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Badass back tattoos: Pro tips and designs

Words by Adam Jolley
Tattoo by Tiaret Mitchell
Tattoo by Tiaret Mitchell

Guess who's back, back again?... Yes, it's back tattoos! (To be fair, they never went away).

Thinking of getting your back inked? Nice! Well, just for you, we've put together some little nuggets of info that may just help you through the process - and, of course, we've included some of our fave designs.

Go big or go home?

We're not saying you have to go big for the back, it's just if you do want to go big, then the back offers a great opportunity to do it. Tattoo arist Sammi Allen (@s.a.d.designs) agrees. "Back tattoos are great purely for the scope of design you can create," she says. "Most people save their backs for something super big and stand out, so it's always a fun one to design." 

Tattoo by Jenna Bouma

How are you with pain?

We've not included the word 'badass' in the title for nothing. Not only do back tattoos look badass, but they can definitely be one of the more spicy placement choices. This is because the back, particularly the spine, shoulder blades, and lower back region, can be some of the more painful areas of your body to get tattooed. If you have a low pain tolerance and still want these areas tattooed, you can always discuss pain management with your artist before you begin.

Tattoo by Acumen

Symmetry and balance

Symmetrical designs lend themselves nicely to back tattoos, especially if it’s a central piece. If it's off-center, your artist can balance the design with elements that complement each other. Again, check you're happy with this aspect before your artist puts ink to skin.

Tattoo by Mike Boyd

'Back tattoos are great, purely for the scope of design you can create' - Tattoo artist Sammi Allen

High vis?

Decide if you want your tattoo to be easily visible (like going up your neck too, for instance), or would you prefer it to be easily covered up? This will all depend on your lifestyle and/or professional requirements, or simply what clothes you commonly like to wear.

Tattoo by Tiaret Mitchell

Research your artist

First, choose a reputable artist - as if you wouldn't! Second, you may want to look for artists who specialise in back tattoos and have a good portfolio of this placement. Once decided, ask to schedule a consultation to discuss your design and placement.

Tattoo by Anna Travers

What are you going to wear?

Wear comfortable and loose clothing on the day of your appointment. Bring something that can be easily removed or adjusted to give the artist access to your back. And when it's time to go home, think about what you'll cover up with (if that's what you want) without rubbing your fresh ink.

Tattoo by Mel Moulash


Finally, follow your artist’s aftercare instructions meticulously. At some stage you're going to need to wash your back tattoo and apply aftercare cream. Depending on the size and placement of your tattoo (or length of your arms!), you may need to rope in a friend to help - just make sure you brief them properly. Use mild, fragrance-free soap and lukewarm water. Rinse off thoroughly. And gently apply a thin layer of tattoo aftercare cream. Repeat as necessary until your badass back tattoo is healed.