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8 Tattoo Trends


Cybersigilism Hand Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Cybersigilism Hand Tattoo @odetotattoo

Are you thinking about getting inked this year? Whether you already have a few tattoos and want to add to your collection, or you’re looking for a first-time tattoo, the body art trends for this year are sure to inspire you! 

Here are eight tattoo trends to consider for your next ink appointment:

Pet Portrait Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Pet Portrait Tattoo @ethanjohnjones

Mixing Tattoo Styles 

Can’t choose between two different tattoo styles for your design? No problem! This is the year to mix the two. 

For example, you can design part of your tattoo in a hyper-realistic style with many small details, and another part be done in a more simplistic, two-dimensional style. 

This can create an interesting and unique final result. 

Pet portraits done in the micro realism style are increasing in popularity. Tattoos of a beloved dog or cat have long been a meaningful body art choice; it has steadily shifted to tiny, finely detailed tattoos.

To mix styles, you could opt for your furry friend to be designed in hyper-realism, while the frame surrounding them or the flowers around them could be super simplistic. 

Choose a professional tattoo artist and take the time to listen to their opinions. They’ll be able to tell you what’s going to look good and what’s not. This is especially important when you’re taking a chance and mixing tattoo styles.

Blackwork Traditional Full Sleeve Patchwork Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Blackwork Traditional Full Sleeve Patchwork Tattoo @laurenjaynegow

Patchwork Sleeve Tattoos 

“Patchwork sleeves are a style of tattoo that covers a person’s arm. But rather than being a fully themed and interconnected sleeve done by the same artist in one or a few go’s, they are made up of individual tattoos,”

Vivid Ink Tattoos

Instead of a fully connected sleeve tattoo that enjoyed popularity over the years, the needle has moved more towards smaller designs. 

A patchwork sleeve allows a person to explore many different tattoo styles and images instead of needing to stick to one theme. 

The popularity of patchwork sleeve tattoos could also be the result of the rise of small, meaningless tattoos. 

Honey Pot Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Honey Pot Tattoo @local_p0ke

Small, Meaningless Tattoos

Getting inked is not a big deal anymore! Tattoos are no longer taboo, and with this evolution, ink has become less meaningful. While many people still want meaningful tattoos, the popularity of inconsequential designs has risen. 

Tattoo artists have seen an increase in people coming in asking for small designs, like a simple heart, a fruit, or a snowman. 

This tattoo choice is more about fun designs you like, instead of trying to come up with a tattoo that has deep significance to your life. 

Also, tattoos are not seen as permanent as they once were. 

Laser tattoo removal has come a long way! Many people also opt to cover up tattoos with new designs.

Flower Cover Up Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Flower Cover Up Tattoo @geem_tattoo

Cover Up Tattoos 

Cover up tattoos are designed inked over scars or a tattoo you no longer like. 

More and more people are seeing cover up tattoos as an alternative to laser tattoo removal. If you no longer like your ink, you can opt for a slightly bigger, darker design to get tatted over it.

Eyeliner Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Eyeliner Tattoo @courtney_stevens_pmu

Permanent Makeup And Permanent Jewelry

How we adorn ourselves is becoming more and more permanent. 

Permanent makeup has come a long way since the dark thick eyeliner of the 80s and 90s. Now, more subtle approaches are the norm, with microblading eyebrows and lip blushing being regular cosmetic procedures for more and more people.

Plant Bracelet Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Plant Bracelet Tattoo @juliapolczantattoo

Permanent jewelry in the form of delicate wrist and ankle tattoos is also seeing an increase in popularity. 

“The designs are often shaped to mimic the way a bracelet would fall on the wrist, with individual dots that look like a chain of silver or gold,”

Allure

These ornamental tattoos can also be done on the ear, with small dots or stars, for example, mimicking earrings. 

Bubbles Powerpuff Girl Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Bubbles Powerpuff Girl Tattoo @roxyrydertattoo

Nostalgic Tattoos 

With the culture experiencing a throwback to the ’90s and early 2000s culture, the body art world is seeing an increase in nostalgic tattoos. 

This can be seen in the rise of cartoon tattoos of millennials’ childhood, and even lower back tattoos.

Lower Back Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Lower Back Tattoo @ah.vocado

Lower Back Tattoos 

The ‘tramp stamp’ – a Y2K trend – is enjoying a revival.

“They’re everywhere now, but with a fresh take. They’re a small word or phrase, or the design is more simplistic,”

Byrdie

The negative connotation of lower back tattoos has been shaken off, with many women seeing it as a way to express femininity and dismiss misogyny. 

This tattoo placement is also a great choice for someone who wants a tattoo that’s easy to hide, a versatile placement that allows for different types of designs, and a less painful tattoo experience.

Cybersigilism Elbow Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Cybersigilism Elbow Tattoo @4dan_blk

Cybersigilism Tattoos 

This is a tattoo style that mixes technology and AI aesthetics with tribal designs.

“Cybersigilism is a tattoo style characterized by its use of thin lines, sharp angles, and usually black ink, to create intricate patterns that resemble a mix of circuitry and organic forms,”

Mr. Inkwells

The symbolism behind this new tattoo trend is centered on humanity’s connection to the digital world. 

There is a lot to be inspired by from the tattoo trends of the year! From going back in your childhood to your favorite cartoon characters, to those silly little tattoos you love the look of, go through the above trends for your next tattoo idea!

Vintage Tattoos: Inkings That Stand The Test Of Time


Rose Hand Tattoos | selftattoo.com
Rose Hand Tattoos @oldschooltattz

There are many new tattoo movements that are popular among body art enthusiasts right now. From tiny minimal designs that leave just a whisper of ink, to hyperrealistic designs that make you do a double take, tattoo trends of today are certainly something to behold. 

However, vintage tattoos still appeal to many, and they remain a popular request at tattoo studios around the globe. These old school tattoos have stood the test of time and remain sought after among the newer styles of today’s world.

But why? What makes this style of tattooing still so relevant? 

Let’s explore vintage tattoo designs that should still be considered when getting inked in the 21st century. 

Traditional American Ship Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Traditional American Ship Tattoo @gaia_zeta

What Is The Old Style Tattoo Called?

Vintage tattoos go by a few names, including old school tattoos, traditional American style, and American classic. Many of these designs cross over into the sailor tattoo category. 

Tattoodo explains that this genre of body art,

“…is known for its bold lines, bright colors, and iconic designs like roses, anchors, and gorgeous lady heads…this style of tattooing is one of the most well-known and beloved aesthetics within the tattoo community.”

Lady Head Old School Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Lady Head Old School Tattoo @gianlucaartico

What Is A Timeless Tattoo?

Classic American tattoos are often seen as timeless tattoos, even though the designs were created so long ago. 

Flash tattoo files are filled with old school designs. 

However, they’re not just considered timeless because of the bold designs and popularity – old school tattoos tend to age really well.

'Trust No One' Thigh Tattoo | selftattoo.com
‘Trust No One’ Thigh Tattoo @alxbngala

What Makes A Tattoo Age?

One of the biggest causes of tattoo fading is UVA and UVB rays. These damaging rays of the sun break down tattoo ink, making a tattoo lose its vibrancy and fade. 

The style of tattoo you choose also has an impact on how ink will age. Bolder lines and darker inks tend to fade a lot slower than more minimalistic designs.  

“Bold, black text and traditional American tattoos still look badass when they fade. It’s kind of like how distressed jeans look cool […] This may seem excessive for most people, but planning how a tattoo will look as it ages will be a fist bump to yourself in the future,”

Bustle

Another consideration if you want to keep your tattoo looking as fresh as possible for as long as possible is to choose a placement that isn’t in a high friction area.

Consistent rubbing can displace ink, creating a more faded look. Areas that take a lot of friction include the hands, feet, inner thighs, and hips.

Anchor and Flower Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Anchor and Flower Tattoo @leonwalkertattoo

For A Timeless Tattoo That Resists Fading, You Should:

  • Keep your ink out of the sun or wear SPF
  • Stay hydrated and keep your skin moisturized
  • Choose a tattoo design with bold lines 
  • Opt for a tattoo placement that’s flat and isn’t prone to friction, such as the bicep, forearm, shoulder, or back
Old School Pin Up Girl Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Old School Pin Up Girl Tattoo @alxbngala

What Are Sailor Jerry Tattoos?

The pioneer of traditional American tattoo design was a man named Sailor Jerry. He was an American who traveled around the country developing his tattoo style.

He went on to the navy, and, after World War Two, opened his own tattoo shop in Hawaii where he focused on sailor tattoos.

How Do You Come Up With Traditional Tattoo Designs?

There are many options when it comes to traditional tattoo designs, including:

Swallow and Anchor Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Swallow and Anchor Tattoo @jonnyshand

Anchor Tattoos

Anchors represent stability and being able to stay on the path even when the elements are against you. 

Swallow Tattoos

Sailors used to get a swallow tattooed to represent that they’ve travelled 5,000 nautical miles. Swallows are also associated with returning home after a voyage. 

Skull Tattoos

A popular tattoo theme especially among people with dangerous jobs, a skull can represent one’s acceptance of death. 

Rose Tattoos

The rose is one of the most tattooed flowers in the world. When done in the traditional American style, the rose buds feature bold black lines and petals saturated in red, with little shading and a small amount of details. 

Pin Up Girl Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Pin Up Girl Tattoo @alin_tattooer

Pin Up Girl Tattoos

Pin up girl tattoos represent an exaggerated form of femininity.

“The name ‘pin up’ came from the idea that men would pin photos or posters of these seductive women on their walls to gaze upon, in months spent apart from real life women,”

Custom Tattoo Design

Nautical Star Tattoos 

Navigation was a huge part of life at sea, so it stands to reason that a nautical star (representing the north star) became a popular tattoo choice among sailors. 

Heart Tattoos

Many sailors in the early 20th century got hearts tattooed on them to pay tribute to and remember their loved ones while they were away at war.

“A sailor staring down a long stint at sea – including the possibility of not returning home – often wanted a heart tattoo to keep his loved ones close,”

Sailor Jerry

You’ll find most if not all of these designs in flash portfolios of tattoo artists who specialize in old school ink. But you can change up some elements to make it more your own while keeping the traditional bold aesthetic. 

Face and Dagger Old School Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Face and Dagger Old School Tattoo @andrewbtattooer

For example, you can add a banner to a heart, rose, or swallow tattoo with a date or name tattooed on it. Or, you could combine a pin up girl face with another tattoo, such as a dagger as we see in the above design. 

Make an appointment with your chosen tattoo artist and discuss options with them. Experienced tattooists will be able to give you different ideas and let you know what would look great and not so good. 

Swallow Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Swallow Tattoo @skinart_traditional

There are many reasons why traditional American tattoos have stood the test of time. The meaning behind these tattoo designs still resonates with many people today, and the bold lines remain eye-catching.

This, combined with the fact that these inkings tend to stay vibrant for longer, and you have a style that will continue to be a popular choice for decades to come!

Tattoos For People With Anxiety


Heart Over Brain Anxiety Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Heart Over Brain Anxiety Tattoo @tattooassist

Sometimes a tattoo is just a beautiful piece of art; other times body art is deeply personal and related to mental health struggles.

According to Forbes, anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions in the world, with around 301 million people dealing with it.

In order to pay tribute to their mental health journeys and remind themselves of their inner strength, many people look to body art and anxiety tattoo designs. 

Getting a tattoo can be a therapeutic experience for a lot of people. Psychology Today points out that getting tattooed can be a powerful way to address trauma.

“A central experience of trauma is feeling the loss of control. Thus, the decision to get a tattoo can itself be a reclamation, in which the survivor takes back control over physical or emotional injury.”

What Tattoo Is Good For Overcoming Struggle?

When it comes to tattoos that represent overcoming struggle and difficult times, transformation tattoos come out on top. 

Mini Butterfly Shoulder Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Mini Butterfly Shoulder Tattoo @mobitattoo

Anxiety Butterfly Tattoo

The butterfly goes through a metamorphosis to become the beautiful winged insects we love. They have to go from caterpillar to chrysalis before eventually emerging.

So, a butterfly tattoo can be a powerful reminder that going through challenging times can help us transform and come out better than before. 

Moth Knee Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Moth Knee Tattoo @daniturkeysammie

Moth Tattoo 

Similar to the butterfly, moths go through a four-stage process from being in an egg to hatching into larvae before spinning a cocoon and then finally emerging as an adult.

Because of this metamorphosis, a moth tattoo can symbolize the transformation in a person’s life and commemorate getting through difficult times in ink.

Lotus Spine Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Lotus Spine Tattoo @tattooist_gaon

Lotus Tattoo

“In general, the flower is believed to represent rising above temptation and becoming a better person. In Hindu belief, lotus flowers are referred to as Padma and symbolize beauty, purity, and spiritual awakening,”

Byrdie

This flower has to rise through the mud to eventually blossom in the light, making it a powerful symbol of overcoming struggle and rising above challenges. 

Here are more anxiety mental health tattoo ideas to consider for a meaningful tattoo design: 

Is There An Anxiety Awareness Symbol?

No, while there are no specific symbols for anxiety, the green ribbon does represent mental health awareness. However, there are a variety of ways to go about anxiety tattoo designs for females and for guys. 

What Tattoos Represent Anxiety?

Serotonin Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Serotonin Tattoo @brittany_tattoos

Anxiety Molecule Tattoo

Serotonin is a chemical in our bodies that regulates our moods. A lack of this chemical is viewed as a contributing factor to anxiety and depression. 

“​​The serotonin molecule tattoo is a way to promote healing and to show that even if you have struggled with mental health issues, there is hope for healing,”

Certified Tattoo

This is usually a fine-line tattoo design featuring hexagons to make up the molecule. However, you can make it more detailed with added elements such as flowers or scenes in the hexagons.

Circular 'Breathe' Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Circular ‘Breathe’ Tattoo @the_devlintattoos

Anxiety Breathe Tattoo

The simplest thing we can do when anxiety starts taking over and our minds are racing is to breathe. This may seem silly – of course you need to breathe – but when you experience anxiety your breathing often becomes more rapid and your heart rate increases.

Doing a breathing exercise or simply taking slow, deep breaths can calm the nervous system. 

The word ‘Breathe’ is a popular tattoo choice among people who struggle with anxiety, as it serves as a simple reminder to come back to the breath and to relax. 

Anxiety Brain Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Anxiety Brain Tattoo @riccardo_tsb

Anxiety Brain Tattoo 

What sometimes triggers anxiety is overthinking. Thoughts going a million miles a second and thinking about the worst possible outcome to a situation can make you extremely anxious. 

An anxiety brain tattoo can symbolize this overthinking. This can be depicted as a bunch of squiggly lines representing the chaos of thoughts, or a pull between the heart and the mind as a reminder to sometimes switch off your brain.

Worry Doll Wrist Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Worry Doll Wrist Tattoo @turkutattooparlour

Worry Doll Tattoo

Worry dolls are small dolls from Guatemala that are handmade as a remedy for worrying.

If something is keeping you up at night, you’re meant to tell your worries to the doll and then place it underneath your pillow. During the night, the doll is meant to absorb these worries helping you to sleep more peacefully.

Butterfly Semicolon Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Butterfly Semicolon Tattoo @deboratatuadora

Semicolon Tattoo

The semicolon tattoo is one of the most popular mental health tattoos.

According to the mental health organization, Project Semicolon, a semicolon can be symbolic of mental health struggles because instead of ending a sentence, you use a semicolon and choose to carry on. 

A semicolon tattoo can be a powerful inked reminder to not allow anxiety to win – that you can get through it. 

This can be the perfect tattoo choice for those who are looking for a minimalist tattoo. If you want more details or to make the semicolon more personalized, there are many ways to go about this.

For example, you could create a semicolon butterfly tattoo with the body of the butterfly as the semicolon, or choose a different image for the upper dot like a heart or a cat’s face. 

Saturn Semicolon Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Saturn Semicolon Tattoo @wittybutton_tattoo

Anxiety can be debilitating. If you’re struggling with your mental health and anxiety is impacting your quality of life, it’s important to see a therapist or mental health professional.

Once you’ve done this and have the positive coping mechanisms you need to overcome anxiety, a tattoo can be a powerful way to pay tribute to your strength and your journey towards better mental health. 

How Long Should You Wait In Between Tattoos?


Fairy Shoulder Tattoos | selftattoo.com
Fairy Shoulder Tattoos @nhi.ink

Anyone with body art knows the addictive feeling of getting a tattoo. According to History of Tattoos, out of people who are inked, 70% have more than one tattoo.

If you find yourself daydreaming of your next inked artwork as soon as you leave the tattoo studio, you may be wondering when you can make your next appointment.

Do you need to wait a certain amount of time? And what about if you’re not happy with your tattoo? Do you have to wait to get it touched up? 

Snake Hand Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Snake Hand Tattoo @yujin_tattoo

Can I Get A Tattoo Fixed The Next Day? 

It’s a good idea to leave some space in between tattoo sessions for a variety of reasons, including your health, money, and your chosen tattoo artist’s availability. 

But, does this include fixing a fresh tattoo? 

When it comes to finishing a large tattoo design or fixing mistakes, it’s still important to wait, as Ink Art By Kate explains,

“Hypothetically, you can finish a tattoo the next day, but if your body undergoes an immense amount of trauma for two days in a row, your immune system will get compromised. Your immune system has to heal a big part of your body, and your skin may get infected.”

When it comes to large tattoo designs, your artist will likely break up the design into multiple sessions. The length of time in between sessions will be around two to three weeks, to allow your immune system to recover and your skin to heal. 

To work on the same area, whether it be to add details or fix a section, tattoo artists will advise you to wait until your skin is completely healed before going under the needle again.

Script And Flower Tattoos | selftattoo.com
Script And Flower Tattoos @mrs.tattoo_

Can You Get Another Tattoo While One Is Healing? 

No, even if you want a separate tattoo in another placement, it’s still important to wait as the risk of infection is still high. Other reasons to wait include:

Lessens The Chance Of Making A Bad Decision 

You may think that your idea for your next tattoo is a great one, but are you sure?

Due to the rush of endorphins from your first tattoo, you may still be riding that high and just wanting to get tatted again instead of thinking about what design you really want. 

Keep in mind that a tattoo is a permanent choice, and the only way to remove it is through intensive (and costly!) laser treatments.

This underscores the importance of allowing your body time to recover and giving your mind the opportunity to carefully consider your next desired piece of body art.

Wheat Stalk Spine Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Wheat Stalk Spine Tattoo @zeetattooo

Allows Your Immune System To Recover 

Getting a tattoo is basically getting injured – your design may look incredible, but it is an open wound. 

So, your body works hard to heal and close up this wound. 

If you go back to your tattoo studio to get another tattoo while your initial one is still in the healing process, you’re putting your body and immune system under unnecessary stress.

This can make you more susceptible to illness and infection, and prolong the healing process.

Patchwork Arm Tattoos | selftattoo.com
Patchwork Arm Tattoos @inkster

It’s important to only get a tattoo while you’re in good physical condition – your body needs to be healthy in order to handle the trauma. This is why a tattoo artist won’t tattoo you if you’re ill.

“…you feel uncomfortable during the tattooing process. Plus, your immune system will be weaker while you’re sick, which can make it harder for your body to heal the tattoo properly… If your body is already compromised when you get your tattoo, it’s going to take several times longer to heal from both things. You will be trying to heal from your sickness, and now you need to heal an open wound,”

Tattoo Adore
Cat With Flowers Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Cat With Flowers Tattoo @paw.tattoo

Gives You A Chance To Save Money

A tattoo is not the time to skimp. To ensure you end up with a tattoo you love, take time to save money so that you can get the design you really want by the artist whose work you truly love.

Getting multiple tattoos close together can put a serious strain on your bank balance and put you under unnecessary stress.

Giving yourself this break can also ensure that you can get an appointment with your first choice of tattoo artist.

Realistic Lily Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Realistic Lily Tattoo @mo.no.tattoo

What About Tattoo Blowout? 

Tattoo blowout is when an artist doesn’t place the ink in the correct skin layer during the tattoo process.

“Below the skin’s surface, the ink spreads out in a layer of fat. This creates the blurring associated with a tattoo blowout,”

Healthline

To correct tattoo blowout, you’ve got to get inked over the initial design to cover up the mistakes. So, you’ve got to wait at least two months for the skin to be completely healed. 

Butterfly And Snake Tattoos | selftattoo.com
Butterfly And Snake Tattoos @roni_burnovski

How Do You Know When Your Tattoo Is Healed?

For two weeks after getting inked, you’ll see your tattoo peeling and scabbing. This is an incredibly itchy period – don’t give in and scratch! Picking at your tattoo can distort it and prolong the healing process. 

After three weeks to a month, your tattoo may look as if it’s completely healed, but it’s not.

“Remodeling of the skin underneath the tattoo will continue for three to six months when the tattoo is fully healed.”

Byrdie
Sternum Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Sternum Tattoo @fanny.loart.tattoo

While most tattoos are considered fully healed after three months, this greatly depends on the tattoo design. Minimal tiny tattoos may heal sooner, while colorful tattoos can take longer to heal. 

If you gently move your fingers across your tattoo and its texture is the same as the surrounding untattooed skin, then you know your tattoo has fully healed.

To speed up the healing process, you must:

1. Follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare instructions and keep your tattoo clean and moisturized.

2. Eat a healthy diet full of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, foods high in vitamin C to boost the immune system, and drink lots of water to stay hydrated. 

3. Stay out of the sun as it’s damaging to your fresh ink. 

4. Stay out of bodies of water to avoid infections. 

Realistic Goldfish Collarbone Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Realistic Goldfish Collarbone Tattoo @eunyutattoo

We know, getting a tattoo is an amazing experience! That’s why so many people keep going back for more.

But, there is no need to rush. In fact, it’s better for your health to give yourself space to heal and consider your next inking carefully.

What Impacts A Tattoo’s Longevity And How To Help Your Ink Age Gracefully


Mini Watercolor Butterfly Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Mini Watercolor Butterfly Tattoo @plastic_tattoo

Whether you are already inked or are thinking about getting a tattoo, tattoo longevity is definitely something you need to consider. While tattoos are permanent, their vibrancy and clarity are not.

There are many factors that impact how a tattoo will age and fade. Considerations such as placement, tattoo style, and how you look after your ink all play a role in what it will look like in five to 10 years. 

Here is what you have got to know about tattoo longevity and what causes a tattoo to fade so that you can help your ink stay crystal clear for as long as possible: 

Matching Flower Stamp Wrist Tattoos | selftattoo.com
Matching Flower Stamp Wrist Tattoos @ghislain______

What Is The Lifespan Of A Permanent Tattoo?

Permanent tattoos last forever! This is because, during the tattoo process, the ink is placed on the dermis layer of the skin where cells called macrophages are. These cells hold onto your tattoo ink and pass it on to future generations of cells, keeping the ink in place.

So, why do tattoos fade? 

Mandala Ankle Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Mandala Ankle Tattoo @norinatattoo

Rejection From The Body

Ink is still a foreign system, so your body works hard to break the ink down. Plus, your skin regenerates. As new skin cells replace old cells, some of the tattoo ink will get flushed out, too.

Aging Skin

As we age, our skin also changes as elasticity and collagen decrease. This can impact how tattoos look and contribute to fading ink.

The Sun

The sun also plays a huge role in the lifespan of a permanent tattoo. According to dermatologist, Dr Nicolas Kluger,

“Excessive sun exposure, either just after tattooing or chronic, repetitive and unprotected sun exposure of the tattoo during the life of the bearer,”

This is one of the main factors that can accelerate the aging process of a tattoo.

Realistic Pet Portrait Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Realistic Pet Portrait Tattoo @migamtt

Tip: The world of temporary tattoos has grown so much over the decades. If you are unsure about the tattoo you want to get, take it for a test drive! Get a temporary tattoo so you can get a better understanding of how it looks and works in your desired placement. 

Luckily, there are steps you can take to mitigate tattoo fading and hold off the effects of aging. 

Traditional American Swallow Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Traditional American Swallow Tattoo @tamartielemantattoo

What Is The Best Tattoo Style For Longevity?

If you are still deciding what tattoo you want and longevity plays a factor in your decision, do not go too small and or highly detailed.

“Avoid small/micro tattoos and excessive small details, as they will anyway fade away and/or become blurry within years,”

Stories and Ink

This is because less ink is used in this style of tattooing, which results in a short fading process. Also, when you do not leave space in between details, over time the elements can merge, creating a faded blob. 

Delicate Hand And Finger Tattoos | selftattoo.com
Delicate Hand And Finger Tattoos @orma_tattoo

Due to their strong dark lines and minimal fine details, traditional American tattoos tend to age well. 

Watercolor tattoos may look beautiful when you walk out of the tattoo studio, but this style is prone to fading.

“Because they don’t have as much ink in them as traditional tattoos, watercolor tattoos are not as durable and tend to fade over time,”

Certified Tattoo Studios
Watercolor Flower Garden Forearm Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Watercolor Flower Garden Forearm Tattoo @tattooist__cheeu

How Do I Keep My Tattoo Looking New?

There are a few things you can do before and after you get inked to help prolong the life of your tattoo:

Choose A Professional Tattoo Artist 

Getting tatted by an experienced artist can go a long way to helping your tattoo age well. If tattoo ink is not placed in the correct skin layer, your body can break down the particles quicker.

“…poor tattoo artists can insert ink too shallow into the skin, or not pack as much ink into the area as needed in order to maintain a solid color base,”

Authority Tattoo

Also, choose a tattoo artist who specializes in the style of tattoo you want. They will be able to advise you on what design elements will work and what won’t, what would cause your tattoo to fade faster, and the best placement for your tat.

You are way more likely to walk out of the tattoo studio with a design you truly love.

Tattoo blowout (when ink spreads out from the initial point of placement) is also more likely to occur when getting tattooed by someone inexperienced. 

Mini Wing Ankle Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Mini Wing Ankle Tattoo @mrs.tattoo_

Protect Your Ink From The Sun 

The UVA and UVB rays of the sun are extremely damaging to tattoos as they speed up the ink breakdown process. To reduce the fading powers of the sun, cover up your ink when you go out and if your tattoo is exposed, always lather on the sunscreen. 

However, only put on sunscreen after your tattoo has healed completely.

“The only products that should touch your tattoo [while it is healing] will be on the list of aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist — and are unlikely to include a sunscreen,”

Refinery 29
Colorful American Traditional Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Colorful American Traditional Tattoo @andrewbtattooer

Take The Right Aftercare Steps 

Infections can seriously damage the look of your tattoo as it prolongs the healing process and can displace the ink. Lessen the chance of a new tattoo infection by looking after your fresh ink.

Your tattoo artist will leave you with a list of aftercare instructions to follow which will include washing and moisturizing your tattoo regularly.

'Resilient' Arm Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Resilient’ Arm Tattoo @gracedoestattoos

You are also going to want to stay away from the gym and out of bodies of water during the healing process. Exercise equipment as well as lakes, the sea, pools, and hot tubs are full of bacteria that can wreak havoc on your open skin.

If you do suspect that you have a tattoo infection, go to a doctor immediately so that you can get antibiotics. The sooner you get treated, the less damage your tattoo will have to endure. However, you may need to get a touch up down the road.

Cherryblossom Neck Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Cherryblossom Neck Tattoo @seoya_oriental

Moisturize 

Skin health is one of the keys to tattoo longevity. So, keep moisturizing even after your tattoo has healed! The more you look after your skin, the better your tattoo will look and age. Moisturizing helps your skin maintain its elasticity which mitigates the effects of aging. 

“If your tattoo is looking dull or dry, it could benefit from moisturizing…if your art is on a different part of your body that you don’t regularly moisturize, it’s worth looking closely to see if it’s suffering. Incorporating that step into your skincare routine will help keep your ink vibrant and bright,”

Byrdie
Matching Snake Moon And Sun Tattoos | selftattoo.com
Matching Snake Moon And Sun Tattoos @caseymarietattoo

You may also want to use some anti aging skin care products on your tattoo, as dermatologist Edgar Fincher, told Allure that retinol can be an effective weapon against tattoo fading.

“These products help remove damaged portions of the skin, can build new collagen, and also remove unwanted pigmentation from the skin. Daily use of these products can keep the skin looking bright, sharp, and reflective — including the tattoo underneath.” 

Delicate Spine Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Delicate Spine Tattoo @monochrom.ink

Where Do Tattoos Fade The Most?

Placement does play a huge role in how your tattoo will age. Here are a few areas of the body to avoid if tattoo longevity is important to you:

Hand Rose Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Hand Rose Tattoo @maxwelllacroix

High Movement Areas

This includes the hands, fingers, elbows, and knees. These areas move a lot, and so can stretch the skin and tattoo ink, speeding up the fading process.  

Ornamental Ginkgo Cuff Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Ornamental Ginkgo Cuff Tattoo @noelle_adrienne

Exposed Areas

Areas of the body that are exposed to the sun often will fade faster as they are almost constantly getting bombarded by those damaging UVA and UVB rays.

Flower Thigh Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Flower Thigh Tattoo @omarfeliciiano

High Friction Areas

Think about the places of the body that rub against each other or your clothes. The hip and stomach area rubbing against the waistband of your pants, the inner thighs, and the feet are all examples of high friction placements. 

Dragonfly Stomach Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Dragonfly Stomach Tattoo @thesingingfinch

Areas Prone To Weight Gain

The stomach may not be the ideal placement choice for a tattoo if you plan on getting pregnant,

“Even with constant moisturizing during this time, you can still face a warped or blown out tattoo as a result of the skin stretching,”

Bustle
Mini Realistic Blueberries Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Mini Realistic Blueberries Tattoo @tattooist_solar

What Tattoo Colors Fade The Most?

Black and dark colors tend to stand the test of time, whereas lighter colors can fade at a quicker rate.

“All of the lighter and brighter colors such as pink, yellow, light green/blue etc will always fade faster than the darker colors…The darker and more bold the tattoo ink, typically means they will last longer. Lighter and brighter colors will usually require touching up over time to maintain that color the user is after,”

Ink Nurse

This should not stop you from getting the colorful tattoo of your dreams! There are ways to prolong the vibrancy of your color tattoo.

Nature Watercolor Shoulder Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Nature Watercolor Shoulder Tattoo @julesboho.tattoo

How Do I Keep My Tattoo Bright?

If you are opting for a colorful tattoo, like a watercolor design, chances are you are going to want to keep those colors popping for as long as possible. 

To reduce fading and keep your colorful tattoo as vibrant as possible for as long as possible, you can:

  • Choose a placement that you can cover easily to protect it from the sun and in a non-friction zone. Some optimal placements include the forearm, bicep or upper arm, calf, or shoulder. 
  • Keep your tattoo out of the sun.
  • Look after your tattoo while it heals to avoid infections. 
  • Exfoliate your tattoo to remove dead skin cells. Only exfoliate after your tattoo is completely healed and don’t overdo it! Twice a week is fine. 

“You can use a physical exfoliant which includes scrubs, terry cloths, brushes, mitts, loofahs, and other sponges. There are also chemical exfoliants that dissolve the dead skin cells rather than rubbing them away.”

Mad Rabbit Tattoo
  • Pay attention to your diet.

“Consuming antioxidants found in dark berries (blueberries, acai berries, goji berries, etc.) along with carotenoid-rich foods and betacarotene supplements can promote melanin production and help keep your tattoo looking dark/colorful (as applicable) and healthy for years.”

Adrenaline Studios
Fine Line Cat Semi Colon Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Fine Line Cat Semi Colon Tattoo @irotattooteam

All tattoos fade over time. While longevity is definitely a factor to pay attention to when deciding on a tattoo design and placement, it should not stop you from choosing body art you truly love. 

Yes, placement and design do play a part in how your tattoo will fade, but there are other steps that are in your control, too.

Choosing a reputable tattoo artist who is well versed in your desired tattoo style, taking the right steps when it comes to the healing process, keeping your ink out of the sun, and looking after your skin and your health can go a long way in moving back the date of your tattoo touch up.

What You Should Know About Patchwork Sleeve Tattoos


Blackwork Traditional Full Sleeve Patchwork Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Blackwork Traditional Full Sleeve Patchwork Tattoo @laurenjaynegow

As tattoos have become more and more mainstream over the years, many people have felt increasingly comfortable with getting large tattoo designs that express their personalities.

One of the tattoo options that have been in the spotlight is sleeve tattoos, both half sleeve and full sleeve designs. While you can just get one large tattoo to cover up the arm, there is another tattoo trend to consider: Patchwork sleeve tattoos.

This tattoo style can be the perfect option for people who love a puzzle tattoo aesthetic and enjoy many different tattoo elements.

Ocean Themed Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Ocean Themed Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo @jaz_adele_ink

What Is A Patchwork Tattoo Sleeve?

Think of a patchwork sleeve tattoo almost like a patchwork quilt – many different elements stitched together to create a design. Various symbols, images, designs, and colors can be used in different small tattoos to create the sleeve. 

“Patchwork tattoos are small to medium sized tattoos (sometimes large) arranged and fitted, close to each other, but not touching, to create a type of ‘tattoo sleeve’. Traditionally a tattoo sleeve has no open space and is more likely to have a cohesive theme. In contrast patchwork tattoos can have a theme or be completely random,”

Mr Inkwells
Blackwork Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Blackwork Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo @herzdame

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to patchwork sleeve tattoos. You can have a lot of blank space between tattoos or the designs can be close together. Whether you opt for a densely packed tattoo sleeve or light patchwork tattoos, should you choose a specific theme?

Mixed Element Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Mixed Element Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo @unordinary_inked

Do Patchwork Tattoos Need A Theme?

This decision will be based on your own personality. You can have some uniformity between your tattoos with a theme like nature or floral. Another way to create uniformity between your designs is to stick to a certain style of tattooing, like traditional American or minimalistic.

Alternatively, if you like the chaos of multiple styles and designs next to each other, you don’t need a theme. You can just start your patchwork sleeve with a tattoo you like and just keep adding on as time goes by.

Mixed Element Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Mixed Element Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo @taurusmoontattoo

What Are The Rules For Patchwork Tattoos?

While there are no rules for patchwork tattoos, there are a few best practices to take heed of:

  • Keep your arm tattoos on the small to medium size. If you go too big then your sleeve will lose the overall appearance of the patchwork style. 
  • Have fun! You don’t need to take a patchwork sleeve tattoo overly seriously if you don’t want to. 
  • Think about the end result. While you don’t need to have a full-on plan for your patchwork sleeve, it’s good to think about whether you want some uniformity when it comes to style and color. This also includes how big you want the end result to be (half sleeve or full sleeve).
Floral Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Floral Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo @tattoo.mariah

Are Patchwork Tattoos Cheaper?

A single small tattoo on your arm is going to be way cheaper than getting a full sleeve tattoo. However, when you take into account the amount of tattoos that make up a patchwork tattoo, the price does drastically increase. 

“Because a patchwork sleeve is made up of dozens or hundreds of smaller pieces, they tend to be more time-consuming and expensive than a larger sleeve design with a singular focus. Also, you have to carefully plan and place every single tattoo to ensure that the patchwork, well, works,”

Oracle Tattoo Gallery
Dark Flash Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Dark Flash Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo @hellbaby_ink

If you choose to get your patchwork sleeve over a stretch of time, the price may be staggered which can help your budget as you have time to save money in between tattoos. 

A big factor that impacts the price of your tattoo is the detail that goes into the design. So, a minimalist patchwork sleeve tattoo will be cheaper than a patchwork sleeve made up of highly detailed tattoos.

And, of course, the more tattoos in your patchwork sleeve, the more expensive it will end up being. 

Simple Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Simple Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo @lucafreudenberg_tattoo

How Long Should You Wait In Between Tattoos?

If you know what you want your patchwork sleeve to look like, then you may be tempted to get all the elements tattooed at once to get it out of the way. 

However, this is not advisable and the majority of tattoo artists won’t do it. Sleeve tattoos need to be done in separate sessions, with each session lasting a few hours (depending on tattoo intricacy). 

Dragon Patchwork Design Element | selftattoo.com
Dragon Patchwork Design Element @natalieallentattoo

“While sometimes it makes sense to get a couple of tattoos at once, typically, we recommend you wait at least two weeks between getting tattoos. Let your first tattoo heal until it’s a closed wound,”

Hush Aesthetic

Remember, getting a tattoo is basically getting wounded – your body goes through an intense trauma. Your body is working hard to heal and fight off infections, so getting too many tattoos at once can put unnecessary strain on yourself physically.

“…the more tattoos the body has to heal, the longer it’ll take to heal each individually.” 

Byrdie
Blackwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Blackwork Sleeve Tattoo @justinthebastard

You’ll definitely want to tackle more painful areas separately. Your elbow, for example, will likely be a lot more challenging to tattoo compared to the forearm. This is because there are more nerves and thinner skin in the elbow area. Give yourself space to recover after particularly painful areas. 

Rose Patchwork Sleeve Element | selftattoo.com
Rose Patchwork Sleeve Element @rottenhannah

How To Plan Patchwork Tattoo Sleeve

To end up with a cohesive patchwork sleeve tattoo, it’s a good idea to think ahead and do some planning. 

Define Your Style

If you want some conformity in your patchwork sleeve, you’ve got to define the overall style of the sleeve. From traditional, realistic, and geometric to abstract or a combination of different styles, there’s a lot to consider. Go through Pinterest and Instagram to research your options.

Sacred Heart Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Sacred Heart Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo @laurenjaynegow

Choose A Theme

As discussed above, you don’t really need a theme for a patchwork sleeve if you don’t want one. However, a themed patchwork sleeve can look beautiful, so think about it! Some possible themes include your favorite book or movie, nature, and mythology.

Break Down Your Sleeve Into Elements 

Define the individual elements of your patchwork sleeve and where each tattoo will fit onto your arm. You’ve got to consider the flow of the tattoo and how each element will fit in with each other. Some tattoos will look better together than others. 

Cute Simple Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Cute Simple Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo @mclametattoos

Decide On Color

Consider whether you want to include color into your patchwork sleeve or want to stick with black ink. 

Half Sleeve Vs Full Sleeve Tattoo

When it comes to the full size of your patchwork tattoo, you could choose a full sleeve or a half sleeve. A half sleeve will only be tatted on either the upper arm or the forearm. 

Fig And Flower Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Fig And Flower Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo @moducommun

Choose A Tattoo Artist

Do your research, look through portfolios, and choose an artist who is experienced in the style of tattoo that you want. For example, if you want an old school patchwork tattoo sleeve that takes inspiration from sailor tattoos, find an artist who specializes in traditional American tattoos. 

Be open to the advice and suggestions your tattoo artist gives you. They’re the professional, so they’ll know what’s going to look good. 

If you are sticking with one type of style for your patchwork sleeve, it’s a good idea to stay with one artist. However, if you’re opting for a mixed style sleeve, it may make sense to go to different tattoo artists for your tattoos depending on which style they’re experienced in. 

Filler Options

You can just choose to leave the space between the different tattoos blank, or you can have “filler” tattoos. Filler tattoos can simply be dots or mini symbols like stars that can easily fit in the odd gaps. 

“Depending on the size of the areas you’re looking to tattoo, a little fun symbol or just little trinkets can go in between big designs. But they need to stay simple to fit in small spots,”

Allure
Ocean And Nature Themed Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Ocean And Nature Themed Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo @_paigeparker_

Patchwork Sleeve Ideas

There are so many different options when it comes to patchwork sleeve tattoos. From floral vine tattoos to minimalist designs, here are some ideas for your sleeve:

Nature Themed Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Nature Themed Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo @tattoo.mariah

Nature Patchwork Tattoo Sleeve

A floral patchwork sleeve tattoo can be a beautiful, feminine route to go. You can choose a range of different flowers, or pick a specific floral that has meaning for you, such as your zodiac sign’s flower. 

A nature themed patchwork tattoo also gives you the opportunity to add other elements, such as vines, butterflies, bees, or ladybugs to add more meaning. 

Traditional Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Traditional Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo @alexduquettetattoos

American Traditional Patchwork Tattoo Sleeve

A popular theme for patchwork sleeves is traditional American tattoos. This style of tattooing is defined by thick lines, minimal shading, and saturated colors. 

There are many different elements that encompass the old-school American style that was popularised among sailors and army members in the early 1900s. 

Motifs include swallows, anchors, ships, pin-up girls, roses, nautical stars, hearts, and daggers.

Dainty Patchwork Tattoo Sleeve

A dainty patchwork sleeve has an airy and light overall appearance. So, the tattoo designs are on the smaller side and are usually feminine with intricate details. This can include tiny flowers and symbols with pastel colors.

Flash Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Flash Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo @becca_tattoo

Patchwork Mixed Style Tattoo Sleeve

A mixed style patchwork sleeve tattoo includes many different varieties of tattoos. As you can see in the above example, the sleeve includes a detailed heart tattoo along with a simplistic dog character, flowers, as well as words.

Minimalist Symbols Patchwork Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Minimalist Symbols Patchwork Tattoo @wellwornink

Minimalist Patchwork Sleeve Tattoo 

This patchwork option has a lot of blank space between simplistic tattoo designs. In the above example, there are small symbols spaced far apart along the arm. 

One thing to be aware of when it comes to a minimalistic patchwork sleeve is that if you get any more designs on your arm, the smaller tattoos may get lost. 

No matter which way you go with your patchwork sleeve, it’s important to look after your tattoos. As your arms are exposed to the elements often, there is a good chance that they’ll fade due to the damaging rays of the sun.

To counteract this and keep your sleeve looking as fresh as possible for as long as possible, always hydrate your skin and protect it with sunscreen once it’s healed.

“It’s only after your tattoo is healed (about four weeks later, after the peeling stage is over) is it time to put on the sunscreen,”

Refinery 29

You can’t put sunscreen on a healing tattoo as it can cause an allergic reaction or irritation; you’ve got to cover it up if you go outside. So, you may want to consider getting tatted in the winter instead of during summer.  

Nature Patchwork Half Sleeve Tattoo | selftattoo.com
Nature Patchwork Half Sleeve Tattoo @darkside_tattoo_collective

A patchwork sleeve tattoo can be an amazing opportunity to unleash your creativity!

Through the thoughtful curation of elements and styles, careful consideration of placement, and collaboration with a skilled tattoo artist (or a few!), a patchwork sleeve becomes a living canvas that evolves with you.

It can be an amazing artistic way to document your experiences, struggles, and personality.

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