10 Popular Tattoo Designs

Whether you call it taboo or expression, tattooing is one of the most popular forms of body modification. Getting a tattoo has become just as much a rite of passage as going to prom, or having your first beer. Tattoos have even become a staple of pop culture, with reality shows like Miami Ink, L.A. Ink, and Tattoo Highway garnering huge followings.

If you are searching for tattoo ideas, or if you are interested in learning about hot tattoo trends, check out this list of 10 popular tattoo designs (in no particular order).

1. Crosses: Cross tattoos seem to be a go-to design for a first tattoo, or if one isn’t feeling particularly adventurous. Crosses can have many different variations including popular options like the Celtic cross, iron cross, Catholic cross, tribal cross, and Christian crucifix. If you decide to get inked with this particular trend, please make sure that your design is symmetrical. Popular locations for these tattoos include the back, calf, arm, and upper torso.

2. Portraits: A portrait tattoo is a great way to express your love for a family member, friend, loved one, pet, or even an iconic character or celebrity. Portraits are one of the most popular varieties of memorial tattoos, and are very difficult to produce. The tattoo artist Kat Von D brought portrait tattoos to the mainstream through her TLC shows Miami Ink and L.A. Ink. These tattoos are stunning when completed by someone with skill, so it is important to find a tattoo artist who is experienced in portrait tattoos.

3. Tribal: While you probably have never seen a fraternity dude without one of these tattoos, the origins of tribal tattooing date back thousands of years to indigenous peoples on several continents. Tribal tattoos were used as a means of identification, and a rite of passage into adulthood. Now, Western civilization uses tribal tattooing as a hot trend. Tribal tattoos can be used to accent other tattooed images, or they can appear in the form of arm bands and sleeves. Braver souls wrap tribal designs around their entire bodies. This form of tattooing has become so common that in some circles it is considered passé.

4. Stars: The popularity of star tattoos has exploded with a growing interest in emo, punk, and rock ‘n roll culture. Star tattoos can be found in a variety of forms, including the two-toned nautical star, and star clusters. Stars can be outlined with thick lines, or filled in with a solid color. Some women also get one small star, or a cluster of small stars tattooed on the side of their face near the eye.

5. Memorials: These tattoos are often meant to stand as a testament to someone’s life, or are created to commemorate a special event. Common memorial tattoos include portraits, quotes, dates of birth or death, as well as other images and words that will remind the tattoo owner of their loved one or special event.

6. Zodiac Symbols: Even if you aren’t necessarily into the study of astrology, Zodiac symbol tattoos are a great way to express yourself, and have a nifty tattoo to boot. There are an infinite number of designs available to represent your birth month and corresponding Zodiac symbol. You can make your tattoo original by placing it in a unique spot like on the back of your neck, behind your ear, on your foot, or on your inner forearm or wrist.

7. Lettering: This is a tattoo trend that will never go out of style. It is common to see first or last names, or initials tattooed in Old English lettering. You can also find a vast number of names or letters tattooed using the alphabet of another language. Chinese and/or Japanese characters are very popular, as well as script from Middle Eastern languages.

8. Winged Creatures: If you are interested in a more magical piece of body art, then looked to winged creatures for inspiration. Some of the most widely used tattoo designs include angels, fairies, butterflies and dragonflies. Meanings behind these designs can include protection, change, and personal growth. The majority of these designs are very beautiful and mysterious. However, when it comes to designs like butterflies and fairies in particular, many of them can be unoriginal, and seem uninspired. Search online for unique designs, or commission an artist to do a custom design.

9. Flower Tattoos: This is one tattoo trend with some longevity. Some flowers have special meaning like love and friendship, while others may represent a particular moment or memory from someone’s life. Flowers, like roses, can also be used as a memorial tattoo to honor someone who has passed. One of, if not the most popular flower tattoo is the lotus flower. It can symbolize change, personal growth, and overcoming obstacles in one’s life.

10. Pin-Up Girls: Pin-up girl tattoos are especially popular among men, and even some women. These tattoos – commonly featured on the upper arm, inner forearm, and calf – display images of beautiful women from the 1940’s and 1950’s pin-up heyday. Many these tattoos are of World War II era Vargas Girls, photographed by Alberto Vargas for Esquire magazine. Some also opt to have their wives or girlfriends tattooed on their body in the pin-up style. Pin-up girl tattoos are definitely the hottest among tattoo trends.

If you are in the market for a tattoo design, try any of these popular trends. Research designs online, and talk to your tattoo artist about how you can make your tattoo design your own. Happy tattooing!


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