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40+ Quick & Easy Walk-in Tattoo Ideas [Plus Comprehensive Guide]

by Sherri Owens

If you're thinking of getting a walk in tattoo, don't expect anything too complicated due to time constraints. You'll probably only be able to get something small since your tattoo artist won't have enough time to properly prepare. Not all studios take walk-ins but my studio does, and one of the most frequent tattoos for walk-ins has to be small tattoos on the wrist, like dainty crosses.

But apart from tiny crosses, there are a bunch of other tattoo ideas that you can get during walk-ins. So, today, I thought about running through the best, and some other very important information that you'll like to know!

What are the Best Walk-in Tattoo Ideas?

Like I said, for walk-in sessions, you most of the time won't be able to get anything too complicated. But you should always speak to your tattoo artist about what you have in mind. He might be able to whip up what you want if he's fast, even if it's a bit more detailed.

Since it's recommended to go for basic tattoos during walk-ins, I've only touched on simple pieces that you can go for below.

Dog Paw Tattoo

I'd say this was one of the most emotional tattoos that I've ever done for a walk-in session. This young girl came in with a stencil of her dog's paw - she traced it a week before she put him down, and wanted a tattoo of it to honor him.

I understand if you don't have a stencil of your dog's paw around, or are just struggling to get one. So, you can always just get a standard dog paw tatted on to pay homage.

Here are some dog paw tattoos for your body art:

Plant Dog Paw Tattoo

Image by @flatstattoos via Instagram

Bold Ink Twin Dog Paw Tattoo

Image by @tattoopoint_tpd via Instagram

Dog Paw Print Tattoo with Watercolour

Image by @maurydecay_tattoos via Instagram

Real Dog Paw Tattoo

Image by @tattoobooking_tallinn via Instagram

Grey Ink Dog Paw Print Tattoo

Image by @kongsvinger_tattoostudio via Instagram

Black Ink Dog Paw Print Forearm Tattoo

Image by @jlee.tattooist via Instagram

Dog Paw Thigh Tattoo Piece

Image by @mxrcuslikedat via Instagram

Realistic Dog Paw Print Forearm Tattoo

Image by @elenartattoo via Instagram

Dog Face Paw Ankle Tattoo

Image by @limbo.tattoo.workshop via Instagram

Also, if you don't have a dog but have a cat, this type of tattoo design still works well. You can swap in your feline friend's paw instead of a dog's.

Small Cross Tattoo

You can also go for a small cross tattoo. It'd be a very fitting choice if you're a Christian who wants to honor their faith. There is not much detail in a cross- it's just 2 lines basically. So, it's perfect if you want a quick tattoo unannounced.

The last walk-in tattoo I did on a client actually was a small cross. It was a small, quick tattoo that I did on her wrist. So, maybe you can get your piece done there too.

Here are some cross tattoos:

Cross and Heartbeat Tattoo

Image by @rydelreib_tattoo via Instagram

Delicate Piece of Cross Tattoo

Image by @costellotattoostudio via Instagram

Decorative Cross Tattoo

Image by @vee.inked via Instagram

Flower Tattoo

I think flowers in general make for good tattoos. There's just a bunch of different flowers out there, with each having its own meaning. Like for instance, a rose can mean passion and love, while a peony can be a sign of good luck and prosperity.

Here are some flower tattoos:

Fine Line Lotus Back Tattoo

Image by @amourtattooinc via Instagram

Tiny Flower with Text Stem Tattoo

Image by @artetattooph via Instagram

Single Flower Forearm Tattoo

Image by @artetattooph via Instagram

Tiny Flowers Matching Tattoo

Image by @artetattooph via Instagram

Name Tattoo

If there's someone who means a lot to you, perhaps consider getting their name as your new tattoo. I'd say this is an especially good route to honor someone close to you who has passed away.

The name tattoo can be anywhere you want, but a good placement has to be on your chest - you'll be keeping your loved one's name near to your heart.

Also, to make the tattoo even simpler, you can always just do their initials instead of their name.

I do have to advise you to not just get anyone's name tattooed. I've done a couple of cover-ups where I've had to tattoo over clients' ex's names, so think hard about it first.

Here are some name tattoos:

Name with Tiny Heart and Black Birds Tattoo

Image by @ashoktattoowala via Instagram

Hittu Name with Heart Tattoo

Image by @ashoktattoowala via Instagram

Tattoo Designs of Initials

Image by @ashoktattoowala via Instagram

Names Tattoo on collarbone

Image by @tattoo_studio9 via Instagram

Skull Tattoo

You can pay homage to the impermanence of life by getting a small skull tattooed. Depending on if your tattoo artist has enough time, you can add a couple of elements to your skull tattoo, like a crow perhaps. This further ties into the idea of death, as crows are largely seen in graveyards.

Of course, you don't just have to stick with a human skull. It can be anything really. I recently did a bull skull, and I think the bull horns made the tattoo even more intimidating. So, maybe this is something you can also try.

Here are some skull tattoos:

Flaming Skull Forearm Tattoo

Image by @trilogyatelier via Instagram

Animal Skull Head Tattoo

Image by @valleyink via Instagram

Skull Head Arm Tattoo

Image by @soul_imagez_tattoo via Instagram

Half Sliced Skull Thigh Tattoo

Image by @universityinktattoo via Instagram

Sacred Heart Tattoo Piece

Image by @goodnight.tattoos via Instagram

Sun and Moon tattoo

Doing a sun and moon together isn't a complicated design yet it speaks volumes - together, the two do a good job of representing unity and harmony. You can actually add a few features to the sun and moon while tattooing to give them more dimension, like a face perhaps. I actually did this during a walk-in session recently - I added a more jovial look on the sun while I made the moon look like it was frowning.

Here are some sun and moon tattoos:

Tiny Sun and Moon Wrist Tattoo

Image by @ganesh_p_tattooist via Instagram

Sun and Moon Design Arm Tattoo

Image by @ariana_tattooing via Instagram

Combined Sun and Moon Tattoo

Image by @sincitytattoo_818 via Instagram

Small Animal tattoo

You can also get some kind of animal as your tattoo. You'll obviously have to keep it small and not too detailed. It can be anything you want. But a pro tip would be to go with an animal that represents how you feel: I've done tigers before for clients that wanted to showcase how tough they were, and ravens for clients that resonated with how intelligent they were.

Here are some animal tattoos:

Cute Kitten Tattoo

Image by @pinkshinetats via Instagram

Australian Shepherd Face Tattoo

Image by @paw.tattoo via Instagram

Tiger Head Hand Tattoo

Image by @bekmurrell via Instagram

Grey Lion Face Tattoo

Image by @finelinetattoosperth via Instagram

Colorful Cat and Rabbit Thigh Tattoo

Image by @kiera_tattoo via Instagram

German Shepherd Head Arm Tattoo

Image by @lanadelslaytattoos via Instagram

Cute Peeping Cat Tattoo

Image by @paw.tattoo via Instagram

Cute Puppy Faces Tattoo

Image by @yellow___ink via Instagram

Two Headed Calf Thigh Tattoo

Image by @tgoldenart via Instagram

Custom Bunny Arm Tattoo

Image by @sleepypalms via Instagram

Walking Raccoon Arm Tattoo

Image by @pearlclapp via Instagram

Coordinate Tattoo

If there's somewhere you've been that's very close to your heart, a simple tattoo idea that you can go for is the coordinates of the location. To make it more specific that it's coordinates and not just random numbers, you can get a map-pin as a part of the design.

Here are some coordinate tattoos for your body art:

Simple Coordinate Forearm Tattoo

Image by @west4tattoo via Instagram

Tiny Coordinate Forearm Tattoo

Image by @paigenovickink via Instagram

Coordinate Side Ribs Tattoo

Image by @mykela14 via Instagram

Do All Studios Do Walk-In Tattoos?

No, not all tattoo studios do walk-in tattoos. In our studio, we let clients come in for walk-in sessions, but this wasn't the case at a few of the shops I've worked at. When you think about it, this isn't hard to understand why. Only doing appointments allows them to properly prepare for clients and do pretty intricate, custom pieces.

At the same time, though, I've worked at a few tattoo studios that allow walk-ins but only on designated days. You'll have to check the shop you're interested in online and find this information out.

How Big of a Tattoo Can You Get As a Walk-In?

Generally speaking, you can get a small to medium-sized piece during a walk in session. The rule at the end of the day is to go for a design that doesn't require your tattoo artist to spend hours drawing and preparing for.

Like I mentioned before, however, you should always speak to your tattoo artist about what you have in mind. Some experienced artists are really fast and can complete a more detailed piece in one session.

How Does A Walk-In Tattoo Session Work?

From the start to the finish, there are a few steps to getting a walk-in tattoo. I've touched on them, along with some important tips that you might like if it's going to be your first tattoo ever.

1. Figure Out What You want

First and foremost, figure out what tattoo you want to get. Like I said, you can't get anything too complicated for a walk-in session, so you're limited to simpler designs. I ran through some really great options that I've personally worked on as walk-in tattoos earlier.

2. Find a Shop/ Get a Walk-In Session

Since not all tattoo shops do walk-in tattoos, you need to do your research and find tattoo shops near you that accept walk-in sessions. This not only will save you time but also can save you a bit of embarrassment. You probably won't like the feeling of being turned away when you find out the tattoo shop that you walked into was appointment only.

If you can't find any information online about whether the shop does walk-ins, my biggest tip would be to call them and ask. I've had a couple of clients call the previous tattoo studio I was at to find out if we did walk-ins because we forgot to say that we did on our site.

3. Prepare for the Session

I normally have clients eat a carb-rich meal hours in advance if they're going to be at my studio for hours. But this probably won't be useful for you, since you will likely be in and out in around 2 hours. However, I'd still advise you to bring in some small, sugary snacks to have. They'll help if you have low pain tolerance and feel lightheaded: they'll keep your blood-sugar level up so you won't faint.

Also, hydrate well. Have at least 8 glasses of water 24 hours before your tattoo. Your body being properly hydrated will let it take in the ink better.

4. Look Through the Flash Books

Once you're at the shop, head to the reception and find an available artist to work with. Tell them about the design you have in mind and see what they say. A big no-no in tattoo culture/ the tattoo world is getting your tattoo artist to totally copy someone else's work- definitely don't do this if you have something saved. Just give him an idea or reference and see if he can come up with a custom piece.

Also, a lot of tattoo artists actually have flash books, which essentially are lists of pre-determined tattoos that you can get. You can always go through the flash books, see if there is anything you like, and ask your tattoo artist if you can get it done. Of course, you probably won't be able to get more intricate pieces, but if there's a design that's more simple, they should be happy to do it.

5. Figure Out the Costs

Tattoos cost money - and a lot of money sometimes. So, definitely speak to your tattoo artist about how much the specific tattoo design will cost you. In our studio, we charge an hourly rate - usually starting at $150. There are some studios that charge per size, though.

Now if you're opting for flash tattoos, then you'll probably have to pay a set amount. The final cost can of course vary depending on how much detail was on it.

Also, another big no-no is trying to negotiate with your tattoo artist and trying to get a better deal. Remember that you don't want to haggle with a talented artist that does quality work.

6. Go Through With the Session

An hour or two before your session, your tattoo artist will likely shave the area that you're going to be tattooed on, clean it with antibacterial soap, and then add a topical numbing gel - I like to use numbing gels on clients since they don't leave as much residue as numbing creams.

Your tattoo artist should now get to work. It probably won't take longer than 2 hours. Once you're all wrapped up, you'll be run through how to take care of your tattoo. It's very important that you listen to your tattoo artist and follow every single thing that you're told to do, like avoiding direct sunlight, and absolutely not letting your tattoo soak: all the money you spend will be in vain as the tattoo ink will look patchy.

I highly suggest that you call the tattoo shop and speak to the tattoo artist if you feel like they weren't clear with the aftercare instructions. It's better to be safe than sorry because if you're really bad at taking care of the tattoo, it won't heal properly and you can actually get really sick.

7. Remember to Tip

Last but not least, tattoo artists provide services so it's only right that you tip them before you leave. Tipping also helps build relationships, which is what you want with experienced artists since they can squeeze you in for an appointment next time even if they're booked.

I know what you might be wondering - how much do I tip? It really depends on where you live. But here in the U.S., I'd say going with 15-20% of how much the tattoo cost is more than enough.

Is It Okay to Walk In For a Tattoo?

it's perfectly fine to walk in for a tattoo. Yes, not all tattoo shops take in walk-in sessions, but there's no harm in accidentally walking into a shop that doesn't do them.

You might feel a bit embarrassed being turned away, but you really don't lose anything, and you're not inconveniencing the shop by asking. If anything, you'll probably be directed to a shop near you that does walk-ins, so you'll be saving yourself some time.

But like I said, what's not good is going to a walk-in session and asking to do something intricate, like a full sleeve, or super detailed tribal tattoos. The available tattoo artist will only be able to do something simple that can be done in 1 session.

Final Thoughts

If you are contemplating getting a walk-in tattoo, you likely will have to get something small. The tattoo artist you're working with probably won't be able to come up with complex designs on short notice. I ran through a couple of different design ideas for you, like tiny hand crosses, names, and even paw prints. Instead of these, you can also ask if there are flash books, and then find something in there that you like.

All in all, I hope you found this ultimate guide useful, and know what tattoo to get, and also more importantly, found my information on what to expect useful!

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