Teenagers are always looking for ways to express themselves. For the 18-and-up crowd, tattoos are a simple and stylish way to break the mold. It’s like being able to carry your favorite piece of art (or a meaningful word/phrase) with you at all times. We’ve found 81 modern designs ranging from subtle to eye-catching that are perfect for any teens trying to make a statement or immortalize something they care about.
- Watercolor Fox
Watercolor tattoos are simple, tasteful, and becoming increasingly popular to boot. With its subtle ombre effect and delicately placed lines, this sly, gorgeous fox will have all eyes on you!
- Quote, Roses, and Dagger
This beautifully executed design juxtaposes harsh and soft imagery to create a truly unique design. Personalize the text to speak to your values and you’ll have a badass one-of-a-kind tattoo.
- Surrealist Skulls
This one’s absolutely breathtaking. The skilled shading and innovative subject matter will have people talking for sure. Combining imagery from different cultures with different visual styles is a surefire way to make a statement.
- Cute Cat
Meow! This minimalist design is great for the feline enthusiast; dainty and delicate. It’s an elegant tattoo that would be at home almost anywhere on your body.
- Regal Scepter
If you’re a fan of graphic novels, fairy tales, or mythology, this one’s for you. The scepter and necklace design evokes royalty, while the bright colors and cartoon-like shading are straight out of a comic book.
- Romantic Quote
Ah, an all-time classic. Romantic quotes in an italic font placed almost anywhere on the body are the perfect way to wear your heart on your sleeve (or shoulder, or ankle…).
- Punk Rock Perfection
For the skater boy or girl looking to express themselves: you’ve come to the right place. This simple yet graphic skateboard tattoo is the perfect way to scream your passion to the world.
- Classy French Quote
Absolutely beautiful. The handwritten script-like font, the French quote — this is truly a sophisticate’s tattoo. Who says tattoos can’t be classy?
- Motivational Quote and Graphic
A reminder for those days when you can’t seem to find the strength to go on. With this tattoo, it’ll be easy to carry your inspiration with you at all times while simultaneously making a bold and stylish statement.
- Eclectic Collection of Objects
Haven’t decided on what you want to get tattooed? Who says you have to pick just one? This quirky masterpiece brings together a variety of different designs and leaves us wondering just what the wearer’s trying to say.
- Ship and Feather
Complementary tattoos on opposite forearms always look great. This one features delicately shaded designs underscored by some script-like text (including the name of an amazing Modest Mouse song!).
- Map of the World
International relations major? Travel maven? Cartographer? Hippie? If you love the whole world and can’t help but show it, this one’s for you. Its clean lines and simplified design make it an instant classic.
- Inspirational Quote and Graphic
How do you make your favorite quote better? By illustrating it, of course. The little bird at the end of this well-loved phrase really brings it to life. Remember to stay positive and keep flying! With this tattoo, that won’t be too hard.
14. Inkblot Clock
Wow. This one’s truly a work of art. Taking a classic graphic design and embellishing it with the inkblot pattern makes a world of difference. The jet-black details make the clock face look all the more precise and delicate.
- Utterly Badass Quotes
For the rebellious teen looking to make a real statement. But beware: a tattoo like this will definitely start some interesting conversations! Nothing you can’t handle, though.
16. Witty Copyright
This one’s for the semi-ironic jokesters out there. Just insert your birth year and you’re ready to go!
- Anchor and Quote
This classic design’s perfect for the nautically-inclined. You can’t go wrong with artfully shaded, simple shapes like the ones featured here. Anchors away! This one’s a keeper.
- Flawless Floral Sleeves
The rich, vivid colors and shading on this tattoo really bring it to life. While sleeve tattoos can become overpowering, this one’s delicate enough to remain pretty while still providing a little bit of edge.
- Adventure Time
Adventure time, c’mon grab your friends, we’re going to very distant lands… like the tattoo parlor! This cute design, celebrating fan-favorite characters Jake the Dog and Finn the Human, is playful, witty, and beautifully executed.
Now this is something we’ve never seen before. Skulls are a classic tattoo motif, but taking a standard design and putting a modern spin on it has really paid off here. With a tattoo like this, you’ll definitely be turning heads.
- Spooky Tree
With its reddish-sepia undertones and strangely mesmerizing twisted growth, this tree tattoo is as evocative as a piece of poetry. You can almost feel an October wind in your hair just from looking at it.
- Peaceful Quote
Wow, these really are words to live by. The delicate script they’re written in makes them all the more powerful. This would make a beautiful ribcage or forearm tattoo — really, it would look great anywhere.
- Calligraphed Wisdom Forearm Tattoo
This tattoo’s bold message and unique placement ensure that it’s guaranteed to shock and awe. Pairing it with flirty, feminine outfits like the one pictured here makes a definite fashion statement.
- Giraffe Forearm Tattoo
Nature-lovers, this is the tattoo for you! Getting a beautiful rendition of your favorite animal is always a great way to go. This clean-lined giraffe with lovely shaded spots would be at home on any arm.
25. Wraparound Graphic
With its geometric shapes and tribal-inspired colors, this tattoo reminds us of a piece of turquoise jewelry more than anything else. If you’re looking for a permanent accessory that’ll complement any makeup look or outfit, this is it!
Do you need direction in your life? This is the design for you! All jokes aside, this classy and minimalist tattoo would be an absolutely beautiful adornment on anyone.
- Baby Handprint
Aww, how sweet! This sentimental inkblot design is unique and holds a lot of emotional value. Whether you’re celebrating a child or looking forward to one, this is a gorgeous way of communicating that hope to the world.
- The Little Mermaid Forearm Tattoo
Stunning! This minimalist mermaid is perfect for the diehard Disney fan who’s also concerned with aesthetic. It’s truly amazing how this tattoo artist was able to convey so much in just a few perfectly-colored, perfectly-placed lines.
- Lunar Cycle
Any moon goddesses (or gods) out there? This delicately placed circle depicting the lunar cycle is a truly wonderful celebration of nature and seasonal passage. The light sepia washes are tastefully done and help to inject some lovely shading into this forearm tattoo design.
- Graphically-Arranged Text
What a beautiful combination this is. The lovely triangulated eye and inspirational ribcage tattoo make for a truly awe-inspiring and evocative, yet still subtle, display.
- Lion and Triangle
King of the jungle, indeed. This lion leaps right off the skin; its depth and shading really are remarkable. If you’re a Leo or just a regal, proud individual who feels some kinship with this majestic beast, this tattoo would be a perfect celebration of your best qualities.
Gorgeous doesn’t even come close to describing this one. The stark contrast between the jet-black leaves and blank petal tips lends the design so much depth. A tattoo like this would complement any outfit you could put together.
- Simple Flower Forearm Tattoo
Sometimes less is more. This minimalist flower is elegant without being overwhelming — truly a delicate masterpiece. We could see a tattoo like this enlarged to cover a shoulder or as a tiny finger/behind-the-ear design.
We love simple, graphic tattoos like this. If you can say what you want in a couple of lines, then why not? Minimalist designs make good additions to the experienced wearer’s collection but are also perfect options for tattoo novices.
- Baroque Beauties
This design looks like it’d be at home in a Gothic art museum. The bone-white and ruby-red elements are absolutely striking against the wearer’s pale skin and the tattoos’ dark, ornate framing. If you’re going for a particular aesthetic, consider getting a set like these.
36. Birds and Skulls
This combination of designs makes for a truly unique tattoo. The birds on the wearer’s shin convey a sense of vitality that stands in direct contrast to the surreal skull rendered on her forearm. Try incorporating thematic contradictions like this to leave everyone guessing.
- Forearm Ferns Tattoo
Wow. These delicate leaves look like a lithograph straight out of an old-timey biology textbook. This is the perfect way to express your love for the natural world through a timeless, intriguing design.
- Robot Arm
Now this is clever! What better way to play with the idea of body modification than to get a tattoo “exposing” the machinery inside? This design is so well-executed that if you squint your eyes, it’s hard to tell this isn’t real.
39. Interwoven Triangles
This design is reminiscent of Celtic knots in its strikingly graphic simplicity. If you’re looking for a timeless tattoo that goes well with everything, consider one like this that features simple shapes.
- Framed Flower
This is another of those tattoos that instantly reminds you of jewelry. Its radial symmetry and delicate embellishments evoke exotic body ornamentation; this design is a perfect way to spice up your everyday looks.
- Watercolor Flower
We’re absolutely in love with this one. So delicate, yet so striking. It looks so real it could be plucked from the wearer’s forearm, yet it’s alluring in its simplicity and whimsical use of color. This wispy, uber-feminine tattoo is guaranteed to please.
- Geometric Sleeve
We love seeing new takes on the sleeve tattoo. This lotus-inspired fractal pattern has really won us over — it combines the classic flower motif with the edginess of a sleeve tattoo and a fresh breath of modernity.
- White Ink Flower
White ink is the new “it” trend, and with tattoos like this one floating around, it’s not hard to understand why. This delicate take on an old standard (the outwardly radiating flower) makes a statement while remaining totally elegant.
- Radiating Flower
Another classic design updated for the modern wearer. This beautiful grayscale design is transformed into something innovative, edgy, and modern by the addition of a few well-placed dashed lines. It’s all in the details!
- Scale-like Sleeve
Now this is a sleeve worth fawning over! We love how it extends onto the back of the hand — truly a unique touch that is sure to get you noticed. The feather-like tattoo texture and the tasteful inclusion of some blank spaces also add interest.
46. Heart Maze
Another clever, beautiful design. This wearer quite literally presents us with a “map to his heart” through this evocative tattoo.
- Whimsical Landscape
For the nature lover who isn’t afraid to say it out loud. This gorgeous, graphic design is a wonderful celebration of local flora shaded with a careful hand.
- Solar System
This design has a whimsical quality to it that we can’t help but love. That childlike wonder, combined with a string of masterfully shaded planets, makes this tattoo a must-have.
- Radiating Elbow Flower
If you’re looking for a way to make a flower tattoo rugged and masculine, you’ve come to the right design. We love how the spiky leaves bordering this tattoo give it a punch of much-needed edge.
- Tribal Bird
Lovely, simple, and a throwback to old times. Using different art styles is a surefire way to end up with a tattoo that’ll set you apart from the crowd. Whether you’re celebrating your heritage or just paying homage to an ancient civilization, designs like this let you do it in style!
- Impossible Triangle
A little bit of geeky and a whole lot of cool. We can’t stop looking at this tattoo — the combination of galaxy print and optical illusion has us mesmerized. The wearer’s decided to give it an artsy twist (through the addition of inkblots and drips) that only enhances an already-fabulous design.
- Puppy Portraits
This is too cute for words! If you’re the sentimental type, try getting your adorable pets tattooed onto you. It’s a surefire conversation-starter and allows you to carry your furry best friends with you wherever you go.
- Flowers and Moon
This tattoo is a perfect demonstration of why shading makes all the difference. These flowers would be lovely on their own, but they’re absolutely striking against the backdrop of a half-shadowed moon. We’re really digging the textural contrasts between foreground and background — they make the design “pop.”
- Linear Lunar Cycle
This one’s a minimalist take on the ever-popular lunar cycle design. The subtlety is truly outstanding; it just goes to show that you can make a statement without necessarily being bold.
- Watercolor Map
The use of color in this whimsical tattoo really brings it to life. It combines the ever-growing allure of watercolor elements with the classic beauty of line drawings to create a truly remarkable design.
- Triangulated Flowers
This tattoo is feminine and subtle without being over-the-top. If you’re looking for a flower design that isn’t self-indulgent, this graphically modern update would be perfect for you!
This one’s for the nerds out there. Why not get your favorite molecule tattooed? It’ll be an immediate conversation-starter for like-minded chemistry buffs (some popular options to get you started thinking are sugar, dopamine, and caffeine).
- Watercolor Umbrella
We love this witty and beautifully executed play on words. Using watercolors to represent rain is just such a clever idea! The thin, barely-there lines also make this feel more like a work of art than a traditional tattoo.
- Wraparound Theme Park
We’ve never seen anything like this before, but we love it. Getting a “wristband” tattoo is fun and original — it really changes the nature of whatever design you choose for the inside. This haunting theme park is just too evocative for words.
- Compass and Map
We love how this full-length tattoo takes a theme and really runs with it. The design reminds us of old-timey maps; it’s perfect for a wearer with a rugged aesthetic and would be a dream for any travel fanatics out there!
- Snarling Wolf
If you feel the wild calling to you, then so is this tattoo! This striking design is perfect for the fiercest guys and gals out there. The details really bring this wolf to life.
- Creepy Kids
We may not understand this tattoo, but we’re fascinated by it. It has a Burton-esque, charmingly horrific vibe that makes it a definite head-turner.
- Majestic Wolf
Another gorgeous watercolor tattoo! We’re loving the depth of color and shade in this design; it seems three-dimensional, an effect that makes this design stand out from the pack. This benevolent-looking wolf looks like it’s totally ready to guard its wearer against harm.
- Tree, Wave, Mountain
We can tell that this guy’s a nature lover. If you can’t pick a favorite outdoor feature, try commemorating your best-loved natural elements with a tattoo like this one. The clean lines and striking placements really set this design apart.
- Partial Skeleton
Morbid yet beautiful — what’s not to love? Skulls and skeletons are classic adornments, but we somehow never get tired of seeing them. With skillfully executed tattoos like this one floating around, that comes as no real surprise.
- Wraparound Flowers
Wow. This one almost looks like it was ripped out of an art student’s sketchbook. The sheer delicacy of this design is astounding; we love how it looks like a quick sketch rather than a standard line drawing.
If you like piña coladas, getting caught in the rain… then this tattoo’s for you! It’ll lend a tropical twist to any outfit without being over-the-top. Playful designs like this one never go out of style.
- Floral Skull
The flowers etched inside this skull’s outline emphasize the gorgeous shading and take the design to a whole new level. This tattoo exemplifies the edgy, feminine aesthetic that so many girls are sporting these days.
69. Moth and Crystals
This lovely design is perfect for the spiritual nature-lovers out there. The combination of flora, fauna, and sparkling crystals evokes tantalizing suggestions of magic and mystery. This is a real “personality tattoo.”
- Planar Hand and Pencil
Our money’s on this wearer being a majorly creative type. This design would look great on any artists or aspiring artists — everything about it, from the planes of the hand to the rainbow mist that the pencil’s suspended in, inspires us.
- Geometry and Abstraction
We’re gonna come right out and say it: this design belongs in a museum. The way it plays with light, shadow, form, abstraction, and repetition is truly remarkable. If you’re looking for a tattoo that speaks absolute volumes, this is a fantastic option to consider.
- Typewritten Quote
While we’ve expressed our appreciation for some gorgeously complex tattoos on this post, we’re also huge fans of minimalism. This typewritten affirmation is such an uplifting reminder to be present and appreciate the life we’ve been gifted.
Simple and sexy — this girl really knows her way around some ink. If you’re getting tattoos in several places, going with clean lines and graphic designs never fails.
- Galaxy Cat
I think all of us can relate to this little feline. For all you dreamers out there, this design would be a perfect choice: it’s beautiful, unique, and full of hope.
- Watercolor Leaf
We’re huge fans of the line-drawing and watercolor combination. We love how the gorgeous autumn colors are splashed onto this impeccably drawn leaf — it’s a clean statement with a little bit of artistic flair.
This wintry-looking tree is the perfect addition to your cold-weather ensemble. It’s simple, graphic, and aesthetically pleasing.
- Dual Landscapes
Pairing two thematically related designs always works. We love tattoos that tell a story and look great, to boot. When you can have style and substance at the same time, why choose?
- Minimalist Wave
It’s amazing how one simple line can carry so much power and meaning. Whether you’re a surfer, a marine biologist, an ocean-lover, or someone who just appreciates waves, this tattoo is a lovely low-key addition to any look.
- Tree with Roots
This is an example of a simple design rendered in so much detail that it becomes a larger piece. We’re digging the addition of roots to this tree — it really grounds the whole image.
- Watercolor Lotus
This lovely lotus is pretty much a perfect tattoo. We love the way the color’s spilling out of the line drawing; it’s a great artistic decision.
- Elephant Head
This Indian-inspired design is guaranteed to impress friends, family, and coworkers. The shading and intricate details make this a uniquely beautiful animal tattoo that also has some spiritual notes.
- Circular Flowers
This is another modern twist on the classic flower pattern. We love graphic shapes with delicately shaded designs inside them — this dainty yet striking tattoo is no exception.
- Atom Heart
This design perfectly blends the external and the internal for a tattoo that celebrates life on all its levels. We’re really loving the shading and the tree’s cloud-like foliage. It’s little details like those that can take a tattoo from good to great.
84. Edgy Floral Sleeve
A tattoo like this is the perfect choice for a statement-making gal who wants something feminine but badass. We love designs that allow the wearer to mix and match aesthetics!
- Interwoven Triangles
Another highly effective use of that famous watercolor technique. With its vivid colors and graphic shapes, this is a small tattoo that packs a big punch!
- Wraparound Wave
Wow, what a beauty! This tattoo is incredible in its ability to capture the motion and power of a wave (or splash of water). This fluid, gracefully drawn design is one that any of us would be more than proud to boast.
The gorgeous damask crimson color on these roses is truly stunning. We love the overall dark tones that lend this tattoo an impressive gothic effect.
- Solar System Silhouettes
This unique design is truly eye-catching. Most people choose to go dark against light for solar system tattoos, but the use of negative space here suggests that these planets are glowing from the inside. It’s a really magical effect that can be easily achieved!
89. Flowers and Beetle
This tattoo just looks like a beautiful spring garden to us. We’re absolutely fawning over designs like this that conjure up entire atmospheres. Can’t you just smell the flowers?
- Shaded Circle
Whether this tattoo is supposed to represent the moon or a lake or something completely different, we’re digging it. The subtle gradient effect from blue to green is gorgeously executed and ensures that all eyes will be on you.
- Trees by the Lake
This is another of those evocative tattoos that says more than words ever could. We love the subtle details that the artist has included, like the ripples around the trees’ bases and the birds fluttering around their leaves.
- Partial Sleeve
This clever artist has taken leaves and abstracted them just enough to create a beautifully geometric pattern. The partial sleeve makes this design bold but not too brash — perfect for the edgy teen who wants something “out there” but not crazy.
This beautiful collection of trees is just so tasteful and delicate; it proves that you don’t have to pick just one design if you want a simple and elegant tattoo.
- Circle Scene
The use of pointillism in this one is truly impressive. We love how it perfectly conveys a little slice of a beautiful nighttime vista. You can almost feel the wind in the trees when you look at it.
- Geometric Sketch
Now this is simply breathtaking. The light lines and deliberate placement that this tattoo features ensure that not a stroke is out of place. It all comes together to create a truly stunning effect.
- Crossed Plants
We don’t see this often. We’re not even sure what these plants are called, but they’re absolutely gorgeous. Less mainstream designs like this are guaranteed to provoke questions and start conversations.
97. Crescent Wave and Origami Boat
How whimsical! Designs like this allow you to embrace your inner child while making a bold and stylish statement at the same time. Looks like you really can have it all…
- Flowers and Leaves
Another homage to the natural world. We love this beautiful bouquet, which looks equally good up close and from a distance.
- Cat Faces
These photorealistic kitties are adorable and guaranteed to brighten up your day. This is a great way to commemorate a beloved pet or favorite animal — just be prepared for the compliments that will inevitably come your way!
- Flowers and Moon
If you’re a romantic at heart who loves nothing more than watching the moonlight dapple your garden, this is the perfect tattoo for you. Keeping it in grayscale just increases its elegance and quiet beauty.
101. Flower in Box
This is a classic design straight out of the pages of a 19th-century Romantic novel. We love how simple and gorgeous it is!
- Graphic Design and Color Splashes
This design incorporates two different styles of art — watercolor and bold lines — that come together to make this tattoo something really special.
- Lakeside Trees
This is another one of those evocative designs that suggests that there’s a whole new world behind the ink. We love it for its simplicity, its clean lines, and its beautifully blurred edges.
- Tiny Graphic
This tiny, delicately floral-looking design would look great placed anywhere on the body, but we really appreciate it as a forearm tattoo. It’s subtle and minimalist, intimate and well-executed.
- Sun, Earth, and Moon
We love the different styles used to depict the various heavenly bodies in this fantastic tattoo! The combination of clean lines and more pointillist approaches make up a truly beautiful design.
This is elegant and playful at the same time! The moon’s curious expression brings a whole new level of depth to this tattoo, which incorporates a variety of line weights to create a beautiful design.
- A Wise Quote
There’s something so inspiring about a simple, tiny quote placed anywhere on the body. It shows that you’re truly committed to this idea or phrase. Love it — eye-catching and meaningful at the same time.
- Abstract Spiral
We don’t know what this little sketch is or what it means, but we sure do love the way it looks!
- Mouth with Braces
We love the bright, playful colors and pop art style that this design features. Most teens opt for edgier-looking tattoos; this one is extremely unique and will definitely make you stand out from the crowd.
- Ant and House
Is this a tiny house or a giant ant? We may not know, but what we do know is that this tattoo makes a statement! It’s slightly cartoonish but not overly so, surreal without being too abstract.
- Waves and Origami Boat
These simplified waves fill up their frame, lending this inked image a movement that captures the eye and heart. It’s another one of those playful yet elegant tattoos that combines the best parts of adulthood and childhood!
- Love and Flowers
Just getting the word “love” tattooed is a powerful enough statement, but covering those letters in flowers makes it all the more beautiful: feminine and powerful, just like this design’s wearer.
- Roaring Lion
Wow! The vivid colors, large scale, and graphically cartoonish design make this tattoo a real stand-out. Its piercing eyes and gripping expression make the tattoo an undoubtable investment, but one that’ll really impress (if you’re ready for it!).
- Hand and Solar System
This is a new twist on the classic solar system motif. We always love innovative takes on old favorites, and this is no exception!
- State Outline
A beautiful, simple way to pay homage to your home state or your current place of residence. Either way, you’ll leave the tattoo parlor with a gorgeous little memorial to a state that means a lot to you.
How fitting that this is the last design on our list. A paintbrush, the tool of artists the world over — what better way to permanently express your individuality and creativity in ink?
Wow, 116 options to fit every aesthetic and preference. We may not have gotten everything on here, but we were pretty darn close. We hope this list has given you some ideas for great forearm tattoos; now, go forth and get inked!
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