Now that we are halfway through the year, we can do a half-time report on the tattoo trends that have been popular so far in 2018. The results vary by source, but we have some fairly solid themes. Some of the styles and designs that are popular in 2018 have been trending for a while, whereas others are relatively new. Regardless of the source, one thing we can all agree on is that Ben Affleck’s giant back tattoo isn’t going to make the cut. It may be the most universally disdained tattoo of the year. Sorry, Ben.
Our first trend is minimalist linear tattoos. The popularity of this style seems to be reaching new heights each year. Minimalist linear tattoos are becoming more frequently requested and shared all over social media. By nature, this style is less of a commitment than an elaborate and fully colored image; this is one of the key appeals of this style. As the name suggests, a minimalist tattoo only requires one aesthetically pleasing line, but most people opt for a little more than the bare bones look. Minimalist tattoos are also great because they won't really go out of style. They are timeless, simple, and low commitment. What's not to like?
Another style that is trending more than ever is watercolor tattoos. This type of tattoo achieves its trademark style with very specific shading techniques. When done right, it should have some opacity and legitimately look like a watercolor painting on skin. Watercolor tattoos do not have borders, and tend to be low contrast. One thing to watch out for is that these tattoos may fade more quickly than traditional tattoos. If this is important to you, it will be worthwhile to do some research before getting one. Having said that, the outcome will probably depend on the skill of the artist who inked it. As always, if you want a quality tattoo, hire a quality artist.
This next trend is actually very old, but is becoming mainstream due to some celebrity endorsements and social media. Hand poked tattoos are an ancient practice and have been poplar across a long range of time in vastly different geographic locations. These tattoos didn’t gain worldwide popularity until recently when celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Rihanna hopped on the hand poked tattoo wagon and gave the style some free advertising. As a result, thousands of westerners now have hand poked tattoos. This is more of a tattooing technique than a style, but the technique does lend itself to a specific type of design. They tend to look more tribal and frequently utilize armbands, shapes, and repeating patterns. One thing to know ahead of time is that these tattoos are more painful than those given by a tattoo machine and they tend to swell up. The experience has been described as similar to “having a cat scratch sunburn over and over again.”
Full black and gray tattoos are also popping off. Blackwork tattoos in particular blew up on social media, and now it is a full fledged trend that has continued to grow in 2018. Blackwork can look intimidating, sleek, and elegant all at the same time. This kind of tattoo is typically very high commitment, to provide a contrast with minimalist tattoos. It is becoming more common for people to get large portions of their body entirely covered in black ink. Luckily, blackwork is a style that leaves you with a lot of possibilities. Just as Coco Chanel said, “Every woman should have a little black dress”; maybe it’s also true that every tattoo enthusiast should have a little (or gigantic) black tattoo.
There are plenty more trends of 2018. Honorable mentions include dotwork, 3D realism, and illustrative tattoos. Of course, getting a tattoo isn’t really about following a trend. It is about self-expression and all that jazz. So if you're feeling a like going against the grain, embrace it and be yourself. Just don't pull a Ben Affleck and get a full back tattoo of a phoenix.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of PainfulPleasures.