Tattoos are for life, but that doesn’t mean they don’t move with the times. Like music, fashion and the arts, what people want on their skin trends in and out of popularity. From the resurgence of Y2K, to more boldly placed ink and differences in size and shock factor, 2023 appears to blur the lines between nostalgia and the ultra-modern.
Who better to give us the lowdown on these emerging trends than London’s most talented tattoo artists?
Below we’ve caught up with five top artists from the UK capital to get their thoughts.
Whether you take the plunge on these trending styles remains up to you!
Sophie Rose Hunter, The Blue Tattoo
Over the last few years, there’s been a trend of getting tattoos that are very small and barely visible, but I think this is starting to change. People seem to be more interested in getting larger, bolder pieces that really stand out. This means longer sitting times and tattoos that will heal well over time which signifies a real commitment to the tattoo. It’s also more interesting for us as tattoo artists to really engage with our client’s vision and work together to bring it to life!
Angel Ho, Parliament Tattoo
Nostalgia is playing an important role in influencing the tattoo industry at the moment. But, rather than just getting what was popular back in the day, people are combining modern twists with nostalgic tastes. For example, abstract patterns with tribal styling have made a comeback with the Y2K movement. And dainty designs that have been modernized for today’s customers bring back what people were rocking in the 2000s, without the classic boldness.
Alongside Y2K style, anime and animal tattoos are also a trend I don’t see going anywhere. They represent so much in terms of personality. And, given the current economic situation, smaller tattoos and patchwork pieces where the customer doesn’t have to sit for too long are popular because they’re more affordable.
While tattoo trends evolve with every moment, one thing I believe is constant is that a tattoo is an artistic expression of your personality. That will never change.
Laura May, Blank Collective & Femme Fatale Tattoo
The last couple of years in fashion have seen the return of some strong Y2K trends. I’m personally seeing a massive surge in “tramp stamp” requests over the past couple of months. As with any trend, I’m sure people will be seeing to what extremes they can push it, so I’m expecting people to go big, bold, trashy-cute and nostalgic with their lower back tattoos.
I think the key to getting a particular tattoo style/placement that’s “in” is making sure it’s still unique, so book with an artist that will do you a custom you’ll love forever.
There could potentially be some other big trends from that era resurfacing too. I’d like to see the return of tribal style bands around the upper arm, Betty Boop/Tweety Pie motifs and dolphins etc.
I’m super excited to see what ideas get brought my way in 2023!
Tess Pokes, Sacred Gold Tattoo
As a fine line handpoke artist, I’ve found that small and minimal tattoos are growing to be quite popular. Clients are getting these tattoos in more daring and visible placements like the fingers, hands, ears and neck as tattoos are becoming more acceptable in any kind of industry like corporate, nursing, customer service etc.
The most popular designs are the ones that are reminiscent of jewelery and that look delicate and decorative on the body. Fine line ornamental is something that will embellish the skin in a beautiful and subtle way.
Another trend that I’ve noticed coming into 2023 that isn’t necessarily a positive one is perfectionism…which does not exist! Tattoos are a handmade process that heal on skin so it will look organic and natural. Social media has definitely not helped with this. What we see in a picture online with good lighting (and in some cases edited) isn’t necessarily what it will look like in real life, and this is ok! That is the beauty of tattoos. They are living on our bodies which are not “perfect” either.
Emily Malice, Scorpio Mars Tattoo
In 2023, I believe we are going to see even more unhinged ways of tattooing than ever before. TikTok has got people really thinking outside the box with tattoo application. With this in mind, I feel we will be seeing a lot more abstract tattoos and perhaps a whole new level of chaos.
Alongside this, technical advances like Procreate have changed the way tattoo designs/stencils are created. The perfect circle is at the touch of a button. I look forward to seeing if these shortcuts will in turn make pieces that would have been extremely difficult by hand and eye more accessible.
Cover image: Emily Malice