For the uninitiated, deciding upon a first tattoo can be a daunting task. However, when the piece is properly researched and the concept is solid, the anxiety of a first tattoo quickly turns into excitement. This article offers some simple pieces that won’t require much time in the chair, but still contain strong imagery and remarkable artistry. Thanks for reading and be sure to drop your opinion in the comments!
Black Arm Bands
Two blacked out arm bands wrap horizontally around the wearer’s forearm directly underneath the wearer’s elbow. While the design is simple a tattoo that requires full coverage of black ink will be an intense experience for a first timer.
Nighttime Landscape Arm Band
This imaginative twist on an arm band depicts a landscape with rows of pine trees in the foreground while the moon gleams in the background. Notice how sparse the sky’s shading is to create contrast between the different elements of the piece.
Quality Control Color Dots
Anyone who has worked in the printing or manufacturing industry will most likely recognize these dots as a form of quality control. Dots will typically be located somewhere on packaging as a means of ensuring that the colors are uniform throughout the entire production run. Here, we see those dots rendered on the wearer’s foot in front of the Achilles Heel.
Flying Bird Silhouettes
Small black silhouettes of birds in flight are depicted on the wearer’s wrists in this matching tattoo set. When contemplating the placement of your first tattoo it’s important to consider that the more visible your tattoo is, the more often you will be asked about them.
Winged Circle Wrist Piece
This minimalist tattoo, depicted on the wearer’s wrist in black ink, pictures a circle flanked by a pair of stylized wings.
Red and Blue Lightning Bolt
A red lightning bolt with a blue shadow is depicted in this vibrant tattoo located on the wearer’s wrist.
King and Queen Chess Pieces Tattoo Set
These tattoos, rendered in black and gray, show a king chess piece on the back of the male wearer’s forearm and a queen chess piece on the back of the female wearer’s forearm.
Musical Staff Heart
This black tattoo, located on the ring finger of the wearer’s left hand, creates a heart using musical symbols including a musical staff. Given the limited space available for a finger tattoo it’s best to keep the designs simple.
Mary Poppins Silhouette
This tattoo, located behind the wearer’s right ear, depicts a silhouette of Mary Poppins ascending into the sky with her magical umbrella.
Rocket Ship and Ringed Planet Finger Tattoos
These black and gray tattoos, located on the wearer’s fingers, picture a rocket ship flying upwards towards a ringed planet.
Love Yourself Quote and Arrow
The quote, “Love yourself,” is inked in black cursive font on bicep of the wearer’s right arm. Underneath the quote an arrow is pictured with a heart in the middle of the shaft.
8-Bit Ash and Pikachu
The famous 8-bit depictions of Ash and Pikachu of the Pokemon franchise are pictured on the inside of the wearer’s left leg just above the ankle bone. This tattoo is a familiar sight to anyone that has played the Gameboy Color versions of the Pokemon games.
Black and Gray Mandala
An intricate black and gray mandala is pictured on the front side of the wearer’s left bicep in this tattoo.
Black Superman Symbol
A Superman symbol is rendered in black ink on the wearer’s bicep in this somewhat cliche tattoo.
Series of Birthday Tattoos
Three birthdays including, 08.09.92, 11.01.95, and 08.08.99 are inked onto the wearer’s back directly beneath the base of the wearer’s neck.
Diamond Wrist Tattoo
A simple diamond design is rendered on the wearer’s wrist in black ink in this tattoo.
Black Keyhole Neck Tattoo
This obscure tattoo illustrates a black keyhole on the back of the wearer’s neck. Neck tattoos tend to be more practical for women or people with long hair because the piece will be covered by the hair when the wearer doesn’t want the ink to be seen.
Three Black Dots above the Fingernail
Three small black dots are located on the wearer’s left ring finger just above the wearer’s finger nail.
Black and Gray Origami Boat
An origami boat riding a cresting wave is rendered in black and gray ink on the wearer’s right forearm. This otherwise simple tattoo utilizes skillful shading to add depth and character to the piece.
Heart Shaped Dog
A dog is created using a thin black line that wraps into the shape of a heart. A smaller heart is pictured inside of the main image and the tattoo is located on the inside of the wearer’s leg just above the ankle bone.
Stylized Pokeball Arm Tattoo
This minimalist tattoo creates the outline of a pokeball from the Pokemon franchise in black ink on the wearer’s arm.
Script Quote and Geometric Shapes
An illegible quote is written in a black script font that wraps around the wearer’s ribs while a series of geometric shapes including a triangle, circle, and single line adorn the wearer’s left forearm.
Black and Gray Ship
A simplified depiction of a sail ship is rendered on the back of the wearer’s neck in black and gray ink in this tattoo.
Lotus Flower with Stem
This simple tattoo, depicted on the wearer’s left foot between the heel and ankle bone, pictures a lotus flower with a scrolled stem using bold line-work.
Dad with Heart
The word, “Dad,” is written in a black cursive font on the wearer’s wrist while a heart wraps around the end of the word.
This black and gray tattoo, pictured on the wearer’s left forearm, depicts a pair of crossed branches.
1991 and Buck Chest Piece
The year 1991 is rendered in black ink at the base of the wearer’s neck while the silhouette of a buck is seen peering over the wearer’s neckline.
Breathe. Wrist Tattoo
The word, “Breathe.” is inked onto the wearer’s wrist in a minimalist black font. Notice how the word is positioned so that it is readable to the wearer and not onlookers.
King and Queen of Hearts
The symbol for the king of hearts is inked onto the male wearer’s ring finger while the symbol of the queen of hearts is inked onto the female wearer’s ring finger. Both pieces are depicted in red ink.
Square with Protruding Lines
A black square with protruding lines is pictured on the heel of the wearer’s left foot.
Ampersand Forearm Tattoo
A black ampersand is depicted on the wearer’s forearm in black ink in this piece.
Rolling Pin and Wooden Spoon
A perfect tattoo for those inclined to the culinary arts. In this piece we see a wooden spoon and rolling pin rendered on the wearer’s bicep in black and gray ink.
Three Black Rectangles
Three blacked out rectangles are inked at the base of the wearer’s neck and run vertically along the wearer’s spine in this tattoo.
Bird of Prey Silhouette
The silhouette of a falcon is rendered in black ink on the wearer’s wrist in this tattoo.
Black and Gray Claymore Sword
A claymore sword, a popular historical weapon, is pictured on the wearer’s forearm in black and gray ink in this tattoo.
A blacked out pair of disembodied antlers is rendered on the wearer’s forearm in this simplistic tattoo.
Ringed Planet Surrounded by Stars
This black and gray tattoo, depicted on the wearer’s left forearm, shows a ringed planet surrounded by three black stars.
Lotus Flower or Marijuana Leaf
For the clandestine stoner. This black tattoo, pictured on the wearer’s forearm, shows a simplified flower with seven petals that could be interpreted as a lotus flower or a male Marijuana leaf.
A perfect tattoo for avid hunters or appreciators of the majestic White Tail Deer. This tattoo depicts a black silhouette of a buck on the wearer’s right shin.
For the love of photography! This tattoo depicts a minimalist outline of a camera in black ink.
A heart is comprised of black fingerprints in this imaginative tattoo depicted on the left side of the wearer’s rib cage. This is a great way to personalize an otherwise cliche image.
An Ode to David Bowie
This tattoo renders an outline of David Bowie’s head with his trademark red and blue lightning bolt scrawled on his face. The piece utilizes black ink for the outline and colors for the lightning bolt and is located on the back of the wearer’s left arm just above the wearer’s elbow.
Abstract Bear Outline
An abstract interpretation of a bear uses looping lines to create the outline of the creature on the wearer’s forearm in black ink.
So it Goes
The quote, “So it goes,” popularized by Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse Five is inked onto the wearer’s forearm in black script font.
A copyright symbol is pictured next to the year 1981 in this tattoo that represents a creative way to commemorate one’s birth year.
Honeycomb Forearm Piece
A blacked out honeycomb pattern adorns the wearer’s forearm in this simple tattoo.
Black Rectangle Running Along the Achilles Heel
A black rectangle runs along the wearer’s Achilles heel in this unimaginative tattoo.
Adventure. Forearm Tattoo
The word, “Adventure.” is inked onto the wearer’s forearm in black ink in this simple quote tattoo.
Black Flower Hand Tattoo
A simplified rendering of a black flower is illustrated on the outside of the wearer’s right hand.
Elephant Playing a Piano
A cartoon elephant plays a red piano while musical notes drift through the air in this adorable tattoo rendered on the top of the wearer’s left foot.
Man Casting a Shadow while Staring at the Sunset
The silhouette of a man staring at a sunset casts a shadow behind himself in this black and gray tattoo rendered on the wearer’s chest.
Free Wrist Tattoo
The word, “Free,” is depicted in a black script font on the wearers’ wrist in this tattoo.
A black of silhouette of a jumbo jet is rendered on the wearers’ forearm in this tattoo appropriately pictured from the inside of a plane.
Just Press Play wrist Tattoo
A rewind, pause, play, fast forward, and shuffle symbol are rendered on the wearer’s wrist in black ink in this tattoo that pays homage to media technology.
Cross Thumb Tattoo
A blacked out cross is pictured on the wearer’s thumb in this tattoo.
Incandescent Light Bulb
An appropriate tattoo for appreciators of Thomas Edison, the ingenuity of mankind, or artificial light. This tattoo depicts an incandescent light bulb on the calf of the wearer’s right leg in black ink.
A triangle surrounds a circle while a line runs through the center of both shapes in this black tattoo located on the back of the wearer’s neck.
Who doesn’t appreciate a beautiful potted cactus. I for one appreciate the thrill of knowing I’m one clumsy mistake away from experience an agonizing exchange of needles with my houseplants. This tattoo depicts a potted cactus in black and gray ink on the wearer’s right arm.
Three Arrows Thumb Tattoo
Three black arrows are inked between the first and second knuckle of the wearer’s right hand in this simplistic tattoo.
Rooted Two Stem Plant
This quirky tattoo, perfect for botanists, depicts a rooted plant with two stems on the inside of the wearer’s right leg just above the ankle bone in black ink.
A blacked out silhouette of a sparrow is pictured on the back right side of the wearer’s neck in this reiteration of the popular subject.
A simplistic skyline uses the outlines of the Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, a Ferris Wheel, and Big Ben while a heart finishes off sits to the far right of the piece. This tattoo is a creative way to depict otherwise massive subjects in a pared down version.
Mountaintop Rib Piece
The craggy peak of a mountain top is created using black line work and is pictured on the left side of the wearer’s rib cage in this tattoo.
Let it be
The title of what is arguably The Beatles most popular song, “Let it be,” is scribed in the center of the wearer’s back in black ink for this tattoo.
Overlapping Triangles with Watercolor Smear
Overlapping triangles are created using black outlines while a blue and gray smear of watercolors carries throughout the piece. The tattoo is located on the wearer’s left forearm just below the elbow.
A pine tree is created using black ink and is tattooed onto the wearer’s right wrist.
A black seashell is pictured on the wearer’s foot just in front of the heel.
A cresting wave is rendered in black ink on the wearer’s forearm in this tattoo.
The silhouette of two wildflowers is depicted in black ink near the wearer’s right hip in this tattoo.
A half black, half white crescent moon is inked onto the wearer’s rib cage in this piece.
Five Black Dots
Five black dots are inked into the underside of the wearer’s forearm.
A simplified rendition of a wave is created using black ink on the wearer’s right foot in front of the heel.
Black Rectangle Outline
A black outline of a rectangle is pictured on the wearer’s forearm in this unimaginative tattoo.
X-Wing and Tie Fighter
Hyper-simplified renderings of the iconic X-Wing and Tie Fighter from the Star Wars franchise are rendered on the underside of the wearer’s hands in this tattoo.
A small green leaf is inked onto the wearer’s shin in this tattoo.
A power symbol is pictured on the wearer’s wrist in black ink in this tattoo.
Bird on a Wire
The silhouette of a bird perched upon a wire is rendered on the wearer’s wrist in black ink.
A matching set of black triangles with a line running horizontally through their centers are shown on the underside of the wearer’s forearms.
A black wedding band is embellished with the letter R and a line that runs through the middle of the band.
Ring Finger Arrow
A black arrow is depicted on the wearer’s ring finger in this simple tattoo.
I don’t what would possess someone to have a coat hanger tattooed on the back of their neck. Maybe, they’re an heir to a dry cleaning fortune? Regardless, this woman has a coat hanger tattooed on the back of her neck in black ink.
Tree, Wave, and Mountain
Simplified renditions of a pine tree, cresting wave, and mountaintop are rendered on the wearer’s foot in black ink.
Half of an anchor is created using a swirling black line in this tattoo pictured on the wearer’s forearm.
Sparrow in Flight
A colorful sparrow is depicted mid-flight on the wearer’s left hand in this tattoo.
A black anchor with a rope wrapped around it is pictured on the wearer’s thumb in this tattoo of the popular image.
Branch with Leaves
This black tattoo, inked on the left side of the wearer’s chest, shows a branch with seven leaves. The leaves are accented with bold lines that imitate the ribs of the natural subject.
Three quarters of a circle are rendered on the wearer’s wrist in black ink in this tattoo.
Three Sparrow Silhouettes
The black silhouettes of three sparrows in flight are pictured at the base of the wearer’s neck.
A black infinity symbol is pictured on the underside of the wearer’s forearm in this tattoo.
While similar in concept to the airplane silhouette we saw earlier, this piece is differentiated by the angle of the plane. With the engines in full view and nose pointed toward the observer this piece is, in my opinion, more intriguing at a glance because of the plane’s aggressive stance.
Smile in Script Font
“Smile,” is written in a black script font in this tattoo pictured on the wearer’s torso.
Key and Keyhole Tattoo Set
This tattoo set pictures a skeleton key on the wearer’s index finger and a black keyhole on the wearer’s neck.
A black cross is inked onto the back of the wearer’s neck in this simple tattoo.
A myriad of triangular shapes are clustered together to create this unique geometric tattoo rendered on the wearer’s arm in black ink.
Black outlines are used to create a simplified rendition of a sailboat on the wearer’s wrist in this tattoo.
Kisses and Hugs
This tattoo set shows an X on the wrist of one wearer and an O on the wrist of the other wearer, both pieces are rendered in black ink.
One black line functions as the wedding rings for the couple in this picture.
A stylized arrow is created using black ink for the arrowhead, and shaft while the feathers on the end are embellished with yellow ink, the piece is located on the wearer’s forearm.
Sun and Crescent Moon
A crescent moon wraps around the perimeter of a smiling sun in this black and gray tattoo depicted on the wearer’s rib cage.
Set of Circles
The wearer’s right palm sports an empty circle while the wearer’s left palm sports a blacked out circle in this tattoo set.
Mom in a Heart
The word, “Mom,” is written inside of a heart in this black tattoo depicted on the back of the wearer’s arm over the Tricep.
Series of Egyptian Hieroglyphics
A series of Egyptian hieroglyphics are created using black ink and are pictured on the wearer’s forearm in this tattoo.
Personified Crescent Moon
A crescent moon with a face is rendered in black ink on the wearer’s torso in this tattoo.
Bouquet of Flowers
A black and gray bouquet of flowers is illustrated on the wearer’s right wrist in this tattoo.
Black and Gray Pineapple Set
Because pineapples are delicious, this tattoo set shows a pair of pineapples depicted on the wearer’s biceps.