Tattoos not only make a style statement — they can also reflect someone’s personality.
While extroverts may gravitate toward large, colorful tattoos, introverts may find that a small, delicate tattoo can make a quieter statement more reflective of their personality.
If you’re an introvert looking for a gorgeous but simple tattoo, consider some of these ideas for meaningful tattoos.
“Timshel” is a famous quote from John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden. The word itself means “thou mayest.” As a subtle tattoo, it is meant to remind people that they always have a choice.
2. Music notes
Small music note tattoos are easy to conceal (especially if placed behind the ear) and are a daily reminder that music is, indeed, life.
3. Arm bands
Arm band tattoos can be either dainty or bold, depending on a personal preference for line thickness, and can be both fashionable and symbolic.
4. Small dots
Dot tattoos look like natural beauty marks. They’re meaningful in the sense that the number or pattern of the dots can symbolize different aspects of one’s life, but hardly anyone will really see them. The ellipsis pattern tattoo above could symbolize infinity.
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5. Basic wave
Get back to the simpler forms of popular tattoos. The outline of a wave is petite, adorable tattoo and maintains your connection to peaceful water.
6. Alchemy symbols
Alchemy symbol tattoos are especially great for those who feel a connection to the earthly elements. The triangular shapes are each significant, without being overly showy.
7. Egyptian hieroglyphs
Depending on your background, Egyptian hieroglyph tattoos may be personally meaningful. Once used by Ancient Egyptians as their writing system, the symbols can make for small, intricate tattoos.
8. Outline of a country or state
An alternative to tattooing a map of the world on your arm is getting the outline of a country or state that holds particular significance to you. Whether it’s where you studied abroad in college or the state you grew up in, the inked outline tattoo is creative way to commemorate a special place.
9. Roman numerals
Rather than tattooing a loved one’s birthdate, opt for a roman numeral tattoo instead. Roman numerals give tattoos a clean, organized feel, and they can easily be hidden from sight.
From engagement rings to thick jewel replicas, the variations of ring tattoos are almost limitless.
They can be diminutive or bold, which makes them perfect for a variety of personalities and meanings. The designs above resemble traditional Indian henna designs, which are usually applied to hands and feet and represent good luck and health.
11. Paper plane
A paper plane tattoo is a minimal ink choice for the avid traveler. It’s creative and also signifies a more youthful, fun-loving personality.
Also known as a pulse, this tattoo signifies life. The heartbeat tattoo manages to make a huge statement in an understated way.
13. Needle and thread
Perfect for fashion lovers and creators, a needle and thread tattoo gets back to the basics with its simple yet elegant design.
Doctor Who fans and astronomy lovers will find beauty in the design of a small constellation tattoo. With lines, dots, and stars, there are infinite design possibilities to be discovered.
15. Cat silhouette
While portraits of cats make wonderful tattoos, cat silhouettes show a more refined love for felines. Compact and unembellished, these simple cat tattoos are easier to hide.
16. Outline of a camera
Show your love for photography with an unembellished camera tattoo. The simplicity of the design is aesthetically pleasing and artsy.
17. Tiny tree
Whether it be a leafless tree in the winter or a blooming springtime sapling, a tiny tree tattoo shows a passion for nature in a unique way.
18. “C’est la vie”
Translated as “that’s life,” this French quote may mean different things to everyone, and having it as a tattoo can help inspire our most thoughtful moods.
19. Carpe diem
Meaning “seize the day,” this quote, written by author Henry David Thoreau, was made famous by Robin William’s character in Dead Poet’s Society. The original “YOLO,” it sounds fancier and looks great tattooed.
20. Paw print
Show your love for your furry friend by adding a paw print tattoo to your collection. The small design allows it to be placed nearly anywhere, so you might even consider a pair of paws.
21. Basic sun
The sun can represent many different things from happiness to creation, but tattooing a giant fireball on your body may seem too extroverted for your taste. Instead, try a simple sun tattoo design.
Snowflakes have a subtle beauty in their design that makes them perfect for tattoos. Unique and beautiful, a snowflake tattoo is demure and can have many different and significant meanings.
23. “So it goes”
“So it goes” was penned by Kurt Vonnegut in his novel Slaughterhouse-Five. In his work, it symbolized that life goes on.
24. Little Prince
This simple tattoo is an ode to The Little Prince, a famed children’s book. The tattoo itself is an optical illusion: Adults often see a hat, while children (and adults with an imagination) see a snake which has eaten an elephant. It’s a clever reminder to not take oneself too seriously, and to keep in touch with one’s child-like creativity.
25. City skyline
Whether it’s one particular city or a combination of many, this city skyling tattoo will let you remember your travels in a permanent way.
26. Laurel wreath
The two interlocking branches that form a laurel wreath is a symbol of a great achievement and victory. Having a laurel wreath tattoo can act as a positive reminder of all your successes in life.
27. Lotus Flower
The lotus flower grows in the bleakest of conditions and its seeds can still germinate hundreds of years after being deprived of water. Having a lotus flower tattoo can help evoke a strong will to persevere and carry on in even the worst of conditions.
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This article was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2018.