by Tori Jones
Side Tattoo

Hey there, this is Tori, your trusty tattoo guru, and master of the needle. Now, buckle up, because we’re about to take a deep dive into the mesmerizing realm of women’s side (rib) tattoos. Yeah, you heard that right—side tattoos, those wicked whispers of artistry that hug your curves, making a statement that’s as unique as you are.

Now, you might be wondering, why the ribs? Well, aside from giving you an extra reason to show off that summer body, there’s an air of mystery and allure that these tattoos carry. Hidden most times, revealed at your discretion, they’re like a secret story etched in your skin, speaking volumes about your journey, your strength, your spirit.

Our exploration will take us back to the time when primitive tribes used body art as a rite of passage, a symbol of status, or a spiritual emblem. Fast forward to today, and we’re spinning this age-old tradition with our own unique blend of creativity and personal expression.

We’ll delve into the cultural symbolism and artistic influences behind these gorgeous designs. We’ll traverse from the Polynesian islands, home to the intricate tribal designs that pay homage to nature and the divine, to Japan, where the breathtaking Irezumi art has given life to mesmerizing dragons and stunning cherry blossoms that adorn the female form.

In this post, we’ll take you through a visual feast of diverse, inspiring and, frankly, jaw-dropping rib tattoo designs that’ll have you itching to get under the needle. You’ll learn about design elements to consider, how to choose the right style for you, and how to make your tattoo journey a story worth telling.

So, whether you’re a seasoned tattoo connoisseur, a curious newbie, or someone in between, buckle up, this ride is for all. It’s time to channel your inner goddess, embrace your fierceness, and let your side ink do the talking.

Welcome to the world of side (rib) tattoos, ladies and gentlemen, where every stroke tells a tale, every ink drop sings a song, and every design becomes a part of you. Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?

1. Rose Side Tattoo

Rose Side Tattoo
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Take a walk down memory lane with me. I recall the first time I laid my eyes on a rose tattoo, it was love at first sight. The beauty of a rose is undoubtedly enchanting, making it a popular choice for side tattoos. Now, here’s where it gets interesting.

Every color that a rose comes in has a different story to tell:

  • Red Rose: Ah, the classic symbol of love, passion, or even a memory of a departed loved one.
  • Pink Rose: It speaks volumes about grace, innocence, and affection.
  • Purple Rose: An epitome of enchantment and royalty.
  • Blue Rose: A symbol of the impossible or the unattainable.
  • Yellow Rose: Represents joy, friendship, luck, and protection.
  • Black Rose: Symbolizes death, mourning, and grief.

Whether you choose to have it in fine line black or grey or prefer the vibrant colors, the rose side tattoo is versatile. It’s an emblem of your love for someone or something, a tribute, or even a symbol of hope.

2. Heart side tattoo

Heart side tattoo
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Remember the moment when you fell in love? That fluttering feeling in your chest can be immortalized as a heart side tattoo, a timeless symbol of love, passion, or friendship. They can be dedicated to a loved one or even serve as a unique form of self-expression.

The creativity doesn’t stop at the standard heart shape. You could opt for an anatomically correct heart adorned with blossoming flowers. I’ve even seen some unique pieces with dream-catchers incorporated into the heart shape.

3. Full Side Tattoo

Full Side Tattoo
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If you’re someone who embraces adventure and novelty like my friend Rachel, full side tattoos can be your next obsession. Covering from the ribs to the thigh or hip areas, they can be a grand display of your creativity. Picture multicolor floral designs sprawling across your side, a vibrant declaration of your bold yet feminine spirit.

4. Butterfly Side Tattoo

Butterfly Side Tattoo
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Butterflies have a special place in the tattoo world, representing femininity, a tribute to a departed soul, or signifying a new chapter in life. My sister got a butterfly side tattoo after a significant transformation in her life. Their delicate beauty can be enhanced with vibrant colors or kept minimalistic with black and grey.

5. Small Side Tattoo

Small Side Tattoo
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Small side tattoos have been making waves for their simplicity and elegance. Perfect for the minimalistic souls or those on a budget, small tattoos can be anything from a heart, a flower, a moon, or even an abstract design. Don’t be fooled by their size – the delicate lines and patterns require an expert hand.

6. Abstract Side Tattoo

Abstract Side Tattoo
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Abstract side tattoos are like personal puzzles, expressing your emotions and life perspectives in a way that only you can understand. From a mix of lines and circles to a combination of different elements like the moon and snake, the abstract world of tattoos leaves room for a lot of creativity.

Take this journey of self-expression, delve into the world of side tattoos, and find the one that speaks to you. Just remember, every tattoo is a piece of art, your very own story, etched on your skin for the world to see.

7. Inspirational or Quote Side Tattoo

Inspirational or Quote Side Tattoo
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In a world that constantly tests us, quotes that resonate deep within can provide comfort and strength. Turning these meaningful words into side tattoos creates a beautiful reminder of the wisdom we carry.

Inspirational quote tattoos come in all shapes and sizes, and the options are as limitless as the lexicon. For some, a single word could encapsulate their journey, while others might lean towards an entire verse. They could range from an ode to perseverance, a gentle nudge to remain grounded, or even an expression of your personal mantra.

One of my friends inked “Still I rise” on her side, a tribute to Maya Angelou’s powerful poem that speaks to resilience and strength. The sight of it always sends chills down my spine.

8. Romantic Side Tattoo

Romantic Side Tattoo
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Romance isn’t just about candlelit dinners and hand-written letters; it’s about finding beauty in the ordinary, holding onto hope, and cherishing connections. A romantic side tattoo can capture this spirit wonderfully, allowing your sentimental side to shine through.

From images of lovers sharing a sweet kiss to symbols that hold a special place in your heart, there’s an array of designs to choose from. I’ve come across couples who’ve opted for matching tattoos – a testament to their bond and shared dreams. But whether it’s a multicolor heart or a fine-lined symbol, it’s about making your emotions visible on your skin.

9. Snake Side Tattoo

Snake Side Tattoo
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Snakes, notorious for their threatening representation, are surprisingly profound when it comes to tattoos. From symbolizing wisdom to portraying a cycle of life and change, snake tattoos carry a depth of meanings, both positive and negative.

Snake tattoos can be a metaphor for starting a fresh chapter in life, symbolizing renewal and transformation. One of my colleagues chose a snake tattoo after transitioning into a new career, marking his new beginning with striking black ink.

10. Japanese Side Tattoo

Japanese Side Tattoo
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Also known as Irezumi, Japanese tattoos are more than just visually appealing; they carry significant cultural connotations. An intricate weave of bold colors and motifs, they can range from dragons to peonies, each carrying their distinctive symbolism. Peonies, for instance, stand for riches and honor, while tigers signify strength.

My favorite memory involving Japanese tattoos was meeting an artist who had a full Japanese side tattoo extending from her ribs to her thighs. The artistry, storytelling, and symbolism involved was a sight to behold.

11. Dragon Side Tattoo

Dragon Side Tattoo
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Dragons are mythical creatures revered for their power and resilience. In a tattoo, they can be transformed into symbols of strength, wisdom, or even chaos, depending on cultural interpretations. From intricate designs sprawling across the side to tiny yet impactful images, dragon tattoos offer versatility and edge.

I remember a woman with a sea serpent-style dragon tattoo, which beautifully followed her silhouette. It was a testament to her strength and resilience, adding an air of mystery to her persona.

12. Fine Line Side Tattoo

Fine Line Side Tattoo
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For those who appreciate the subtle charm of simplicity, fine line side tattoos offer the perfect balance of elegance and understatement. These designs emphasize form over shading or color, resulting in a clean, minimalist aesthetic.

One design that has always captivated me is the simple wave. Symbolizing a love for the ocean and the constant motion of life, it captures an enormous sentiment in a seemingly simple depiction.

13. Bird Side Tattoo

Bird Side Tattoo
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There’s something inherently inspiring about birds, their ability to soar high and the freedom they embody. Bird tattoos can be a tribute to this spiritual freedom and our yearning for it.

Whether it’s a humble sparrow symbolizing homecoming or a vibrant hummingbird denoting hope and joy, bird tattoos can tell a myriad of stories. I recall meeting a sailor who had a swallow tattooed on his side, a mark of his sailing prowess and a symbol of his safe return home.

Each tattoo is a unique narrative, and each inked body is a canvas waiting to unfold its story. Whether it’s a single word or a grand Japanese tattoo, it’s about choosing the story you wish to tell.


Getting a rib tattoo can be a beautiful and meaningful form of personal expression. However, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Here are some potential risks and precautions you should consider:

Pain: The rib area is known to be one of the more painful spots to get a tattoo due to the proximity of the bone to the skin surface. While pain tolerance varies from person to person, be prepared for a bit more discomfort than with tattoos on fleshier areas of the body.

Infection: Like any tattoo, there’s a risk of infection if your tattoo isn’t properly cared for during the healing process, or if the tattoo parlor doesn’t maintain high standards of hygiene. Always ensure your tattoo artist uses a new, sterile needle, and follow their aftercare advice meticulously.

Allergic reactions: Some people may have an allergic reaction to the ink used in tattoos, leading to itchiness, redness, and even swelling. This is rare, but if you’re concerned, you can ask your tattoo artist to do a patch test with the ink beforehand.

Long Healing Process: Tattoos on the rib area may take longer to heal than other areas due to the constant movement of the torso with breathing, and the friction caused by clothing.

Potential Distortion: Due to the curved nature of the ribcage and potential changes in body weight over time, tattoos on this area may warp or distort.


  1. Research your artist: Make sure your tattoo artist is reputable, experienced, licensed, and maintains a clean working environment.
  2. Prepare for the session: Ensure you’re well-rested, hydrated, and have eaten before your tattoo appointment to help cope with the pain and to avoid any fainting spells.
  3. Follow aftercare instructions: Proper aftercare is crucial in preventing infections and ensuring your tattoo heals well. This will generally involve keeping the tattoo clean, moisturized, and avoiding certain activities like swimming or heavy exercise until the tattoo has fully healed.
  4. Wear appropriate clothing: Wear loose and comfortable clothing on the day of your appointment to allow easy access to the rib area and to avoid irritation after the tattoo session.
  5. Discuss the design and placement: Consult with your artist about the design and placement of your tattoo. They can provide valuable advice regarding how a design might warp or fade over time on the ribcage.

Remember, it’s your body, and you should never feel rushed or pressured into getting a tattoo. Take the time to consider your decision carefully, and make sure you’re fully informed about the process and potential risks.


In conclusion, choosing the perfect side tattoo is an intimate journey of personal expression and self-discovery. Whether you’re a minimalist contemplating a fine line tattoo or an adventurer leaning towards the mythical allure of a dragon, your chosen design will forever narrate your unique story. The side of your body is an ideal canvas as it provides ample space for any tattoo, from a small word to a large Japanese masterpiece, all while allowing for personal discretion or display, depending on your attire.

As for costs, they can fluctuate widely based on the complexity of the design, the expertise of the tattoo artist, and the time required for the session. A small, simple tattoo might set you back a couple of hundred dollars, while an elaborate, full-side tattoo could run into thousands. Always remember, it’s worth investing in a professional, experienced artist to ensure your health isn’t compromised and the end result is as magnificent as you imagined.

As beautiful and meaningful as tattoos can be, they aren’t without risks. Potential side effects include allergic reactions, skin infections, or scarring. Ensure you’re updated on your vaccinations and choose a licensed tattoo parlor that maintains top-notch hygiene standards. The healing process is as crucial as the inking process. So, be prepared to give your skin some TLC after getting inked.

Remember, the essence of tattoos lies not just in the ink, but in the stories they embody. As you embark on this journey of etching your narrative onto your skin, remember to trust your instincts, honor your story, and enjoy the ride. After all, it’s not just about the destination but also the journey that makes tattoos a truly transformative experience.

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