They say the best things come in small packages. In this case, the best things come in small tattoos – very, very small tattoos. Micro tattoos, to be exact. Hart & Huntington Orlando tattoo artist Scott Irwin, affectionately known as "Cool-Aid," describes a micro tattoo as "the same as a normal tattoo, just microsized. It still has all the details and all the punch that a normal tattoo has – it's just smaller." How small are micro tattoos? According to Cool-Aid, "These tattoos are typically no bigger than a 50-cent piece."
Micro tattooing started taking off around five years ago, thanks partly to the many celebrities opting for tiny tattoos that could easily be concealed. They started showing up on stars like Justin Bieber, Zayn Malik, Rihanna, and Gigi Hadid, to name a few. Today, they're one of the biggest trends in body art.
"Not every collector wants to have a massive tattoo. They may love the art, but they don't want it taking up a big portion of their body."
This makes micro-tattooing an excellent option for those who want less conspicuous ink. It took Cool-Aid a minute to wrap his head around the shift from large pieces of body art to micro-sized tattoos.
"When I began micro tattooing, I still had this impression that everybody wanted large tattoos. And I'm starting to discover that's not the case. People can have a very high-level skill tattoo that doesn't take up a large percentage of their body. And there are a lot of people who are really content with that. They're actually happier with micro tattoos because somehow it's a little bit more intimate or it's more personal for them."
New tattoo styles like micro tattooing have opened the door to a world of possibility, not just for the people getting the ink but for artists as well.
"There are so many artists pushing the envelope and showing us what's possible. I'm excited because I found this niche I enjoy. And it's nice to be able to provide this service for people—a lot more people than I expected."
When it comes to micro-tattooing, the devil is in the details. Micro tattoos are exactly the same as traditional tattoos, only minimized. Creating a micro tattoo takes a highly skilled artist, and Cool-Aid is up for the challenge.
"Everything's just so small. The challenge of creating a piece of art requiring a very high skill level is really fun, though. If there's any flaw, you'll see it 10 miles away. It took me a long time to get to this point. To be able to do this."
You may be wondering if there are any limitations when choosing a tattoo that is so small. The good news is whatever tattoo you would get in a standard size; you can get as a micro tattoo. Cool-Aid has created micro tattoos in everything from portraits to scenery. Two of his favorite micro tattoos were a droid from Star Wars and a photo-realistic cheeseburger with glistening cheese that he did on fellow Hart & Huntington team member, Todd!
"A woman came in asking for a droid from Star Wars. And I asked her, 'can I make it really small?' She agreed to it. So I tattooed this thing the size of a quarter. The kicker was the insane amount of details—nuts and bolts, lots of lines. And it was so tiny. Not only did I pull it off, but she was laughing—a lot. When we were finished, I laughed too because it was so cute and dainty and a fun experience. Of course, she returned maybe six months later, so I could see it fully healed and perfect. That was the real test for me. It looked amazing."
Now that you're inspired to get a micro tattoo, we turned to the expert to find out what you need to know. "If you're getting a micro tattoo too, choose a flat part of the body—forearms, inner arms, legs. Stay away from feet because the visual is so far away, and when you can't see it up close, it may come off as looking like a blemish," says Cool-Aid.Cool-Aid will continue to push the envelope on tattoo styles. He's working on Realism micro tattoos and postage-size tattoos that resemble a photo.
"To me, these just have an incredible look. They're a conversational piece for the collector. When it comes to smooth shading, something that's small, it's very much a less is more scenario."
In life—and tattoos—it’s the little things that mean the most. You'll find that getting a micro tattoo is like the best-kept secret if you choose to conceal it and a masterful work of art for others to admire if it's visible. If you're inspired to get a micro tattoo, set up a consultation with one of our tattoo artists who will be happy to help you with the process.