the lettering a calligraphy feel.
The number 13 in tattoo ‘flips’ the script on the cleanskins who view it as an unlucky number. 13 is a popular tattoo as a symbol of otherness from the norm – hearkening back to a time when tattoos weren’t as accepted as they are now. Studios now do tattoo marketing by selling lucky 13 $$$ days, flash days and walk in only days to build business, get customers, or gain traction on social media.
Avant-garde and ironic tattoos are often used in hand ink. This can be anything from the funny moustache to this example – the bike guy rolling along with a bike tattoo on his hand.
Etching these bold Nordic runes into this man’s skin wouldn’t have tickled. The effect is a strong piece of art across both hands. It would’ve likely taken a steady hand and single needle to implement this idea, but the line work is exceptional, and well worth a bit of pain in the digits to achieve.
Wow. This deer head is a well-drawn realist tattoo. The sweeping antlers are a great flourish of clear line work. Little hand tattoos of this kind are rare – it’s difficult to navigate such detail in a hand tatt.
Anubis, the Jackal headed Ancient Egypt God who was replaced by Osiris as the Lord of the Underworld and left to tend to mummification and dressing the dead. Amulets of the Ancient Gods are still very popular. This is a beautifully solid representation inked into the hand. The strength of the black is that it makes Anubis look like he was stamped, and not tattooed, on to the top of his hand.
This is a wacky take on a minimalist tattoo. The simple church has been drawn with nice clear lines, looking a lot larger than it is at the top of his knuckle.
This simple tribal tattoo is a bit of a rarity, given that it’s inked on the edge of the hand just above the wrist bone.
Tattoos in the no man’s land on the edge of your hand are not unlike those of the palm in that color can fall out and lose structure, especially over time. This ‘have heart’ lettering is well drawn, benefitting from simple, clean lines in the font rather than a less fitting pattern.
This kitchen knife is a bold cover up of an old tattoo. You can see the old work in blue, within the frame of the blade, that has faded seriously since it was first done.
You can make the argument that this delicately drawn Native American headdress should be taking pride of place on more prime real estate such as a shoulder or sleeve. It’s a fantastic miniature tattoo – the feathers are amazingly worked and must have been difficult to get right in the execution.
A gentlemen’s hand tattoo. The focus of this picture is the watch, but the ink is noteworthy, especially given the lack of love visible tattoos garner from the wider population. The pair of minimalistic, interlinked triangles are almost demure when contrasted against the massive watch face.
Can’t help but dig the old school Halloween flash art notebook being emptied out onto someone’s fingers. It’s like a Friday the 13th flash art sale combined on one man’s hands. It’s effective, and quite bold when taken together as an entire piece.
The old school straight razor – hipster barber or Peaky Blinder? The shading stands out, creating a realistic blade and grain on the woodworked handle of the razor. The image being half folded also adds impact to the shape of the tattoo on the hand itself, which may have been lost if completely unfurled.