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Tattoo design: Complex vs. Simple

Tattoo design: Complex vs. Simple

simpleVScomplex Many people assume that the smaller and simpler a tattoo, the easier it is to design and get inked. However, achieving simplicity can actually lead to much more frustration and difficulty than you may think, sometimes even more than a large and complex design.

Simplicity vs. Absence of Clutter

Simply put, simplicity is not just the absence of clutter. While removing clutter is often a side effect of making something simple, simplicity itself involves breaking down an object or design into its core necessities. With tattoo design, that’s where the difficulties arise. The more you take away from a design in the quest for simplicity, the less tools your tattoo artist has to satisfy your design needs. This means that whatever is left in the design after removing the complexity, has to still tell the story that you’re looking to tell with your tattoo. dove complex blog Dove Simple blog In the above example, although the topic of each tattoo design is a dove, the simpler design has a lot less opportunity to express itself. Because of this, each line of its design has to be crafted with purpose and meaning.

How Size affects design

We’ve already discussed the special considerations that you have to make for smaller tattoos, but you also need to consider the complexity of the design when working with your tattoo artist. In general, simple tattoos, when applied to a larger area, are going to involve a lot of longer lines. The difficulty here is that the human body usually does not lend well to long, unbroken lines. Between our muscles and curves, lines can easily be distorted from being too long. With a more complex design, your artist has more opportunity to break up a large design into multiple sections.


One final consideration when you’re looking for a simple design is how you should work through the design process with your artist. The simpler the design you have in mind, the harder it’s going to be to describe to your tattoo artist, which is going to make their job more difficult. Any tattoo, simple or complex is going to hold a lot of meaning for you. With a simple design, be prepared to have some back and forth with your artist as they work to discover the key points that you want included in your design, your tattoo artist won’t be able to tell the difference between the core design you want and the ‘clutter’ unless you tell them. As we’ve discussed in this post, simple designs can often bring greater challenges than complex designs. When you’re working on one with your tattoo artist, keep these points in mind so that you can give your artist all of the input they need to design the tattoo you’re looking for.
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