How to choose a tattoo design for the nape of your neck

Updated February 21, 2017

If you've decided to get a tattoo placed on your body, and are either old enough or have a parent's consent, the next step is to decide where you want the tattoo. A common location for a small tattoo is on the nape of your neck. People with long hair may get a tattoo in this location because they can cover it with their hair when desired. When preparing to have tattoo work done, take time to carefully decide what design you'll have tattooed onto your neck.

Make a list of things of importance to you. Getting a tattoo is a big decision, as without painful and expensive tattoo removal, you'll have the artwork on your body for the rest of your life. Think about the things that have a long-standing significance to you, rather than those you're simply interested in right now. What you were into 10 years ago might not be what you're into today, so it's important to choose a tattoo design that will always be important to you.

Browse the Internet to look at various tattoo designs. If you don't want something personal on your body, such as the name of a loved one, you can choose a standard tattoo design and have it customised to suit your size and colour requirements. Typical neck tattoo designs include astrological signs, flowers, Chinese symbols and animals such as butterflies or dolphins.

Visit a tattoo shop to talk about your design idea with a tattoo artist. Browse the artist's portfolio of work to feel comfortable that he or she can execute the design you're seeking. If you are choosing a typical neck tattoo design, talk to the artist about making the design customised to you. He or she may have ideas that will make your tattoo more unique. Every tattoo shop also has extensive catalogues of the work of its artists. Take time to browse through these books to consider your options. Many tattoo shops' books are divided by design or by area of the body that the tattoo is placed, so you'll easily be able to look at several neck tattoo designs. Seek feedback from different artists to help you weigh your options.

Decide on the size of the tattoo you wish to have placed on your neck. This can be done even before you have selected the final design. A small, circular tattoo one inch in diameter is a common size for the neck. Some designs include a word scripted across the back of the neck or a word scripted vertically along the spine from the hairline to the collar of your shirt. Other designs include a religious cross or symbol, an insect, a sports team's logo, a heart containing the initials of a loved one or your country's flag. A tattoo artist will be able to help you choose a size that works for you, and explain what images work best on the neck.

Select a tattoo design with which you feel comfortable, is within your price range and that you feel the artist can successfully execute. Take as much time as is needed to ensure that you are ready for a tattoo on the nape of your neck, where many people will be able to see it.


Although a tattoo is a personal statement, you can speak with acquaintances who have tattoos to help you decide on a design for your neck.


If you're interested in a Chinese symbol that represents an important ideal to you, confirm the symbol actually stands for what it alleges by talking to someone fluent in Chinese.

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About the Author

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.