6 Tattoo Trends You’re About to See Everywhere

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Let’s talk tattoos. Once a visual rebellion against the American mainstream, tattoos are all over the place these days, with permanent (and occasionally ephemeral) ink adorning bodies and faces alike. From full-color landscapes to high-impact sleeves to tiny, fine-line designs, tattoos are an art form that can evolve as quickly as any beauty trend — but with a touch more to them.

“For me, tattoos are something we do for a higher meaning or higher purpose,” says Swedish tattoo artist Miryam Lumpini, a.k.a. The Witchdoctor. “Tattoos are there to empower us, represent us, and be with us always.”

As with any industry, tattooing is subject to trends, techniques, motifs, palettes, and placements that fall in and out of favor, often aided by social media. “My favorite thing about the industry is that there really are no rules. There are so many subdivisions, and what it means to be a cool kid in the industry is so different everywhere,” says tattoo artist Melody Mitchell.

Though infinitely more personal and permanent than, say, a haircut, collective aesthetics undoubtedly influence body art, and certain designs can surge in popularity. Artists like Lumpini simultaneously acknowledge and buck against this reality, urging those who are considering getting a tattoo to eschew trends in favor of consideration, story, and individual taste. “It’s important that we don’t get tattoos solely because of trends, and that we get something that no matter what, we’re always going to want to carry,” she says.

Lower Back

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Every element of the ‘90s and early ‘00s is back, including the evocative lower back tattoos that defined a generation. “Tramp stamps are definitely back!” says Mitchell. “The ‘90s have taken over everything, and with that, the tramp stamp has already been reemerging with ferocity.” The actual designs are as retro as the placement, with butterflies, flowers, and stylized frames providing a literal artistic revival.

Flash Tats

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If you’re a devotee of an artist’s work but unsure of a design (or if you live for spontaneity) a flash tattoo could be for you. You'll typically find an artist dreaming up a series of small designs that are on offer during a specific period, allowing fans to make an appointment and a point. “I remember when if you did custom work you were like Leonardo de Vinci, but now flash has come back with a vengeance, which I think is really cool,” says Mitchell.

Nail Beds

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Semi-permanent nail art, anyone? Your manicure gets an inked upgrade when nail designs are executed with a tattoo gun. “I’ve seen some tattoo artists tattooing their nail beds, which isn’t permanent, and with all the attention to nails these days, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that gain popularity, especially since it’s only temporary,” says Mitchell. As your nail grows and ink fades, expect your teeny-tiny-inked nail art to last for a couple of months.

Ear Tattoos

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Just because you’ve maxed out your piercing placements doesn’t mean you’re finished with ear embellishments. “Ear tattoos have been a great statement for the minimalist on the edge, and I’ve been seeing them done better and better,” says Mitchell. From delicate fern fronds inked on the inner ear to florals designed to vine around the cartilage, ear tattoos provide a new sort of forever jewelry.

Transmuting Tattoos

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Transmuting tattoos aren’t quite as they first appear. Instead, the art is designed to change form with movement, or when you’re close to a counterpart. “Like your knee might be bent and it looks one way, but when you stand up and your knee is straightened and the back of your knee is open, suddenly there’s something more to it. Or when you bend your arm you see one type of art piece, but when your arm is open it turns into something different,” explains Lumpini.

Connective tattoos — designs split between two body parts or two people that become whole when touched — also factor into this category.

Little Landscapes

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Diminutive and detailed landscapes in full color are inspiring major “Wish you were here!” feels, and they provide an opportunity to carry a beloved location with you always. Once relegated to black designs, grays, and fine lines, artists are bringing tiny natural worlds fully to life through the use of color. “It’s almost like a little miniature postcard,” says Lumpini. Consider this the perfect means of preserving a place that’s close to your heart.

How to Care for Your New Tattoo

Ask your artist about new tattoo aftercare, the better to preserve your specific tattoo. Once it’s time to remove any plastic wrap or protective bandages, rinse your tattoo and allow it to dry completely before applying a layer of moisturizer. Humectants like Aquaphor are always an option, but Mitchell recommends investing in a fresh jar of coconut oil. "Don’t let the tattoo get too dry, but also don’t leave it slathered in oil,” she says. “Just pamper it a little and you should be fine.” Avoid sun exposure and soaking in water for 5-10 days post-session — or perhaps more, depending on the art in question.

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