Ear tattoos are delicate and often intricate designs that are small in scale, like micro tattoos. For tattoo artists, tattooing on or around the ear is particularly challenging. Not only are ears funny in shape, but they are also harder in parts due to the cartilage that forms them. For a person getting tattooed, ear tattoos are also a challenge because our ears have more nerve endings than other parts of the body. That means that getting an ear tattoo can be an extremely painful experience.
Have you ever heard a tattoo gun? When it gets very close to the ear the sound can be unnerving. Imagine being at the dentist’s office and how horrible the drills sound. A tattoo gun is similar, but with the loud buzzing directed right into your ear canal. Many tattoo artists and patrons instead opt for alternative methods of tattooing like stick-and-poke which utilizes the needles without the mechanics of a gun. These make the ear tattoos more manageable for the person being tattooed and gives the artist the opportunity to achieve a more precise design. Ear tattoos are a playful form of self-expression and people are getting some truly fun ear tattoos these days.
These Ear Tattoos Are Way Better Than Any Piercing!
Leaves of Change
Just wow! Look at these tiny maple leaves. Somehow the tattoo artist has managed to utilize a wide variety of colors ranging all the way from green to red and even purple. This is so impressive.
How cute is this tiny red heart? We love a red ink tattoo and this adorable one is super clean and very neat. We imagine most people mistake this ear tattoo for a stud earring.
According to the person who captioned this photo, the line across the ear is supposed to represent a brushstroke. The tattoo is a tribute to his grandfather who was an artist. A sweet, touching, and really fresh-looking tattoo. It’s one of our favorite ear tattoos on this list!
A Tiny Moon
This super-duper small crescent moon tattoo in the inner ear is easy to look past. If you’re looking for an ear tattoo that doesn’t draw too much attention, consider a similar placement inside the folds of the ear.
This very delicate leaf tattoo creates the illusion that it’s coming through the ear. This very smart and effective design you’ll find a couple more times on this ear tattoos list.
For an Elf
The person who posted this photo said she got this tattoo of leaves “for an elf.” It’s a magical thought considering these very small leaves would be the perfect size for a mini, mystical creature.
Big & Decorative
This tattoo is so fashionable. The design looks almost like jewelry which creates an overall polished look. For something that dazzles, consider ornamental ear tattoos!
A cheerful smiley face is always welcome to the party! We love this tiny little smile and how it’s slightly hidden within a fold of the ear. What a pleasant surprise.
Lots o’ Dots
The tattoo that sits in front of the ear is the ever-popular cobweb. Beyond that, you’ll find a super fun mandala-inspired design that’s been achieved by tons of tiny dots. Aren’t ear tattoos the coolest?
These spooking lines look like they’ve fallen across the year. It’s an ambitious design that the tattoo artist managed to pull off. You’ll see two things a lot when you look at ear tattoos: abstract patterns and flowers.
Snakes are so gross! But, this one manages to charm. Using a stick and poke method lends to very fine, sharp lines. It’s been expertly applied here and will be the case for many ear tattoos.
This handsome ear tattoo comes from Poland. This abstract design is the perfect decorative touch!
It’s amazing the amount of detail the artist was able to get on this flower tattoo. Unlike the more subtle designs, you can tell exactly what this one is. It’s so cute!
How is this even real? This super tiny tulip tattoo looks just like the real deal! This probably took forever with a single needle. It was definitely worth the effort! It’s one of the most charming ear tattoos on this list!
This tattoo covers a lot of the upper ear and looks more like an abstract painting than anything else. The lines extending to the face also give the design a futuristic aesthetic.
Blue ink always looks so wonderful on warm skin tones. The only downside to this tattoo is that it’s going to make the ear look even redder if they get flushed. These delicate leaves are simple and very pretty.
These wavy lines of bold, neon color are unique and stunning. They almost resemble little flames. For electric ear tattoos, consider bold, neon colors!
These charming black and purple flowers look almost like a pattern you would find painted on china. Purple and black always go well together. This is such a cute design.
Webs We Weave
You can’t come to a tattoo listicle and not find a web tattoo somewhere. This very cute little web is perfectly placed to compliment the shape of the ear.
A Snake Passing Through
We applaud bold choices! This psychedelic snake has a galaxy-themed body with plenty of colors to make it stand out. We realize that getting a snake across the face is not going to be for everyone, but we wanted you to know the creative places you can take an ear tattoo.
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Nothing is more glorious than the sunrise. We often take it for granted but it’s a magical moment we enjoy every single day. This stick and poke tattoo beams with energy.
If you’re more of a moon person, here’s are ear tattoo that captures celestial bodies from space. These are other examples of a stick and poke that uses many tiny dots to form the shapes of the stars and planets.
This is what happens when a tattoo gun is used to tattoo the ear. You get a heavier line and less detail. While we do like the white ink that’s been used to highlight, this tattoo looks heavy-handed.
MORE TO EXPLORE: 31 Beautiful Ear Tattoos That Are Better Than Piercings
This very cute rainbow tattoo makes the most out of the limitations of ear tattooing by only using simple dots and fine lines. We love all of the colors on display in these darling ear tattoos.
A Stencil Inspired Tatt
This ear tattoo was inspired by a stencil intended for painting. The tattoo artist used the stick-and-poke method to create such a sharp design. If you look closely, you can see what looks like little specks of paint, presumably from the “stencil.” It’s such a beautiful and unique design.
A Hidden Rose
This charming micro tattoo behind the ear is stunning and looks like it might have been lifted from a piece of wallpaper or china. Ear tattoos behind the ear are popular for women because they’re easy to disguise behind hair.
A Geometric Sick and Poke
Another stick-and-poke job with this amazingly executed tattoo. A repeating geometric pattern looks almost like a checkerboard inside the ear. It’s one of the most thrilling ear tattoos on this list!
A Vulture Skull
Points for creativity! A cartoonish vulture skull rests directly behind this person’s ear. With minimal shading, this tattoo is fun and pretty unusual.
A Sprawling Slitherer
This cool double-headed snake extends from behind the ear over into it and then there’s an optical illusion that makes it look like the snake is going through the ear. This tattoo was achieved by using a technique called dot work. Do you see all the little, tiny dots? How long do you think this took?
An Understated Design
Simplicity is bliss and these ear tattoos capitalize on the idea with a few lines and dots. This modernist design is probably going to go unnoticed until its pointed out.
A Tiny Tulip Part II
Flowers are popular designs for ear tattoos. Here’s a little 2-D tulip, hidden inside the ear.
A Piece of the Puzzle
This piece of a jigsaw puzzle fits right in! This cute micro tattoo inside the ear was probably a pain to get done but the finished product is a fun one.
A Bit of Lavender
This tattoo of lavender is actually a coverup tattoo that was done to cover some scarring this person had from piercings. Do you see any scarring? What an excellent job both covering up what was there before, but also creating the delicate lavender flowers.
A Mandala Ear Tattoo Part II
Traditionally, a mandala is a geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. Today, the designs are taking the idea and running with it. This loose interpretation around the ear is stunning. It was completed using a dot work technique and seems to fade as it gets closer to the ear.
A Safari for the Ear
This giraffe tattoo behind the ear is truly adorable. The giraffe looks like it’s whispering into the ear!
A Floral Arrangement
This super delicate Asian design looks almost as if it’s been painted on like a watercolor. The design wraps around the ear and onto the lobe. What a beauty.
A Wing Thing
Who doesn’t love a butterfly tattoo? These micro ear tattoos look like they’re actually just sitting behind this person’s ear.
We can always get behind an Alice in Wonderland-themed anything, so this tattoo was already a winner. A grinning Cheshire cat behind the ear is a bold choice. It’s slightly creepy but mostly fun!
A Seahorse, Of Course
As you can see, the tattoo artist has used a piece of medical tape to hold the ear out of the way so that they can tattoo. This cute and bubbly seahorse behind the ear is adorable and super easy to hide away.
A Greta Gerwig Fan
We don’t know if this tattoo was inspired by First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, or by Greta Gerwig’s film, Lady Bird. Does it really matter? This fun tattoo is a conversation starter.
A Crescent Moon Part II
We’re all about a cat! While this might not be the Cheshire cat, these two black cats certainly make an impression. This dot work tattoo is so small that the tails of each cat are simply tiny dots! What a stunning little charmer.
A Humming in the Ear
This very realistic-looking hummingbird tattoo is a feat to have that much detail and shading at that size. This sweet, micro tattoo looks like it’s about to kiss the ear.
This is a silly tattoo, but we love it. The cute goldfish with bubbles climbing up from the neck and onto the ear was a cute touch. It’s one of the most whimsical ear tattoos on this list!
A Hidden Skull
Woah! This skill tattoo took some seriously precise linework. We like when spooky ear tattoos are a little hidden. It gives them a sense of mystery and makes them even spookier.
Micro ear tattoos are trending because they essentially take up as much real estate as an earring. This teeny-tiny heart and airplane convey a love of adventure and travel. It’s clear someone likes flying way more than us! This tattoo design was most likely achieved using poke-and-stick.
Lavender Ear Climber Round II
There is no longer a need for ear climbers when you can simply get a beautiful lavender flower all the way up your ear. How beautiful is this?
A Thousand Tiny Dots
This ear tattoo seems to be made up of a thousand tiny dots. How cool is this piece of body art?
Tiny Dots, Delicate Design
Simple, yet understated. These tiny dots create a beautiful design around this person’s ear, just like piercings would. We imagine these little ear tattoos will look great on anyone!
Teeny Tiny Ear Heart Part II
It may be small and simple but it really adds to the jewelry this woman already has! Ear tattoos that mimic jewelry are so much fun!
A Delicate Flower
How cool is this ear tattoo that seamlessly incorporates a piercing as well. Pierced ear tattoos are a trend worth watching.
Shine Bright Like a Diamond
Why wear diamond earrings when you can just get a diamond permanently tattooed on your ear?
Who says ear tattoos can’t be playful? This polka dot pattern looks fantastically weird and we think any sort of pattern like it will look fantastic on you.
Abstract & Marvelous
Abstract, multiple ear tattoos make it look as if you’ve put in a lot of thought and effort into your look. These triangle shapes look fantastic and are the right size, shape, and placement for each location.
For the Faithful
Here’s a very crisp cross tattoo that looks so subtle and sophisticated. If you want to get a tribute to your faith, ear tattoos prove a great way to do it in a small way!
Unalomes represent the path to enlightenment in Buddhism. The spirals symbolize the twists and turns in life, and the straight lines the moment one reaches pure enlightenment or peace and harmony.
How great do these dots look in a radial pattern? We love the varying sizes that get larger as they move away from the center. It’s a really cool effect!
Wow! These ear tattoos are so unworldly. It’s amazing how the lines seem to stay connected over the ridges of the ear. The overall look is so fluid and intriguing.
Love for the Lobe
These abstract shapes accentuate the natural shape of the ear so well. These ear tattoos look so mysterious in the bold blocks of black ink. Bravo!
Tucked Back There
Ear tattoos behind the ear but on the ear are like a little secret tucked away for someone special. In this design, we find an abstract shape that looks vaguely like barbed wire.
We leave you with these ear tattoos that are almost parallel lines but have a slight wave to give them a more organic look. It looks fantastic and we imagine many people would be very happy walking away with something similar!
Ear tattoos are such a blast, when taken care of properly, they heal faster than a piercing. These ear tattoos can be hidden behind the ear or displayed proudly on it. If you’re thinking about getting an ear tattoo, make sure you find an artist with plenty of experience that you can trust. Don’t play it by ear (so sorry)! Most tattoo artists are going to have practice tattooing on ears (pig ears are commonly tattooed for practice before human ones). Once you’ve found someone that you are confident with, have fun with your design ideas and come up with something that you’ll love.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 These Ear Tattoos Are Way Better Than Any Piercing!
- 2 Leaves of Change
- 3 More Love
- 4 A Brushstroke
- 5 A Tiny Moon
- 6 Botanic
- 7 For an Elf
- 8 Big & Decorative
- 9 Spread Happiness
- 10 Lots o’ Dots
- 11 Swooping Lines
- 12 Baby Snake
- 13 A Splash
- 14 A Blossom
- 15 Tulip Dream
- 16 Dripping Ink
- 17 More Leaves
- 18 Rad Colors
- 19 Flower Power
- 20 Webs We Weave
- 21 A Snake Passing Through
- 22 Sunshine
- 23 Celestial
- 24 Dragon
- 25 Rainbow Color
- 26 A Stencil Inspired Tatt
- 27 A Hidden Rose
- 28 A Geometric Sick and Poke
- 29 A Vulture Skull
- 30 A Sprawling Slitherer
- 31 An Understated Design
- 32 A Tiny Tulip Part II
- 33 A Piece of the Puzzle
- 34 A Bit of Lavender
- 35 A Mandala Ear Tattoo Part II
- 36 A Safari for the Ear
- 37 A Floral Arrangement
- 38 A Wing Thing
- 39 A Cheshire Cat
- 40 A Seahorse, Of Course
- 41 A Greta Gerwig Fan
- 42 A Crescent Moon Part II
- 43 A Humming in the Ear
- 44 A Goldfish
- 45 A Hidden Skull
- 46 An Adventurer
- 47 Lavender Ear Climber Round II
- 48 A Thousand Tiny Dots
- 49 Tiny Dots, Delicate Design
- 50 Teeny Tiny Ear Heart Part II
- 51 A Delicate Flower
- 52 Shine Bright Like a Diamond
- 53 Polka Dots
- 54 Abstract & Marvelous
- 55 For the Faithful
- 56 Unalome
- 57 Radial
- 58 Swirls
- 59 Love for the Lobe
- 60 Tucked Back There
- 61 Lined
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