Legs offer an extremely versatile placement for tattoos. They’re great for tattoos of any style or size. If you’re struggling to figure out what to get, though, these shin tattoo ideas are about to make your choice a bit easier. No matter what your aesthetic is, one of these is sure to fit right in.

Photo: Unsplash

Minimalist Mushroom Linework Tattoo

As far as symbolism goes, legs represent stability. Feet are associated with feeling grounded and free, and knees are often used as a representation of a person’s convictions. Shins, as a placement that is nestled between these two, are associated with the emotions that sit behind those very convictions. As the Irish proverb notes, though, it’s best if you “don’t break your shin on a stool that isn’t in your way.”

This tiny mushroom is a good reminder that your energy will be better utilized in transforming and reshaping your life as opposed to being lost in worry and anxiety around the unknown.

Illustrative Linework Mushroom Fairy Tattoo

Mushrooms are also an important religious and spiritual symbol. They are most notably used to induce psychedelic experiences on the path toward enlightenment.

This stunning piece from tattoo artist Amarë shows the tiny fungi as fairylike creatures of the forests.

Fineline Sun and Moon Shin Tattoo Ideas

The sun and the moon are popular symbols, both in spirituality and tattooing. They represent duality, naturally, but this is interpreted differently across the world. To some, it represents the battle of light versus dark, or more specifically, enlightenment versus mystery. To others, they represent yin and yang, masculine and feminine, and strength and beauty.

This makes this combo perfect for placements that allow you to create a dual tattoo.

Sherlock Holmes Shin Tattoos

Another great way to represent duality is through a pair of characters that are polar opposites yet balance each other out perfectly. In the case of this tattoo, that pair just so happens to be the genius detective Sherlock Holmes and his loyal and courageous partner, Dr. John Watson.

Blackwork Rabbit and Hound Shin Tattoos

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Duality, of course, can be more than the simple notion of “opposites attract.” It can also point to a fluid personality, and the ability to adapt to whatever the situation calls for. As the classic expression, “run with the hare and hunt with the hounds” points out, it sometimes pays to pick the right side.

Mushroom bong frog house sale


In this case, the right side is the stunning use of contemporary blackwork.

Fineline and Blackwork Shin Tattoo Ideas

Blackwork is one of the oldest styles of tattooing. It traces its roots to tribal tattoos and made its way through every era of the art, finding new life and blending seamlessly into each aesthetic.

These stunning blackwork tattoos blend the bold black look of traditional and tribal tattooing with the freeform fine line and sketch style art of new-school styles.

Abstract Smoke Line Tattoo Idea

The abstract style takes its cues from surrealism. Instead of trying to recreate something real, abstract tattoos use shapes and forms to build a concept. They’re wonderfully experimental, but can also be subtle and understated. And as this piece shows, you can extend abstract shin tattoos into a leg sleeve if you’re looking to go big.

Illustrative Blackwork Shin Tattoo

One of the most stunning new tattoo styles is the illustrative substyle. A blend of traditional fine line and modern sketch style, illustrative tattoos look identical to an artist’s sketchbook. When the style is used in a patchwork tattoo, such as this one, it has an air of sophistication to it.

Psychedelic Surrealist Shin Tattoo Idea

If the new-school style is up your alley but you still like traditional elements, you can embrace the psychedelic glory of neo-traditional styles.

Modern styles tend to rely on vibrant colors, experimentation, and crafting truly unique pieces. Neo-traditional styles were a precursor of sorts to this. As this trippy piece illustrates, you can, indeed, have the best of both worlds.

Neo-Traditional Botanical Shin Tattoo

Neo-traditional tattoos don’t, of course, have to be surreal. They can also be simple, minimalist, and magical.

Plant Vine Shin Tattoo Ideas

Botanical tattoos can also be trippy for reasons other than psychedelic imagery. As this piece shows, you can really make a tattoo pop with a few simple elements.

Floral Shin and Thigh Tattoo

Vines are also a great way to extend a shin tattoo outward to your feet and thighs.

Traditional Shin Tattoo Ideas

As gorgeous as neo-traditional and new-school styles are, though, traditional ones will never go out of style. Patchwork tattoos, which resemble patchwork quilts, can in theory seem haphazard. In reality, though, they are a lot like sketch style in that it looks like an artist’s kaleidoscopic visions brought to life.

Patchwork Shin Tattoo Ideas for Men

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Shin tattoo ideas for men often feature animal totems, such as dogs and bears, done in traditional old-school American styles. The classic blackwork of these pieces lends itself to gothic and punk aesthetics, but they’re easily adaptable to any look.

Patchwork Shin Tattoo Ideas for Women

Totems that are popular among women, such as butterflies, are often symbols of transformation, change, and creativity. Patchwork for women often includes botanical fillers, as well as ornamental and spiritual symbols.

Trippy Ornamental Eye Tattoos

Spiritual symbols like mandalas and precious gemstones are a big part of what makes ornamental tattoos so mesmerizing. When put together, these tattoos look like jewelry. Some, such as this piece, resemble South Asian and Middle Eastern henna designs, a popular form of temporary tattooing that uses dyes and stains alongside cultural and spiritual symbols.

Old-School American and Ornamental Tattoo Ideas

If you’re still unsure of your aesthetic, it helps to have a visual aid to compare. And there are few examples quite as crystal clear as this one.

The gorgeous and colorful patchwork tattoo includes florals and nautical elements. The ornamental design sticks to blackwork and fine line. All of these are done in the traditional style, yet give off completely different vibes.

New-School Mix-and-Match Tattoo Idea

Still unsure of what style suits you best? Maybe a blend of all of the above is what you need.

The shin tattoos in this patchwork use both traditional blackwork as well as some neo-traditional elements. The rest of the sleeve, however, also includes new-school linework and sketch style. The tattoos are also thematically diverse, ranging from poetically profound to snazzy and modern.

Keep Your Shin Up

Leg tattoos are often thought to be a rather bold choice. After all, it’s not easy to hide them, particularly when they’re large or colorful. And as these shin tattoo ideas show, the placement does provide room for some truly unique and quirky pieces. This makes it the perfect canvas for the rebellious and expressive soul.

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