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Tattoo placement

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A thread in which we can discuss where to put a certain tattoo and why it works or is better than other placement. I'm new to this and find this fascinating as I have no eye for tattoo placement and looking to get better at it. Thanks!

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Placement is, in my opinion, the hardest thing about tattoos to understand, and it is also often the factor that distinguishes good tattoos from great tattoos. This probably isn't the most satisfying answer, but I think to really understand placement you need to look at real tattoos on people because pictures, especially the tightly cropped Instagram photos that make up most of what we look at these days, really give no sense of placement. Half the time you can't even tell what body part they're on.

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Something a tattooer told me that I wish I'd known from the start: get the big pieces first.

Why is that? I'm kind of working on my way up from small piece to bigger ones...am I doing it wrong?

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Placement is, in my opinion, the hardest thing about tattoos to understand, and it is also often the factor that distinguishes good tattoos from great tattoos. This probably isn't the most satisfying answer, but I think to really understand placement you need to look at real tattoos on people because pictures, especially the tightly cropped Instagram photos that make up most of what we look at these days, really give no sense of placement. Half the time you can't even tell what body part they're on.

Exactly! I wish to gain more insight into this but no idea how..hence this thread..

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I lucked out in waiting until later in life to start getting tattoos and started with larger pieces first, with a consideration in placement for future tattoos. My artist said that she wished she had thought ahead in the placement of her tattoos, both in skin real estate availability and overall theme of tattoos in one area.

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I am looking to get a palm to hand sized piece done soon. My right arm is empty except for a smaller piece on the inside of my bicep. Thinking about starting a collection of hand sized tattoos on that arm. Anyone have advice how to plan groupings of smaller tattoos? Or does anyone have a sleeve of this style who can offer some advice?

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@Greg Greg I think the best way to achieve the traditional kinda hodgepodge look is starting with the bigger pieces (inside/outside bicep, wrist/forearm) and then filling in around them. Once my newest tattoo heals up I'll try to get some pictures of the whole arm together to show what I mean. Stacking looks rad to me too if you want more smaller tattoos fit in.

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What you you guys say is the quintessential "big piece" areas? I find myself having allot of ideas for tattoos, (Like rose of no mans land, scorpions, lamb heads, etc) but don't know where they would go. Right now I have the top of my shoulder, one side of my forearm, one on my calve muscle and one of my collar bone, all fairly medium sized, maybe hand sized. Are there any places that I should get out of the way first?

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I just mentioned those 4 sides of the arms because they're the biggest unbroken pieces of skin on the arm, and I think it's easier to fit small images around big ones instead of the other way around. I'm just kinda sharing what worked for me, and of course I am biased but am pretty happy with the way it's wrapping up, the cool thing about tattooing though is you can do it however you want (within reason of course) and as long as you get solid tattoos it should look pretty damn cool.

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What you you guys say is the quintessential "big piece" areas?

FULL BODY!! not too many clients commit this way and not too many artists get the opportunity, but i'm sure those that do love it.

  • back
  • full front
  • -- chest
  • -- stomach
  • sides. you can go huge... from under your armpit to your foot, but i think most split it up to these other big piece spots:
  • -- rib piece
  • -- side thigh piece
  • -- side calf piece
  • shin
  • back of thigh
  • top of thigh

Are there any places that I should get out of the way first?

it all depends on you! all of the pieces you mentioned can be as small as a Ben Grillo dime piece or as big as a full back.

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Hello, interesting question because I made a forearm and I am taking to get used to , it's really very difficult because it is a big job and a big change too, the work was very well done , although I'm still getting used to it .. . I will make a post about it soon, I hope we can discuss more !! Look at some photos ... ( Sorry for English , Brazillian guy)

https://goo.gl/photos/veYEzXrpAbneLZ3S6

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I want a tree tattoo. Not the size of a quarter, a BIG tree. I'd like to have roots near my ankle and onto my foot, the trunk outside calf/thigh, and a very cool canopy on front/side/back thigh.

What I'm wondering is what I can tattoo on the bare areas of that leg once I get said tree. Would I have to give up all that real estate to accommodate the tree?

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Hello, interesting question because I made a forearm and I am taking to get used to , it's really very difficult because it is a big job and a big change too, the work was very well done , although I'm still getting used to it .. . I will make a post about it soon, I hope we can discuss more !! Look at some photos ... ( Sorry for English , Brazillian guy)

https://goo.gl/photos/veYEzXrpAbneLZ3S6

Hey buddy. You are the guy whose worried that your lighthouse looks like a penis aren't you?!

Was it your first tattoo? For me, I'm waiting to get visable tattoos until I know for sure I'm happy to do so. I also think the quality of your lighthouse isn't that great. Sorry! I don't think the colours look good...

Anyway, placement for me is very important. Some artists are better than others and when they get it right, a simple tattoo can look the bees knees!

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Hello, interesting question because I made a forearm and I am taking to get used to , it's really very difficult because it is a big job and a big change too, the work was very well done , although I'm still getting used to it .. . I will make a post about it soon, I hope we can discuss more !! Look at some photos ... ( Sorry for English , Brazillian guy)

https://goo.gl/photos/veYEzXrpAbneLZ3S6

First of all, right off the bat, that tattoo does not look like a penis. Unless your penis looks like a lighthouse, in which case you have bigger problems.

But seriously you have to let it go man, its a big bold tattoo that is going to be on you for the rest of your life, you have to make your peace with it. I used to be like you when I started getting tattooed, obsessing about whether it looked right or whether this or that part of it could be improved or whatever. But the fact is that kind of thinking leads to madness, if you ask anyone with any significant collection they will have work on them that they wouldn't necessarily get today- but in the end its all part of it.

I think its a cool lighthouse, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the colours. Wear it with pride and stop torturing yourself by continually asking people what they think of it.

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I want a tree tattoo. Not the size of a quarter, a BIG tree. I'd like to have roots near my ankle and onto my foot, the trunk outside calf/thigh, and a very cool canopy on front/side/back thigh.

What I'm wondering is what I can tattoo on the bare areas of that leg once I get said tree. Would I have to give up all that real estate to accommodate the tree?

That is a cool idea, but I'm not seeing how it could work unless taking up both legs. Bark would be very hard to read in a tattoo. So much ink with so little interest unless there are initials carved in and lots of knots (not like the ones my veins have already provided!) Maybe you can talk to an artist that comes up with an awesome idea and design.

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That is a cool idea, but I'm not seeing how it could work unless taking up both legs. Bark would be very hard to read in a tattoo. So much ink with so little interest unless there are initials carved in and lots of knots (not like the ones my veins have already provided!) Maybe you can talk to an artist that comes up with an awesome idea and design.

Thank you, I also was wondering what would be feasible. Calf is a lot less real estate than thigh, however roots at knee with canopy at hip screams bonsai tree to me. Hmmmm, maybe another plan foiled. . .

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Sorry to dig up an old thread, but I have a related question.

In general, do you guys trust your artist to place the stencil where they think the tattoo will look best (once you've given the general direction of "right forearm" or "left bicep" or whatever?  How often do you have the artist reposition the stencil after it's been placed?

I tend to take the approach of just trusting that my artist knows what they're doing and what will look good/"right" better than I do.  At the same time, it's your body and you're the one that will have to live with the placement.  So how do you guys decide on placement, especially if you're building a "sleeve" (or at least a collection of pieces in the same area on the body)?

 

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@tertia Unless you have a very specific idea of where it should be I think you should always trust your artist. That is, as long as you have a rapport and trust him/her generally, then they should know best.

For me, because I get traditional Japanese, I literally said, I'd like a Jikokuten backpiece, or, I'd like a minogame with momiji and waves. My artist had like three very general questions, and that was that. You give yourself over to the artist.

So, considering your question, I'd say again, as long as you trust them, it's their call.

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I've asked to have stencils moved before. I did not, with my second tattoo, and the placement of it is not exactly what I wanted. All of the tattoos that followed on my left leg are shifted off to the left a bit because of the placement of that one tattoo. Lesson learned! That's the only time you get to move it if you don't like it.

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