Upside Down Wrist Tattoos...Do or Don't?

Published on May 13, 2014 by Jodie Michalak

Have you noticed the increasing popularity of upside down wrist tattoos?


While some people and artists voice no concern in an upside down wrist tattoo, others are quite vocal.


They want to know why your design isn’t visible to them, and if there’s a valid reason you went against all the rules of tattoo art placement, which should be that the designs are visible to the public.


So what’s a gal or guy to do when his wrist tattoo is taboo? Break the rules if you must.


Here’s why upside down wrist tattoos sometimes make sense. (Sometimes.)


Many people wear wrist tattoos for a point of reference. So if you seek inspiration or words of encouragement, your wrist may be a prominent spot to place a tattoo design to wear a daily affirmation.


Because of this, reading it upside down would be like wearing your watch faced outside. You’ll be turning your head to see the design, like the public would if it’s upside to them.


The question is who is your tattoo for? If you want to see it, read it, and be inspired by it, then it should make sense to you. People may not like this. You should not care.


Now, on the flip side, a tattoo that has a very pleasing or detailed design will often look best facing the viewers. Why? Because if it takes up a large portion of your wrist and it’s not readable from an upside down stance, it can be a large distraction.


People will constantly bend and lurk to see the tattoo, and that’s really just sort of annoying. You may decide an outer facing wrist tattoo looks its best when selecting any common design such as Traditional Old School tattoos.


Last there are those wrist tattoos that can go either way, meaning upside down or right side up, they’ll always look good. 


Examples of these tattoos include snakes, dragons, roses, and Koi fish, especially since the Koi fish is supposed to swim upstream, and a rose will ramble, so that makes sense too. 


When considering an upside down wrist tattoo you venture into controversial waters. It’s important to analyze exactly why you want to see the design, and then of course why you want the public to.


Just  as there are rules to “not touching tattoos” some people wear body art for themselves only, and don’t like or care about the opinion of others.


If you’re still undecided about whether you should wear an upside down wrist tattoo or not, consider a few other styles instead.


Mandalas, geometric tattoos, dotwork, tribal patterns, and intricate henna inspired tattoos are so versatile they can be worn in any direction.


One careful thing to keep in mind is that some significant symbols have opposing meanings when worn facing the wrong direction. Viking rune tattoos are an excellent example of this.


So long as your tattoo can be placed upside down without altering the character’s meaning, you should have some flexibility in which to make a fact based decision.


Your tattoo artist should always be willing to execute a design that follows your wishes, yet makes artistic sense. So go over your concerns openly and trust their feedback, unless it is merely based of mass opinion. If his only response is, “this is how people wear them”, maybe it’s time to remind yourself you are unique. That doesn’t mean you should rebel just because you can, it’s just that sometimes…you should.


Wear your upside down wrist tattoo with pride, especially if it’s too late to change it. Next time you can make even better decisions based on your research.


Images courtesy Melissa Fusco and tehwereferrett



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