Your first tattoo is just like your first love - it’s either the worst choice of your life or the sweetest thing you could’ve hoped for. Nevertheless, it’s a thing you’ll remember for the rest of your days - one etched into your heart and the other inked onto your skin. But, of course, there’s one difference. If with love, you don’t really get to choose who you fall for, then with a tattoo, it’s always your own decision. So, if you are ready to fall in love with your first tattoo, we’ve gathered a list full of prime choices for your ink. 

As a tattooed person myself, I can tell you this much - if you fall for a specific, seemingly meaningless design, the connotation to it will come later on. And vice versa for sure! If you have a meaningful idea but no particular way of expressing it, then give doodling a shot. Or, if you are desperately bad at putting your thoughts into shapes and lines, then talk to your tattoo artist, and you’ll come up with a tattoo design together. Either way, some of the ink examples that we’ve featured below might catch your eye, and then you can put your meaning or your drawing ideas into the composition to make it your own.

To make sure that your first tattoo is a happy kind of love, not only have we gathered design suggestions for you to choose from, but we have also talked to Nicoletta Trifiro. She’s a professional tattooist whose works reflect the old-school tattoo style, based in London and Italy. You can see her gorgeous works on her Instagram page, and maybe she’ll be the one that’ll give you your first ink. See what kind of advice she gave to tattoo first-timers below!

#1

Man Tattooed His Daughter’s Last Drawing Before She Passed Away

Man Tattooed His Daughter’s Last Drawing Before She Passed Away

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Dorothy Parker
Community Member
6 months ago

Heartbreaking.

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#2

Tattooed Some New Brows On A Client With Alopecia

Tattooed Some New Brows On A Client With Alopecia

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BoopBoop
Community Member
6 months ago

Great job, these look good!

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#3

Spilled Coffee

Spilled Coffee

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Kitty Queen
Community Member
6 months ago

Catffeine overdose 😼

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To make your decision about whether your first tattoo should be a meaningful one or just a cute design, we’ve asked Nicoletta’s opinion on the matter. She told us that, “Usually, on the first tattoo, it is much more common to get a meaningful one - something for yourself or to be done together with friends or family. But this trend is changing quickly, and I have tattooed many people for the first one with something they just like because they like my work.” She also added that “I guess nowadays people are much more informed and passionate about the tattoo industry than before.” I think that it’s the internet to be thankful for that - whole lotta articles and ideas to read and to choose from!

#4

Paper Plane

Paper Plane

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Dorothy Parker
Community Member
6 months ago

Love the shadow.

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#5

Some Patchwork

Some Patchwork

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ispeak catanese
Community Member
6 months ago

That technique is mind-blowing.

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#6

Tattoo Under UV

Tattoo Under UV

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Dorothy Parker
Community Member
6 months ago

"...and then there was only a grin."

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Nicoletta has also confirmed our guess about the designs people choose most often for their first ink. And no, it isn’t usually a dragon covering half of your body or your ex’s name on your chest, but rather “little symbols or a quote”. Nothing that requires a considerable commitment, but rather some cherished memorabilia or daily inspiration.

#7

Finally Got The Tattoo I’ve Always Wanted!

Finally Got The Tattoo I’ve Always Wanted!

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Archer Harris
Community Member
6 months ago

Oh, that’s creative!

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#8

Teach A Man To Fish... Then Tattoo His Leg

Teach A Man To Fish... Then Tattoo His Leg

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Archer Harris
Community Member
6 months ago

This one needs to be higher up. That is hilarious

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#9

Blue Birds

Blue Birds

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Dorothy Parker
Community Member
6 months ago

Perfection. The blue birds of happiness.

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Purely out of curiosity, we asked about Nicoletta’s, as a professional tattoo artist, pet peeves from a tattoo design perspective, to which she replied, “I normally refuse to ink something downloaded from the internet, which is some other artist’s work.” But what to do if you’ve already fallen in love with the design? Well, then Nicoletta advises to “modify it to make it custom and unique.” See, there’s always a way! Besides feeling strongly about stuff downloaded from the internet, she refuses to ink something even remotely suggestive or related to disrespectful ideologies.

#10

First Tattoo! Clarinet Designed By My Father And Done By Pascal Guimond At Sinister Skin In Port Moody BC

First Tattoo! Clarinet Designed By My Father And Done By Pascal Guimond At Sinister Skin In Port Moody BC

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Rage of Aquarius
Community Member
6 months ago

For hardcore band nerds!

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#11

Decided To Get My First Tattoo On My 23rd! Thanks Ty! (Kindhand Tattoo/Menomonie)

Decided To Get My First Tattoo On My 23rd! Thanks Ty! (Kindhand Tattoo/Menomonie)

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Vicky Z
Community Member
6 months ago

Very clever!!!

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#12

Dinosaur Family

Dinosaur Family

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eirini
Community Member
6 months ago

These are so cute!!!

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Lastly, she kindly shared her advice to every tattoo first-timer and emphasized the importance of talking to your tattoo artist before actually going under the needle. “Ask as many questions as you need to make you feel confident about it and comfortable with the process - there are no stupid questions or requests.” She also added that she’s always open to listening to people’s stories, which helps give sense to a tattoo design that’s being created. So there you have it - trust in your chosen tattooist, don’t forget to speak to them openly about your wishes, and you’ll be fine!  

Thank you, Nicoletta, for sharing your insights with us, and if you’ve missed it before - here’s her Instagram profile and her stunning tattoo designs! Oh, and best of luck in this year’s The Great British Tattoo Show!

#13

Siblings Tattoo

Siblings Tattoo

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ispeak catanese
Community Member
6 months ago

Ooh, I get it now! Their order of birth!

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#14

Scar Cover-Up

Scar Cover-Up

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Rachel Cobb
Community Member
6 months ago

SO COOL!!!

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#15

An Elephant

An Elephant

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Quackers 🦆
Community Member
6 months ago

Adorable!!!

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#16

A Minimalist Bracelet

A Minimalist Bracelet

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Hilary Rudd
Community Member
6 months ago

Got a version of this one!

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#17

My First Major Tattoo! It’s My Pup Bentley, Who Has Been The Best Part Of My Life. By Brandon Thurston At Bloodmoon Gallery, NC

My First Major Tattoo! It’s My Pup Bentley, Who Has Been The Best Part Of My Life. By Brandon Thurston At Bloodmoon Gallery, NC

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Archer Harris
Community Member
6 months ago

Awwww that is adorable 🥰

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#18

Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli

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Melanie Lahman
Community Member
6 months ago

I love the soot sprites!

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#19

Vines

Vines

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Luna W.
Community Member
6 months ago

Wow...so delicate

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#20

A Collar Bone Snake

A Collar Bone Snake

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Quackers 🦆
Community Member
6 months ago

Woah!!

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#21

Small Branch

Small Branch

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Vicky Z
Community Member
6 months ago

That must have been really painful

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#22

A Hedgehog

A Hedgehog

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buttonpusher
Community Member
6 months ago

Aww I want this!

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#23

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

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Quackers 🦆
Community Member
6 months ago

Woah... the detail is so good

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#24

Calvin And Hobbes

Calvin And Hobbes

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Quackers 🦆
Community Member
6 months ago

Sweet!

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#25

A Small Painting. Les Coquelicots (Monet) By La Fragile At White Whale Tattoo Society (Padua, Italy)

A Small Painting. Les Coquelicots (Monet) By La Fragile At White Whale Tattoo Society (Padua, Italy)

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Ktlar
Community Member
6 months ago

Oh my god!

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#26

A Galaxy

A Galaxy

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A B C
Community Member
6 months ago

Those colours are amazing! I love the goldish copper.

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#27

A Seal

A Seal

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Vicky Z
Community Member
6 months ago

Adorable

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#28

My Latest Tattoo, Winnie The Pooh And Friends By Ashley June At 522 Tattoo Just North Of Seattle

My Latest Tattoo, Winnie The Pooh And Friends By Ashley June At 522 Tattoo Just North Of Seattle

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pinkytoes
Community Member
6 months ago

LOVE this!

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#29

The Simpsons

The Simpsons

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Auntriarch
Community Member
6 months ago

Nice!

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#30

Love Yourself

Love Yourself

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Kika González
Community Member
6 months ago

Design is delicate and simple

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#31

A Snowflake

A Snowflake

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No.
Community Member
6 months ago

this reminds of that one scene from frozen when elsa sings let it go (first chorus) and makes little snowflakes that sparkle <3

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#32

The Earth

The Earth

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aiyshag
Community Member
6 months ago

so simple and clean. nice!

#33

Tiny Book

Tiny Book

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Francis
Community Member
6 months ago

the tinier and the more narrow the lines the more it gonna look like sh*t in some years. the lines gonna fade and blurr. but it looks pretty the first months

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#34

Pine Trees

Pine Trees

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DennyS (denzoren)
Community Member
6 months ago

I really like this one.

#35

A Dragonfly

A Dragonfly

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Annemarie Mattheyse
Community Member
6 months ago

LOVE this!

#36

Flower Ring

Flower Ring

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ispeak catanese
Community Member
6 months ago

Do colors like this last?

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#37

My First Tattoo Had To Be A Sentimental One, My Moms Favorite Saying To Me In Her Hand Writing! Done By Elekktra At Beneath The Surface In Las Vegas, Nevada

My First Tattoo Had To Be A Sentimental One, My Moms Favorite Saying To Me In Her Hand Writing! Done By Elekktra At Beneath The Surface In Las Vegas, Nevada

viblical Report

Vicky Z
Community Member
6 months ago

I would never make such a choice because "don't forget to take a jacket" wouldn't be so cool for a tattoo

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#38

Got My Very First Star Wars Tattoo. One Of The Most Memorable Scenes

Got My Very First Star Wars Tattoo. One Of The Most Memorable Scenes

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Emma Garcia
Community Member
6 months ago

Binary Sunset!

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#39

My First Tattoo. Creation Of Adam

My First Tattoo. Creation Of Adam

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Dorothy Parker
Community Member
6 months ago

The Divine Spark.

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#40

Fibonacci Spiral

Fibonacci Spiral

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Kaisa
Community Member
6 months ago

Golden ratio

Note: this post originally had 200 images. It’s been shortened to the top 40 images based on user votes.