Top 59 Shoulder Tattoo Ideas [2021 Inspiration Guide]
Shoulder tattoo styles feature distinctive designs, shapes, sizes, and application techniques to make outstanding body art.
Shoulder tattoos are popular precisely because they’re versatile in size and offer interesting placement choices.
Animal motifs, Japanese influences, traditional tribal tattoo, and black and gray warrior styles are great men’s tattoo ideas, while for women designs can be traditional, like a butterfly tattoo or rose shoulder tattoo, however increasingly contemporary options like a tiny tattoo or small tattoo are sought after.
All it takes is knowing what tattoo will suit you and look the absolute best down the road. Read on for the photo guide of the top 59 best cool shoulder tattoo designs, and the list of 50+ best tattoo ideas for 2020.
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1. Warrior Shoulder Tattoo Ideas
This Spartan tattoo is almost a cover-up; it helps link together disparate elements of his other work with a large black and gray shaded image that pulls the other pieces in.
An enjoyable black work neo classical play on Japanese Irezumi. This is an elaborate piece despite only being in black and grey. The interplay of shapes and expert use of shading really makes this a standout bit of art.
The most popular shoulder ink often incorporates the shoulder itself, the pectoral, bicep, and/or blade in the execution of designs. This creates great variety in pricing options and the time taken to tattoo the shoulder area, but also makes for impressive final options.
The black and gray examples of bad ass warriors above incorporate brilliant shading and detail to create each tattoo design crisply. In some cases, the top shoulder is a transit point for the art as it flows into an arm tattoo or chest tattoo.
2. Women’s Shoulder Tattoos
Image: @dietattoogesellschaft_mondsee via Instagram
Women’s tattoo design is moving on swiftly from the butterfly tattoo or rose shoulder tattoo that dominated in the 1960s and 1970s. While these themes are still implemented often, contemporary women’s body art flourishes in areas such as tiny tattoo or small shoulder tattoo designs, so your humble flower tattoo will now look unbelievably cool instead of dated and stereotypical.
The examples above show variety in placement and ideas, even for a more ‘regular design such as a top flower shoulder tattoo. The smaller shoulder blade tattoo of the bird done in single needle black and gray is an exquisite, delicate piece of body art, while the bright, neo traditional Fairy Tail anime shoulder tat looks awesome in brash, fully saturated color.
3. American Traditional Style
This is the male model style of utilizing traditional north American style motifs. All his works are old school pieces, with muted grays, reds and greens in the color scheme and emphasis on various individual images rather than a cohesive, linked scheme.
This tattoo is a new wave take on the classical American Bald Eagle.
While this effort is a more traditional expression of the recognizable symbol of USA. It’s the type of tattoo readily accompanied by a chopped hog motorcycle, sound system pumping the Boss, and a Harley Davidson bandana.
American traditional style body art flows well in shoulder tattoos, as they can achieve a variety of fills and designs around central ideas or be completely made up by them. Also, major shoulder pieces, such as a bold eagle tattoo or black and gray variation can work well operating along the top shoulder, or down on to the arm or chest.
3. Dragon Shoulder Tattoos
Wow. This is an exciting Chinese Dragon, rendered even more impressive by a unique choice of blue gray ink to create a solid color rather than shading you’d find with normal black or gray pigment. The color is accentuated by the single needle, crisp black lines of the scale and patterning of the dragon’s head.
This is the more traditional full dragon sleeve in the Irezumi style. The plating of scales is done by intense shading in black and gray, with the use of motifs such as cherry blossoms and waves to complement the sinuous serpent.
Shoulder tattoos design ideas can’t get much more hectic than a well-done dragon piece. The sinuous lines of the dragon’s body supported by scales and fangs take a front shoulder tattoo to the next level – the swirls, curls, and curves work brilliantly in stretching up from a simple chest tattoo idea to incorporate the bicep and sleeve, or along from collar to shoulder cap. Other associated images, clouds and wind in the Asian style or more mundane knightly images of European shoulder tattoos achieve brilliant results.
5.The Unique Shoulder Tattoo Idea
The neo classical elements of this piece are nicely drawn, with the font and bannering being well placed to draw the other parts of the image together. While the shading is important the ink is also helped by good use of not tattooing parts of the skin as well.
Trash Polka is developing renown by mixing a small color palette – black and red – with a mishmash of abstract ideas inside the one piece. This tattoo does just that, with the shading of the black being of most interest. It’s like only half the tattoo stencil was transferred in places and worked on by the artist.
An interesting all black take on a new wave tattoo, the piece uses the odd placement to create an arresting bit of work.
These tidy shoulder designs create a range of technical applications, which stretch up from an arm or bicep tattoo, or down from the top of the shoulder.
Biomechanical design melding the human flesh and bone with arcane machinery concepts look great – like the crafted replacement limb on a cyborg. Countering this idea is a cool shoulder tattoo incorporating deft use of paint splashes and watercolor to create an artistic canvas.
My favorite however of these men’s tattoos is the trash polka piece, that work in the shoulder area and chest to depict abstract, newsprint technical etching offset by slashes of text and patterns in red and black ink.
6. Japanese Influenced Shoulder Tattoo Ideas
This not quite finished artwork mixes a few different styles together, mainly fusing Japanese technique in the shade work with the realism of the hourglass. The pink of the blossoms is a deft touch, providing a change in element for the entire tattoo. It will be a unique custom piece when completed.
A Japanese themed shoulder tat is usually easy to spot – they feature tight design elements colored in flat panes with a central image – such as a koi fish, dragon, or flower tattoo – supported by closely linked and technically sharp associated design elements.
These examples show how useful the upper shoulder area is as a fulcrum to extending a piece all the way down the arm in a sleeve tattoo or staying contained to a shoulder cap and upper chest tattoo.
7. Neo Tribal and Geometric Shoulder Tattoos
This body art should have a buffering signal – it’s a major cover up job using flat black ink to replace an older tribal style tattoo. It will eventually cover most of the work, bar the Thai wording and some of the scale work. This type of reclamation project would be quite intense and uncomfortable in the application.
I like how these new school designs take the pattern and color elements of a tribal tattoo and then take it up a notch by applying the technical hallmarks and crafting vivid, over the top sleeves or full arm chest combinations.
Each tattoo artist in these examples has taken a fundamental art of tribal tattooing and then ran with it – either linking in black in and negative space or incorporating cool shoulder pattern from geometric tiling.
Personally, I love the negative space octopus tattoo perched along the shoulder top and stretching back to the shoulder, with the blade tattoo part made up of a mosaic of geometric tiles.
8. Winged Shoulder Tattoos
A confident, capable tattoo artist can craft a great winged shoulder tattoo design. It can be done stretching the feathers unfurled along the top of the shoulder and upper arm, or more traditionally as a wing tucked onto the left shoulder or right, as if they’ve been put away.
9. Tribal Shoulder Tattoo Designs
This is a classic Polynesian tribal piece that was likely done without the use of a tattoo gun, but likely traditional tattooing implements of stick and chisel.
Tribal tattoos are easily identifiable, especially when done well like this artwork. They feature elaborate and intricate blackwork of a crispness that other tattoo techniques really struggle to replicate.
A tribal shoulder tattoo is a big deal – culturally important links to family, tribe, and people, or representative of an important milestone in an individual’s life. These tribal tattoo design ideas show off the range across Polynesian peoples with great choices in Hawaiian, Polynesian Island tattoo, and NZ Ta Moko on display.
Shoulder Tattoo FAQs
How much does a shoulder tattoo cost?
Shoulder tattoo pricing, just like design, is versatile in catering for a range of budgets. A simple shoulder tattoo or shoulder blade tattoo etched in black and gray can be done for as little as $150-$200USD for an experienced tattoo artist.
A good-sized single needle shoulder tattoo, shoulder sleeve tattoo, or a larger piece incorporating the shoulder cap, upper bicep, and chest may cost in the range of $1000USD. A detailed Japanese style or intricate tribal tattoo can run to about $1500USD for 6-8 hours of
As always, at a contemporary tattoo shop the price per hour is key, 150 is standard for an experienced professional, while the best artists charge well north of $250 per hour. Also, be advised that a 15-20% tip is expected for good work across most tattoo shop set ups in the USA.
Do shoulder tattoos hurt?
Outside of the edge of the shoulder blade – if hit wrong with the tattoo needle it can feel like you’ve been nicked right on the bone – shoulder tattoos lie in the low range of the tattoo pain scale.
The flat part of the shoulder blade is often the site of first tattoo designs, as it’s a simple, reasonably pain free space that can cover or display a tattoo in different situations.
Did you enjoy these shoulder tattoos? Click on the links below for more galleries featuring kick ass first tattoo and new tattoo ideas.
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.