WOW, these are good. Simple tattoos are genius because they tell such a powerful and complex story – so simply! These are the greatest simple tattoos EVER.
These simple tattoos are simply genius. According to 19th century poet, Walt Whitman, “Nothing is better than simplicity.” (Leaves of Grass, 1855) These 40 tattoos embrace the notion, making grand statements with, in some cases, as little as a single line. Simple doesn’t necessarily mean small; I’m defining “simple” in this article as a tattoo that is created without a lot of extra detail, little to no shading, one, maybe two colors. A simple tattoo gets its point across without all the bells and whistles. It tells it like it is. Let’s get started and look at some of the purest, simplest simple tattoos that you ever did see. Some of these are only one color, one line, etc – but what makes them genius is that they convey so much using so little.
Simple Tattoos That Are Simply Genius:
1. Just Five Lines
This back tattoo is so utterly simple, yet it is so eye-catching. I want to know why – why this particular formation of lines? Does it symbolize anything? Is it an abstract representation of something? Who cares! It looks awesome.
Pacman eats the larger value. That’s how you remember whether the symbol is saying “greater-than” or “less-than,” right? In the case of this simple tattoo, the owner is indicating that “HE” (presumably, God), is greater than “i” (presumably, themselves). It’s a clever way to express your religious beliefs without being blatant about it.
3. The Golden Ratio
I’m going to be totally honest here. I know what the golden ratio is, and I understand how it works. I even went and looked it up on the interwebs to try to find a simple way to explain it. I’m fairly certain that that is actually impossible. If you’ve seen or read “The Da Vinci Code,” or if you’re super into math, you probably know what it is. So, I’m not even going to try to explain it, just comment on how totally cool this simple tattoo is, and tell you that if you like this one, you’ll love number 13 on this list.
4. Mew Simple Tattoos
This is one cute kitty! Something about those bitty front paws – adorbs! I feel like this cat is just kind of like “hi. mew. pet me.”
5. Single Line Tattoo
Single line tattoos are all the rage right now, bringing simplicity to a whole new level. It’s amazing how the artist is able to use a single, unbroken line to create an image. This upper arm penguin tattoo is a great example of the genre.
6. Delicious Pastry
This person is either a fan of tasty, flaky pastries, or heir to the Pillsbury fortune. Either way, this is just the cutest little croissant I’ve ever seen!
7. It’s All in Your Head
Clever word play here with “mind” over “matter.” I’ve seen a few examples of these, but I liked the placement of this one the best.
8. Simple Sea Creature
You could go totally crazy with a dolphin tattoo, but this one keeps it simple and sweet with lines that look almost like brushstrokes. A simple tattoo to convey your love of these intelligent creatures.
I don’t know how this bike is going to work without a chain. As far as simple tattoos go, this really nails it, with all the combination of just a few straight lines, three circles and a curve for the handlebar.
10. Sweet Seahorse
Another adorable little animal tattoo! Seahorses are so fascinating to me – what strange little creatures they are. Did you know that seahorses mate for life? Not only that, but every morning they greet each other with a ritualistic dance. Though, I suppose this one might actually be a sea Pegasus, since it appears to have wings.
11. High Seas Single Line
Another cool single line tattoo, this one takes a subject that is usually done up with detail and breaks it down into the simplicity of its parts. Just a ship and its sails. Or is boat the proper term? I’m never really sure about the rules on that.
12. Tipping the Scales
It actually took me a minute to figure out what this tattoo was. At first I thought it was just a tribal thing, but when I realized that it was an abstract, tribal tattoo depiction of scales, I said to myself “THAT is so cool!” I know this one might break the rules of simple tattoos that I set forth at the beginning (what with all those fancy lines), but I’m going to consider it simple because it’s more like a graphic representation of an object than an image of the object itself. And also because it’s my article and I’ll include what I want to!
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13. Fibonacci Sequence
The Fibonacci sequence, as I understand it, takes two numbers, adds them together to equal the third number, and so on. So, 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5 (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5). I have no idea what the point of it is, but I know it played an important role in “The Da Vinci Code.” This is a simple tattoo for lovers of, what, math, I guess? Simple tattoos for math. Not my fav…
14. Mustang Sally
I realize that this simple horse tattoo isn’t actually a depiction of the Mustang logo, but whatever! I like coming up with clever titles. I imagine that this lady has a passion for horses, and this is a nice way to show that off. Between the shoulder blades is one of my favorite locations for any tattoo, and this one looks like it’s ready to just gallop right across her back.
15. The Write Stuff
Apparently this simple tattoo is actually song lyrics. As I was about to make a comment on it, I thought I should probably check it out in case it is, in fact, from something. Turns out these words are from the Paul Simon song “Hurricane Eye,” which says, “You want to be a writer/But you don’t know how or when/Find a quiet place/Use a humble pen.” It’s nice, isn’t it?
16. Ink Splat
For some reason this keeps reminding me of that stuff in Roger Rabbit…what was it called? I can’t remember. I hated that movie. Anyway, this simple tattoo is super cool, but I’d be worried that people would be constantly telling me I’ve got something on my arm.
Geisha tattoos are usually very complex affairs, from the face makeup to the kimono, but this one is simplicity personified. It uses broad strokes and negative space to bring this gracious lady to life. I absolutely adore it. I don’t necessarily agree with the whole Geisha culture thing, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a great tattoo, or, for that matter, a beautiful woman all done up.
18. Off to Neverland
I want a Peter Pan tattoo so badly!! I love this simple depiction of Peter, Tinkerbell and the Darlings. It’s pretty impressive how the artist was able to give these itsy bitsy characters enough detail, even in silhouette, so that they are instantly recognizable. So cute and magical!
19. Abstract Lily
I have discovered, through extensive interwebs research, that the symbol depicted in the tattoo above is the skeletal formula of serotonin, which is a chemical compound believed to be related to happiness. Therefore, this tattoo is most likely meant as a commentary on the owner’s state of being. Basically, it’s a nerdy, science-y way of saying “happy.”
21. Itchy Dog
If this dog is actually a character for something, and I just don’t know, I apologize. He’s so cute! I love that he’s giving himself a scratch. I have no idea why someone would get a tattoo of a dog scratching itself, so I kind of hope it is some kind of character I don’t know about. There’s just something about the style of this adorably simple tattoo that makes me love it so much.
22. Delicate Dragon
If this tattoo is on a dude, I’m sorry for calling it delicate. But it is! It’s all graceful and streamlined and, well, delicate! I just now noticed that the wing actually kind of looks like a creepy skeleton hand. I wonder if that was intentional? Anyway, it’s a nice way to simplify what is often a very detailed and complicated subject.
23. Fading Dots
The patience this must have required – all those tiny dots must have taken ages. The effect is amazing, though. An altogether awesomely simple tattoo.
24. Severus Snape Simple Tattoos
My assumption is that this tattoo is in reference to Harry Potter. Because always. *Tearing up* Every time…that scene gets me every time. Poor Snape!
I like that this isn’t the typical infinity tattoo. This one is just a simple, bold infinity with some teensy tiny astrological signs (Gemini and Sagittarius). Cute, simple and to the point.
Aww! I love this tattoo! A great sentiment simply portrayed. Who doesn’t love to swing every now and then? (Not THAT kind of swing! Geez! Get your mind out of the gutter!)
Sly Fox Simple Tattoo
Upon second inspection of this fox tattoo, I’ve discovered that he seems to be missing half of a leg. I’m going to pretend that it’s intentional. Because otherwise, it’s a nice simple tattoo. And maybe she just wanted to advocate for legless animals, or something.
I really do hate having to make assumptions all the time, but considering that the Roman numerals here translate to 26.2, I have to believe that this tattoo is about running a marathon. For those of you who don’t know, marathons are 26.2 miles. You know, I do like a tattoo that doesn’t just go right out and say something, but instead needs a bit of interpretation. Here, it was using Roman numerals instead of…regular? What do we call our system of numbers? Didn’t I learn anything in school? Then there was the tattoo in #13 that used chemistry to indicate a feeling. It really gives a tat that something extra, don’t you think?
Huh. Initially, I figured that this was an Aries tattoo. But now, I’m not so sure. It could be Capricorn. Regardless, this tattoo just teeters on the line of simple, since it’s got a tiny bit of shading, but if you really break it down, it’s just some thick, black, abstract lines that come together to form the idea of the shape. It’s either a ram or a goat. I’ll leave that one up to you.
The Caped Crusader Simple Tattoos
Oh, how I love this. Not only is this an amazing example of simple tattoos, but it actually conveys motion! I really feel like they are running either towards or away from me. I’m slightly disturbed by their disconnected heads, but whatever. Duh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh, Duh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh, BATMAN!
What’s Your Sign?
This one is definitely Cancer. That much I know. This zodiac tattoo is much simpler than that horned guy we talked about a minute ago. Much easier to identify. I like this. Keepin’ it simple.
My Compliments to the Chef
This one might be my absolute favorite. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be a whisk. If I’m wrong, then I’m really confused, so I’m just going to stick with the whisk thing. This guy is probably a sous chef at a fancy restaurant. He has aspirations of becoming head chef someday, maybe opening his own place. Probably French fusion, or maybe he’ll go the molecular gastronomy route and serve things like liquid pea spheres and gelled Irish coffee (seriously, it’s a thing). Where was I? Oh, yeah. This tattoo is amazing.
Lounging Fairy Simple Tattoos
This simple tattoo takes another subject that is often very detailed and whittles it down to its basics. I love that she’s laying out flat, and that her wings are so spare. A lovely piece.
This is another instance where the tattoo artist has been able to draw just a few simple lines and make them into something recognizable. A sweet and simple goldfish.
You can’t get much simpler than a solid, black shape. I do like that there is that tiniest bit of detail added on the points of the anchor where there is a sliver of non-inked skin.
I Have an Idea
This single line tattoo is awesome. It’s realistic and abstract at the same time. I love it! But, I’m trying to figure out if the filament in the light bulb is supposed to be a word. I see, maybe, “Carey?” Am I nuts?
Man of Steel
What better way to express your love for your favorite super hero than by tattooing their emblem on yourself? There is none, I say, none! I’m a fan of this simple black outline version of the Superman S. Who needs color, anyway?
Not Everything’s Bigger in Texas
This single line tattoo is a bit different than the others we’ve seen, as it’s using a pretty bold line on a tiny tattoo. A nice way to pay tribute to your home state.
Pint-Sized Pachy Simple Tattoos
Loving the style of this simple elephant tattoo! He’s kind of cartoonish and sketched at the same time. A sweet little something for the back of your neck.
“Is this the end?” “Of course not, it’s only the beginning.” Sandy Olsen and Danny Zuko, Grease, 1978.
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