Dive into the world of self-expression with the biggest tattoo trends 2024. From minimalistic designs to vibrant colors, these trends reflect personal narratives and artistic innovation. Stay tuned for a journey through art that tells unique stories.
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There’s a familiar argument that tattoo skeptics often make: “Will you still want that design on your body when you’re in the old folks’ home?” The answer is a resounding yes. When Gen Z-ers and millennials reach old age, we’ll proudly sport tattoos of tiny tacos, intricately inked rings and bracelets, and lifelike portraits of our beloved furry companions. “People nowadays live in the moment and aren’t as concerned about how something will age,” explains Ian Haight, a talented tattoo artist based in Portland.
As tattoos become more socially accepted, the concerns about where and how to get them are fading away. According to Krizo Valkov, a tattoo artist in the City of Roses, there is no longer a distinction between “good tattoos” and “bad tattoos.” The internet has shattered the traditional gatekeepers and trendsetters of the industry, allowing a diverse array of specialists to showcase their unique styles to niche audiences who appreciate their work.
However, like any other industry, the tattoo industry experiences trend cycles. We’ve had conversations with artists across the country to compile a list of tattoo styles that appear to be gaining popularity in 2024. Continue reading for our predictions, but keep in mind: the ultimate tattoo for you is the one that will still bring you excitement when you look in the mirror years from now.
Introducing the experts:
- Ian Haight is a tattoo artist in Portland.
- Krizo Valkov is a tattoo artist based in Portland.
- Rosa Bluestone Perr is a tattoo artist in Brooklyn.
- Ana Guzman is a tattoo artist at Vestigate Tattoo in New York City.
- Alina Naumenko is a Los Angeles-based tattoo artist at Gallery Mirai, who also tattoos on the road with Running Water.
- Elias Castillo is a tattoo artist at No Good Tattoo in Austin.
In this story:
- Memphis pattern
- Realism & two-dimensional tattoos, combined
- Sticker sleeve
- Lo-fi tattoos
- Permanent jewelry
- Pet portraits
- Childhood, reclaimed
- Fan tattoos
When you think of graphic design motifs from the 1980s, it’s likely that the first image that comes to mind is a Memphis pattern. This distinctive style is defined by vibrant and daring shapes that appear to float in space. “Think Trapper Keeper,” says Haight (or just give the Saved By the Bell opening credits a watch).
“Everyone is welcoming back the nostalgia of late ‘80s and ‘90s design trends,” Haight adds. A Memphis pattern tattoo could include elements like a soft pastel triangle, a vibrant neon green squiggle, and a bold lightning bolt.
According to Haight, colourful and abstract tattoos are gaining popularity. Interestingly, these designs often break the “unspoken rule” that tattoos should be outlined in black. “The thought is that black ink lasts the longest and a tattoo with no outline will be unrecognizable in 20 years,” Haight explains. This might be true, “but the fact of the matter is, people just don’t care as much about that anymore.”
Realism and two-dimensional tattoos, combined
Rules are flying out the window with our next trend. Ana Guzman, a tattoo artist in New York City, has noticed clients requesting a fusion of two styles, most commonly two-dimensional tattoos and realism. While realistic tattoos aim to capture subjects as they appear in real life, two-dimensional art is intentionally designed without depth, resulting in a deliberately unrealistic appearance. This approach transcends genres, creating a playful blend of the authentic and the obviously artificial. Artists like Bad Bunny are amplifying the trend’s visibility with realistic-looking vases and cartoonish two-dimensional flowers adorning their arms.
The sticker sleeve is not so much a distinct tattoo style, but rather a style of tattoo placement. It involves getting multiple small tattoos placed in a seemingly random manner along the arm. “Instead of big pieces that take over a lot of real estate, a collection of small pieces allows room for more and more,” says Rosa Bluestone Perr, a tattoo artist in New York City.The overall vibe is “cute and delicate.” This style is also great for those of us on a budget: instead of saving up for a big piece, you can gradually create a sticker sleeve with individual tiny tattoos.
Across the country in Portland, Haight has also observed the growing popularity of the sticker sleeve. His clients tend to expand their collection by adding to it “small, simplistic tattoos.” According to him, it’s a lo-fi version of tattooing, often consisting of impulsive tattoos with simple designs. He attributes this change to the diminishing stigma surrounding tattoos. “You’re seeing a lot more silly tattoos that are completely meaningless,” says Haight. “I think insisting that every tattoo should have meaning is overrated. It’s your body, do what you want with it.” Moreover, if you ever grow tired of having a small cartoon hamburger or a fiddle-leaf fig tattooed on your body, they are easier to conceal compared to larger tattoos with thick lines and vibrant colors.
Over the past few years, there has been a growing trend in permanent jewelry. Necklaces, anklets, and bracelets are now being welded shut instead of using a clasp. Bluestone Perr is considered a pioneer in the tattoo version of this trend, featuring delicate tatted rings or bracelets. The designs are often shaped to resemble the way a bracelet would naturally fall on the wrist, with individual dots that create the illusion of a chain made of silver or gold. “They are a beautiful adornment to the body,” she says. “I love that they are a piece of jewelry you can’t lose.” She has even brought the trend full circle by introducing a collection of rings and earrings inspired by tattoos.
We identified micro-realism as one of the top tattoo trends of 2023. While this style remains highly popular, there’s been a noticeable rise in a specific subset: clients are increasingly requesting realistic pet portraits. These designs aim to capture the true essence of beloved pets like Fluffy. “Most people are obsessed with their pets, and are willing to get their portraits tattooed so that they’re always able to have their fur baby with them,” she says.
If you haven’t noticed the popularity of Spongebob Squarepants or Tommy Pickles tattoos lately, you’ve been missing out. Just like the current trend of ’80s and ’90s nostalgia in patterned tattoos, Guzman’s clients are seeking recreations of their beloved fictional characters. Her designs often feature Hello Kitty and Disney characters, drawing inspiration from movies, books, or childhood memories that resonate with her clients.
In addition to borrowing from fiction, clients are drawing inspiration from their real-life faves. The rabid nature of pop culture fandom means that clients aren’t shy about immortalizing their beloved on their body. “In 2023 alone, I completed over 600 fan tattoos, predominantly dedicated to artists like Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and Taylor Swift,” says Alina Naumenko, a Los Angeles-based tattoo artist. From portraits to symbolic tributes, “these tattoos held profound significance for our clients, offering a means to immortalize the most incredible experiences of their lives — witnessing their favorite artists,” Naumenko adds.
Neumenko and her collective group of tattoo artists even shadowed Louis Tomlinson on tour, where she often tattooed up to 30 designs per day. Next up, they’ll be following Niall Horan, proving that One Direction fans have grown up but are still just as dedicated to their favorite foursome.