What is the right size for a tattoo?

Size matters – or doesn’t it? The question if size matters or not has been on humanity’s mind since forever it seems. Regardless of the aspect of life, people always have been indecisive about it. Some think it does, others think it doesn’t. Thus, choosing the right tattoo size is one of the harder choices as well. But no worries, there are some guidelines to help you find the answer to this question.

Never follow your fear

A lot of my clients initially struggle with the decision on how big their tattoo should be. Especially, clients who are getting their first tattoo. They often tend to worry about the tattoo becoming too big. First, there’s the fear of the more physical discomfort with the increase in size, but also the uncertainty due to the fact that it’s a lifelong decision. In addition, a small tattoo might ostensibly appear as less expensive due to the smaller price. The first impulse often is, to start small and see how it goes from there, but fear is never a good advisor.

On the contrary, when it comes to tattoos there are quite a few aspects to consider, that advocate rather than choosing a bigger size for your tattoo.

Let’s tackle the tattoo size issue

To begin with: Yes, the bigger the tattoo, the longer the tattoo session and the longer the tattoo session, the longer you’ll have to endure the physical discomfort that comes along with it. Also, if you’ve worked out the exact design already and that includes the tattoo being small, then that’s absolutely fine as well.

Still regarding small and tiny tattoos, keep in mind that:

  • Tiny tattoos especially on body parts like fingers, palms, or feet will heal blurry or usually lose their detail quickly because of the thicker skin-layers which need to be penetrated by the tattoo-needle.
  • Tiny or small tattoos have a higher risk of losing ink and needing touch-up sessions especially those which are tattooed with a “single needle”.
  • Some artists including myself offer one free touch-up session to assure the best visual impact of their tattoo but many other artists charge extra for touch-up sessions especially for tiny detailed tattoos or certain body-parts, which can end up costing you quite some cash.
  • With an increasing number of touch-ups and depending on the body part the risk of the tattoo turning too dark or diminishing the very fine details
  • Last but not least remember that in relation tiny tattoos are more expensive than larger tattoos since you pay the artist for consultation, drawing, workspace setup, disposable material, and workspace tear-down anyway.


On the other hand, if your vision is not as detailed yet, especially regarding the size, then take into consideration the following points regarding big tattoos:

  • In my whole career, I’ve never had a tattoo client that got a tattoo and came in again being unhappy with their tattoo because it was “too big”.
  • The body-part determines the size of a tattoo, to maintain a visual flow and aesthetic. Every tattoo just has its right-fit. It’s almost how you would place a picture within a frame. For example, a small photograph in the right bottom corner of a huge frame can look visually unbalanced.
  • Quite the opposite: I’ve had many clients come back hoping we could make the design somehow larger by adding elements.
  • However, it’s not as simple to enlarge a tattoo. Ideally, every design has a balanced composition and if that’s the case, adding elements around it can distract from the main element and create an imbalance.
  • In addition, larger tattoos allow for more detail and have a longer longevity.
  • Finally, larger tattoos might cost a bit more money forehand. But remember that you also get more for your money, since the higher amount of detail and the longevity are an investment for the future. To be more precise it’s an investment in the artwork on your body that you’ll be enjoying for the rest of your life.


Trust the artist & experience

Of course, a good tattoo artist will respect your idea and vision on the tattoo, no matter if big or small. At the same time as a professional, she or he can help you find the right size for your project. Thanks to their experience they will let you know which size he or she feels confident to tattoo, always focusing on the best outcome.

It’s not about selling you on a bigger design just for making more profit. As my client, you are always also a reference for me. If you choose the right artist, the artist will act as your friend and it is always our intention to get the best possible result for you. I personally would rather turn a client down and make no money at all, if I feel the project is not executable in a great manner with the given size and body-part.

The best I can suggest is for you to stay open for adjustments and consider changing the size of your tattoo if necessary. Trust your tattoo artist and her or his experience.

Did you like this article, was it helpful? If so let me know below in the comments and feel free to ask me any open questions. I’m always happy to help! And if you have friends or family that might be interested in this topic, feel free to share.


2 Responses

  1. Hello, I am interested in finally getting my first tattoo done at 46. I want to start with a Octopus on my arm old map style. I really like what you did on Benjamin Guzman.
    What is your rates and availability?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Message received!

We appreciate your message, and we will get back to you shortly.