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Who doesn’t love a bare shoulder look in the summertime or for a night out on the town? Whatever your reason for going sleeveless, the perfect complement to your favorite top is a fantastic shoulder tattoo. More convenient and longer lasting than jewelry, a shoulder tattoo is an accessory you will never forget to put on or leave at home.
On the flip side, a shoulder tattoo is perfect placement if you need to easily cover your tattoo for work or another professional setting. While tattoos are becoming more socially acceptable, there are still some occasions where that fabulous dream catcher or your favorite song lyric might not be completely appropriate to have on display. Putting your tattoo on your shoulder means that you can show it when you want to, hide it when you don’t, and love it all the time.
Shoulder tattoos come in all different styles and designs, varying from feminine flower tattoos, intricate henna designs, delicate minimalist looks, and deeply personal messages. No matter the artwork, getting a shoulder tattoo is a great way to literally wear your heart on your sleeve.
The Best Shoulder Tattoos for Women
1) Perfect Peony
Flowers are full of representation and symbolism, and the peony is no exception. Standing for romance, compassion, and even bashfulness, a peony is a great tattoo alternative if you are tired of the standard rose. This flower shoulder tattoo fits perfectly within the space, and looks awesome in black and white. The lack of color allows the delicate lines of the design to sing, which means the whole flower is appreciated.
2) Front Shoulder Tattoo: Flowers on the Vine
A beautiful cascade of flowers makes this the perfect front shoulder tattoo. The simple black and white design starts in the back of the shoulder and comes over to the front. Using the different sizes of flowers as well as the intricate details makes this design.
3) Hanging off the Moon
Swathed in beads and gems, an Arabian-inspired moon is a gorgeous and sexy shoulder tattoo idea for women. Delicate line art allows for the curves and swirls of the piece to shine through. If you are a fan of henna, this tattoo also reflects some of the henna themes and designs.
4) Draped in Flowers
In this flower shoulder tattoo for women design, the blossoms fall casually over the skin as though the blooms really were sitting on her shoulder. The addition of the vine at the end of the tattoo elongates the piece and adds to its beauty. While this tattoo is stunning in black and white, adding white accents or tints of pink would work well if you prefer color.
5) Shoulder Blade Tattoo for Women: Flowered Mandala
With artwork inspired by mandalas, the flowers and circular patterns represent beauty and serenity. This shoulder blade tattoo shows balance of mind and soul, with the peony connecting to compassion. Using a tattoo stencil keeps the symmetry and perfection of each petal in the design.
6) Front Shoulder Tattoo for Women: Arrangement of Flowers
Flowers make a great tattoo idea, especially if you are looking for something symbolic. Among the flowers here, daisies show innocence and purity, ferns sincerity, and plumeria life. Combining those flowers together means trying to live a life of purity and a genuine nature. Beautiful in both look and meaning, this style of tattoo is idyllic.
7) Key to My Heart
A front shoulder tattoo idea full of romance, the highly decorative key and detailed rose combine to create a beautiful tattoo design. Decorative accents complete the look. Artistically, the bold lines outlining the design help to highlight the different parts of the tattoo, while the shading gives a sense of depth and realism.
8) Dragon of the East
Regarded as the “queen of flowers,” the Chinese rose makes a gorgeous shoulder tattoo idea for women. The addition of the Chinese dragon as a symbol of power brings together the idea that this woman is a mighty, regal force to be reckoned with. While the delicate details in this tattoo look great in black and white, adding a hint of color to this tattoo would also work well.
9) Capped Flower Shoulder Tattoo
Curving over the shoulder like a capped sleeve, the petals of the peony follow the arc of the shoulder accenting both the grace of the flower and of the women herself. The shading brings out the delicate lines of the petals and leaves as well as providing texture. Using a larger flower rounds out the tattoo and makes the effect.
10) Phoenix Arise
An amazing shoulder blade tattoo, the mythical phoenix represents rebirth and renewal. It is the perfect choice for someone who has gone through a personal trial and emerged stronger than before. Using different colors than the traditional phoenix gives the design a unique look.
11) Mother’s Love
A sweet shoulder tattoo idea for a new mom, this minimalist design is packed with significance and emotion. Using just the red for the heart not only provides a pop of color, but also emphasizes the feeling of love for her family. Any mother can immediately relate to the meaning of this tattoo.
12) Creeping Vines
Another stylish peony tattoo, this shoulder tattoo uses vines to extend the design and add movement. This look also uses bolder outlines to emphasize the progression of the vines from the front of the shoulder to the back. Simple and clean in black and white, this design would be cool in color as well.
13) Illustrated Peony
An art style reminiscent of a book illustration, the tattoo in this instance falls to the front rather than to the back. Using different shades of gray adds depth and highlights the illustrated look. The placement of the smaller flower also gives the design a sexy feel.
14) Henna Dream-Catcher
A great shoulder tattoo idea for women looking to use a tattoo stencil, the combination of henna and dream-catcher hits on two creative trends in tattoos. The intricacy of this design means you will see something different every time you look at the tattoo. This piece allows the artist some creativity, using the dream-catcher shape as a base and filling it with whatever henna designs you like.
15) Rose Shoulder Tattoo
One of the most popular flower shoulder tattoos for women is the simple rose. In this case, the plain black and white rose is a good contrast to the bright colors of the other tattoos in the collection. A shoulder tattoo is perfect on its own, or as part of a larger piece.
16) Bird in Flight
A mix of flowers and soaring bird, this gorgeous tattoo starts on the back and comes forward, almost as if the bird is flying over the shoulder. Using white accents provides highlights and brightness to the design. Conversely, the bold outlines gives the tattoo a striking look. The piece is complete with the details in the feathers, leaves, and flower petals.
17) Small Shoulder Tattoo: Butterfly
If you favor a smaller tattoo, an ideal design is this intricate butterfly. Small details and one color may seem simple, but still makes a statement. Having a small shoulder tattoo is also preferable if you need something that can be easily hidden or covered.
18) Painted Roses
Looking as though they were airbrushed directly on the skin, these bright and dynamic rose make and excellent front shoulder tattoo for women. Deep pinks and greens draw the eye, and the shading makes the artwork more impressive. The same look would also be fantastic with different colored roses, depending on your taste and preference.
19) Flower Shoulder Tattoos for Women: Sunflower
The sunflower almost seems alive in this back shoulder tattoo. As in real life, the face of the sunflower is turned and seeking the sun. Bold lines make the design stand out and provide realistic texture. Sunflowers are a fun and quirky alternative to roses as they represent adoration and loyalty.
20) Cluster of Flowers
Wrapping around the shoulder, this flower cluster brings together different blooms to form an eclectic bunch. Beautiful in black and white, shading brings realism to the piece. The movement of the vine and smaller bud accents complete the design. This tattoo is perfect if you favor a strapless look.
21) Trio of Roses
If you are a fan of Beauty and the Beast, these flowers may make you think of the iconic Disney film. While the roses are in a painted style, the artwork is reminiscent of animation rather than a formal painting. The stylized look of the roses completes the feeling. Fun and feminine, this is a great shoulder tattoo idea for women.
22) Subtle Sunflower, Personal Message
Using colors that complement the skin tone, this sunflower design is a beautiful tattoo that takes on a more subtle look. It’s the small details here that make this style, from the streaks of brown in the petals to the small textured dots of pollen in the head of the flower. We’ll Be Alright is a bittersweet sentiment that could carry a variety of meanings, but also shows where you could place a different phrase of your own.
23) Queen of the Pride
This shoulder tattoo idea for women incorporates several themes into one gorgeous piece. The tattoo stencil style for the lioness’ head insures balance and proportion throughout the design. Curves and symmetry evokes the qualities of a mandala, while the draped beads and gems have a more Middle Eastern feel. Including the roses as a frame for the lioness brings another reference of beauty and grace. Finally, the dazzling blue eyes and gems add a bright touch of color as well as emotion.
24) Rose Goddess
A design that uses a classical painting style gives this shoulder tattoo an elegant flavor. Expert shading and gray tones provide a sense of realism and character to the piece. While the figure here has the appearance of a Greek goddess, any person would work within the design. It is about the art style rather than the subject when it comes to this tattoo.
25) Born to Ride
Horses are a symbol of free spirits, so it is easy to see how a horse could be a popular shoulder tattoo idea for women. Especially if you long to travel and experience a sense of self-determination, you might feel in touch with this graceful creature. In this shoulder tattoo, the soft curves of the horse’s face and neck are accented with detailed shading. It almost seems alive with its mane blowing in the breeze and the expression on its face.
26) Flower Tattoos for Women: Matching Set
Chinese roses and ferns form this stunning set of shoulder tattoos. Especially if you prefer to keep your shoulders bare, a set of tattoos makes twice the impact. The curse of the ferns and flowers fit perfectly within the curves of the shoulder and collarbone, clearly expertly placed by the tattoo artist. Using bold outlines and minimal shading heightens the whole effect of the piece.
27) Colored Dream-catcher
Designed to catch the bad dreams so that you only experience the good, dream-catchers are an important part of Native American culture. The swirls and beads in this particular dream-catcher design add fun details and break up the piece. Including splashes of color rather than just filling in the tattoo gives a sense of fun and whimsy that fits well with the dream theme. Overall, this is a great back shoulder tattoo idea.
28) Back Shoulder Tattoos for Women: Elephant
Whatever your favorite animal, you can make it into a fabulous tattoo. Here we see an elephant, striking with bold outlines, perfectly situated on the back of the shoulder. Elephants represent wisdom and loyalty, to excellent qualities for anyone to aspire to have. The size and placement of this tattoo also make it easy to cover if the situation requires.
29) Japanese Flower Shoulder Tattoo
Japanese cherry blossoms are among the most gorgeous flowers, representing the fragility and beauty of life. The Japanese believe that the cherry blossom, with its short blooming season, shows how life is both beautiful and fleeting. The delicate pink of the blossoms makes coupled with the bittersweet meaning makes this design truly one of a kind.
30) Pink Lilies
Symbolizing compassion and femininity, pink lilies are a perfect addition to “garden” of flower tattoos. The deep colors and playful design of this tattoo work well as part of a larger set, but also would look nice as a standalone piece. While this tattoo placement is the back of the shoulder, this design would also work on the side or front.
31) Henna Flower Tattoo
Another cool shoulder tattoo idea for women, combining a flower tattoo and henna design makes for a unique and trendy look. The fine, dark lines make the tattoo stand out, while white highlights provide contrast. This is also a great time to use a tattoo stencil in order to get every part of the design perfect.
32) Back Shoulder Tattoos for Women: In the Garden
A sign of friendship and warmth, this gorgeous yellow rose is the perfect contrast to the cool lavender butterfly. The style of the rose has a natural look without any black outlines. It appears as though it was plucked from the garden and placed on the skin. Either of these tattoos would work as their own small shoulder tattoos as well.
33) Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Beautiful, sexy, and sophisticated, Audrey Hepburn is an excellent subject of any art piece, including tattoos. This particular design finds inspiration in the iconic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, one of Hepburn’s most famous movies. The deep colors and the shading accent Hepburn’s features and emphasize her sexy look.
34) Small Shoulder Tattoos for Women: Minimalist Cat
Minimalism is on trend right now, and the tattoo world is no exception. Simple line designs are particularly popular, as it is easy to take any image and replicate it in this style. In this case, a lovable and inquisitive cat is the star of the show. Complete with beautiful script writing, this cute tattoo has a sweet and simple look. The best part about this design is that you can personalize it however you want.
35) Warbler on the Moon
A fun way to bring whimsy to the typical flower shoulder tattoo is to include different individual elements. In this design, a crescent moon and a warbler add a cool personal touch. Warblers connect to socialization and friendship, so including them in the tattoo can show your own relationships and connection. With so many images, black and white makes the design more effective rather than the busyness of too many colors.
36) Piece of My Heart
Another minimalist look, a simple heart outline is a versatile design that is ideal for someone looking for something small and straightforward. Kancho is the focus of this particular tattoo, however you could fill in the heart whatever way you would like. Whether you use your kids’ names, a spouse, or even a beloved pet, the heart conveys that simple message of I love you. Would be a great matching sister tattoo idea as well.
37) Monarch Butterfly
One of the most popular butterfly choices, the bright orange color of the monarch stands out against the deepness of the black. The natural contrast of these colors draw the eye, and the symmetry makes the whole effect pleasing. Perfect for someone looking for a delicate and small shoulder tattoo idea.
38) Fox in the Garden
Symbolizing the ability to think quickly and respond well in tricky situations, a fox tattoo is both cute and meaningful. The art style in this case shows the sweet nature of the fox more prominently, the bright orange color a fun complement to the pastels of the flower. While this makes a sweet back shoulder tattoo, this design would work well on the thigh as well.
39) Swirling Vines Front Shoulder Tattoo
Bold, black vines make a statement in this fun and pretty shoulder tattoo. The swirling of the vines provides movement, as well as travelling the tattoo around the shoulder. A personal message fits in well with the movement of the vines and makes the tattoo more meaningful to its owner.
40) Floral Music
Another minimalist look, this design uses simple shapes and lines to create a whimsical shoulder tattoo. The music notes add another cool touch. For someone who is a fan of a simple tattoo look, this would be the perfect flower shoulder tattoo idea.
41) Screech Owl
Considered a creature of wisdom, an owl shows knowledge and prowess. This particular owl seem to be smirking, as though it knows something the rest of us don’t. In spite of the realist colors, the personality of this bird of prey makes the whole piece more interesting.
42) Flower Shoulder Tattoos for Women: You and Me
From the bright colors to the personal details, this flower shoulder tattoo is one of a kind. The simple lines of the flowers and the vines gives the artist and the owner a chance to make their own choices about the tattoo look. You could easily take this design to your tattoo artist and play around with it to make it your own.
43) You Hold My Heart
For those who favor a darker look, this back shoulder tattoo uses Gothic themes as well as delicate details. From the use of red as the only color, to the anatomical heart, to the thorns ringing the design, this piece incorporates popular spooky symbols. This tattoo would also be a good opportunity to use a tattoo stencil to get all aspects of the design just right.
44) Back Shoulder Tattoo: Hippopotamus
Hippos represent a state of calm and courage in the face of strife. A charging hippo, as seen here, is one of the most powerful animal forces in the world. The might of this great beast is emphasized by the shading and white highlights of the design. Using a painted style, the tattoo takes on a life of its own.
45) Complementing Flower Shoulder Tattoos
While these two tattoos are not the same exact design, the set of flowering tattoos work well together. The shape of the flowers and flow of the vines are similar enough to complement, but different enough to tell they are not the same design. Using the shading adds depth to the petals and interest to the overall look.
46) Dahlia Symbols
A different type of matching shoulder tattoos, the symbols travel down the shoulder to the arm. Using the same flower and ending design make the tattoos a set, but the different symbols still make the two tattoos unique. The delicate lines of the piece add a sense of femininity and refinement.
47) Springtime Stag
A stag is considered to be the king of the forest and protector of its creatures. Here, this majestic buck is decked with beautiful forest flowers, almost as if it was his crown. Using softer tones emphasizes the feeling of spring. The butterflies add another pop of color to the design.
48) Mandala Tattoo Stencil
When doing a mandala-inspired design, a tattoo stencil is the way to go. A stencil insures that symmetry is maintained throughout the piece as well as protecting the integrity of the artwork. Mandalas are known for tiny details and smoothness of the elements, and this tattoo captures the essence of that perfectly.
49) Everything but the Kitchen Sink
Do you have several different tattoo ideas, but you can’t decide between them? Don’t! Have a conversation with your tattoo artist about the different elements you would like to include in your shoulder tattoo, and work together to create a design that is unique to you. The best tattoos are the ones that have personal meaning, and combining several elements together will insure that sense of individuality in your design.
50) Flower Shoulder Tattoos for Women: Elegant Rose
Several art techniques come together to form this fantastic rose. The petals have a darker outline with delicate pink shading for the color. On the other hand, the leaves have deep shading rather than using color to create a strong background for the flower itself. Pink roses have an association with romance and flirtation, and this tattoo captures those themes.
51) Front Shoulder Tattoos for Women: Script Writing
Whatever message you want to convey with your shoulder tattoo, sometimes it is easiest just to come out and say it. The placement of the message in this case follows the line of the collarbone, which gives a natural feel. No matter what you want to write, using a delicate script font gives beauty and refinement to your tattoo.
52) Classic Roses
While this tattoo has several elements that are similar to a traditional rose tattoo, it is the choices with the shading that make it stand out. Rather than using any colors, the dark black rose makes for a striking design while still maintaining the beauty of the rose. Using the same type of shading for the leaves provides consistency through the piece.
53) White Flower Shoulder Tattoos for Women
Keeping the flowers white in this design provides contrast to the dark shading and bold lines of the leaves. Placing the larger flower on top of the shoulder provides a focal point, while cascading flowers add length and interest. The overall style is reminiscent of Japanese artwork, popular in flower tattoo designs.
54) Flowering Mandala
This shoulder tattoo combines the mandala look with a traditional flower tattoo. Combining tattoo trends and art styles is a big part of the tattoo community. Making the shading and lines in the mandala darker and bold contrasts nicely with the white flower.
55) Chinese Rose Tattoo Set
Beautiful Chinese roses make a fabulous tattoo set. As if the flowers were colored with shades of gray, the painted design would make anyone want to leave their shoulders bare to show off these tattoos. While the darker tones fit with the model’s Gothic vibe, the same tattoos could be lightened with color depending on your preference.
56) White Anemones Shoulder Tattoos
Representing death, white anemones are a beautiful way to pay respects to someone you have lost. In this tattoo design, the white and black flowers go well with the delicate vines to create a cohesive piece. Doing this tattoo as a matching set is a fun way to take the look to a new level.
57) Bright Blue Flowers on the Vine
This flower shoulder tattoo idea is all about the colors. Leaving off the black outlines makes the flowers look more realistic, while the color choice allows the tattoo to pop. While the bright blue is fabulous, you can choose whatever color you would like for your flowers.
58) Ring of Beauty
A simple flower tattoo idea, using the ring shape provides interest and draws the eye. This design is a unique take on a shoulder tattoo idea, while the deep colors provide cohesion. A great way to take a common design and make it your own.
59) Life Goes On
Truly inspiring, the clock design is a perfect pairing to the everyday life scenes that surround it. The piece reminds us that life is constantly moving forward, as is time, and we need to take advantage of every moment. Using silhouettes in this case makes the whole piece.
60) Airbrush Mandala
A reverse to a typical mandala look, the symmetry and simple geometric shapes make this design. The use of an airbrushed style gives the tattoo texture rather than just using plain black. Both effects combine to make a light tattoo design with a stunning impact.
61) Raspberry Vines
Adding fruit switches up a typical flower shoulder tattoo idea. In this instance, raspberries are a cute complement to the small flowers hanging off the vine. The lines and shading are expertly done, giving the simple tattoo an elegant look.
62) Splashes of Color
Simple and effective, this tattoo looks as though someone literally sprayed color onto her back. However, the colors are suggestive of the Northern Lights, a phenomenon of natural beauty. Much in the same way, this tattoo reminds us that something does not have to be complex to be beautiful.
There are many reasons someone might choose Earth as a back shoulder tattoo. Perhaps you value environmental conservation, or you are into marine wildlife, or you want to go into space. No matter the reason, it rings true that this plant is home to us all. The idea of home is accentuated here with the continents as the point of emphasis in the design.
64) Stalks of Bamboo
Another natural look, bamboo is evocative both of Chinese culture and simple design techniques. This tattoo has a brushstroke quality that fits with the theme of Chinese artwork. Additionally, the curve of the plants moves with the curve of the back, making the whole piece look more natural.
65) Spring Robin
Robins are symbols of renewal and refreshment as well as new beginnings. All of those themes fit with the idea of springtime, the season of fresh starts. The bright pink of the flowers continues that spring theme. If you are a lover of this bright season, this might be the perfect back shoulder tattoo for you.
Shoulder tattoos are a great starting place for anyone looking to get their first tattoo, as they provide a decently large space and are typically less painful. They also prove to be a blank canvas for whatever you wish to create, whether it be a smaller design or something more intricate. The possibilities are endless, limited only by your imagination and personal inspiration. No matter your style, there is a shoulder tattoo idea for you.