Unlike back tattoos, calf tattoos, or ankle tattoos, wrist tattoos carry a more personal, more profound meaning. People often get wrist tattoos to serve as reminders of things they keep near to their hearts, whether it be a loved one’s name, a phrase, an inspirational quote, or a symbolic image with a strong connotation. Getting a wrist tattoo keeps what’s most important to you within arm’s length.
Choosing to get a tattoo on your left or your right wrist is a personal preference. There is no right or wrong choice as to which wrist is better or whether you shouldn’t tattoo a particular wrist. Your wrist choice would be dependent on what you want for your body rather than what society dictates.
You’ve done your research. Your meticulous crafted the meaning behind your tattoo, you’ve booked your appointment and paid your deposit, you arrive at the tattoo parlor, sit down, and the tattoo artist asks you: “Which wrist will we be tattooing today?”You panic! You knew you forgot something but couldn’t remember what. Fear not. We’re here to help you answer that question.
Left WristOr Right Wrist For Your Tattoo?
Some have suggested that being left side dominant means that you are more imaginative, have a more holistic style of thinking, better intuition, more creativity, and better rhythm. Some people feel like they respond better to non-verbal cues, and they swear they can visualize feelings. Having a tattoo on your left wrist could signify your connection to your inner self and your ability to embrace an unknown future.
On the other wrist, those believed to be right-hand dominant think they’re more logical, fixed in rigid linear thinking. Those with wrist tattoos see themselves as acolytes of the real world where guessing has no place, where factual evidence reigns supreme. Getting a tattoo on your right wrist could show the world that your experiences govern your passions, and nothing you do isn’t thought out well in advance.
The Meaning Behind Wrist Tattoos
Placing a tattoo on your wrist is a way to signify to the world that you carry confidence, you don’t have anything to hide, and what you see is what you get – wearing your heart on your sleeve. The wrist symbolizes a sense of agility, flexibility, and labor done with movement precision to the spiritually inclined. The wrist gives your work and gestures weight. To some getting a wrist tattoo symbolizes their capacity to see their work through to completion.
4 Popular Wrist Tattoo Placements
- Side wrist.A relatively subtle and less common placement. Many designs work well with this placement because of the large area available to the tattoo artist.
- Inner wrist. It is located just above the palm over the forearm tendons. Smaller tattoos are more suitable for this area as there is a lot of movement daily, so more extensive, more detailed tattoos will fade quickly over time. The inner wrist area makes it easier to cover up than other sites.
- Top of the wrist. Extremely visible and can often be seen when shaking hands. This placement is useful if you want your tattoo to be visible more often than not. Be careful of the ulna and radius bones, as tattooing over bone could be uncomfortable.
- Wristband. Usually encircles the entire wrist, similar to an armband tattoo. Tattoos in this area fill out the wrist and allow for broader flexibility in design and style.
Designing Your Wrist Tattoo
- Size. With pre-imposed space restrictions around the wrist, tattoo artists advise a smaller, less detailed tattoo.
- Design. Because of the various placement options available, you need to consider that you’ll often be looking at your tattoo. Ensure that you are 100% happy with the design and layout before committing to your first session.
- Color. Excessive use of color around the wrist area might not be the best idea as your arms are often very exposed to direct sunlight. Be sure to exercise proper tattoo maintenance to retain your tattoo’s vibrancy.
- Placement. Start small and work your way up to more elaborate designs. Visualizing your design through sketches on a piece of paper first or printing it out and placing it around your wrist will help you find the ideal location, orientation, and size.
- Be open-minded. Your tattoo artist usually knows best and will be able to advise you on what will deliver the best result, even if it means you might have to tweak your initial design to better fit within the space available.
Which Way Should You Get A Wrist Tattoo?
Upside down, right way up, it all depends on the tattoo’s purpose and what it means to you. If visibility and legibility in mirrors or photos concern you, get it the right way up. If it’s more personal and you use it as a reminder to yourself, then get it facing upside down so you can read it clearly, the opinion of others be damned. Over and above all, the design of your tattoo will dictate its orientation.
One possible solution to consider is to get an omnidirectional tattoo that doesn’t change the design based on orientation but is always ‘the right way up.’
Wrist Tattoo Ideas For Men
Wrist tattoos have always garnered more popularity among males thanks to how noticeable they are, lower pain levels, and their ability to be developed into full sleeve works of art as they journey through life. Here are a few ideas if you are a male considering getting a wrist tattoo.
- Bold lettering.
- Nature Scenes.
- Geometrical line work.
- Heart designs.
- Roman Numerals.
Wrist Tattoo Ideas For Women
Not to be outdone by men, women have fully embraced wrist tattoos and have brought on a new age in self-expression through intricately detailed designs that show off their boldness, creativity, perseverance, and courage. Here are a few ideas if you are a female considering getting a wrist tattoo.
- Nautical Star.
- Astrological scenery.
- Single-word phrases.
- Minimalist designs.
Wrist Tattoo Pros And Cons
- Wrist tattoos are visible to yourself and others. Wrist tattoos can easily be covered up if needed to fit into any social environment.
- Easy to spot for a personal reminder or to relive a memory.
- The wrist can be accessorized with watches, bracelets, etc.
- Starting at the wrist leaves a lot of room for creativity and further sleeve development at a later stage.
- Accessories worn on your wrist will continuously rub against your tattoo, which could cause it to fade over time.
- If it’s right on the joint, the constant movement of your wrist will wear out the ink.
- You can’t have an overly detailed tattoo close to your tendons because small fine details will lose their structure over time.
- Tougher skin around the wrist area makes it harder for the tattoo artist to do detailed work.
- Wrist tattoos hurt more than other places because of the proximity to bone and tendons.
- Some workplaces might have rules against visible tattoos, and you might be asked to cover up your tattoos. Being asked to cover up is hard, especially when they have significant meaning to you.
Are Wrist Tattoos Dangerous
Getting a tattoo on your wrist is no more or less dangerous than getting a tattoo on any other part of your body. Before getting any tattoo, check with your tattoo artist if there might be ingredients in the ink that might cause an allergic reaction.
Some people might have fear because you are effectively tattooing over an area with veins close to the surface of your skin. Rest assured that an experienced, reputable tattoo artist knows how deep they can safely penetrate your skin at various parts of your body and that they have probably tattooed a few wrists in their career.
The pain shouldn’t be unbearable as the wrist contains fewer nerve endings than other areas. Just know that hitting bone is almost always sore.
Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you
Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.
Design and tattoo ideas
For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):
- Great Book of Tattoo Designs, Revised Edition: More than 500 Body Art Designs (Fox Chapel Publishing) Fantasy, Celtic, Floral, Wildlife, and Symbol Designs for the Skin by Lora Irish
- The Big Book of Small Tattoos – Vol.1: 400 small original tattoos for women and men by Roberto Gemori
- Tiny Tattoos: Over 1,000 Small Inspirational Artworks by Rebecca Vincent.
If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).
The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):
Whether you pick the right or left wrist, have your design upside down or right side up. The choice is yours. There is no right or wrong. Tattoos are an immensely personal form of body art and self-expression, and no one person can tell you that there is a specific science to it.
It all comes down to having the right design that will complement your style and ideals. Take this opportunity to reflect on what you want your wrist tattoo to say about you, your beliefs, and what people can expect when meeting you.