While 2020 kept us close to home (and stopped us from following our greatest love, travelling), it did have one benefit. It gave all us creative types a chance to spend more time exploring our own art. And that’s meant some wildly ingenious and creative tattoo trends for 2021.
Here are some of our favourites.
Top Tattoo Trends of 2021
1. Optical Illusions
We’ve always like optical illusions. And we certainly like tattoos. The combination of optical illusions and body art can be wonderfully bizarre, thought provoking and just damn interesting. Whether it’s lines spiraling in on themselves, or large body art that leaves us wondering whether we’re looking at tattooed skin, or carved wood, this is a trend we can’t wait to see more of in 2021.
We don’t know if it’s because people are pining for the better days (pre-2020) or it’s just the cycle of styles that happen in all creative industries, but old is new again.
Nostalgic tattoos embrace several genres, including the Chicano style, 90s tribal and classic iconography. But these old school tattoos, aren’t your granddaddy’s tattoos. Modern artists are taking them modern places – and making sure that just because they’re nostalgic, doesn’t mean they’re old fashioned.
3. Visible medium
The visible medium trend is where you can ‘see’ the medium that the artist is working in – or it looks like you can. This shows up in tattoos as crayon drawings, watercolours, paint splashes or even chalk. All are becoming popular ways for people to express their art and tell their story.
We love this trend of childlike colouring pieces, or art that combines fine lines and liquid colours dripping into each other. It’s brings an awareness of the artistry that underlies each tattoo and reminds us why we started to draw in the first place.
Minimal tattoos started trending in 2020, but will continue on into 2021. People love them because they’re like little vignettes. They tell a part of the story, without giving away the full plot. And the small designs are simple but incredibly profound.
5. Large Statement Pieces
On the other side of the spectrum are the large statement pieces, which are starting to become popular as well. People who have always wanted to do a big piece that really showcase their vision are feeling like now’s the time. A global pandemic can really put things into perspective and people want to live their truths now more than ever.
6. Hardcore Illustrative
Intricate, esoteric, illustrative tattoos are hugely popular coming into 2021. These are your intensely detailed linework images that are reminiscent of classical etchings or drypoint artworks. We’re seeing all kinds of motifs featured in this style – from religious to dark art to alchemical – but regardless of the style, the outcome is fantastically rich and elaborate. A feast for the eyes.
7. Black or Grey Background
Black or grey backgrounds have been used in the past for doing cover ups. But we’ve been seeing this trend come into its own for totally aesthetic reasons – and we’re fans. The dark background lets the tattoo, which appears in the negative space, leap out of the skin. It’s been beautifully done with all kinds of styles – but botanicals and illustrative realist pieces are some of our favourites.
Botanical tattoos remain hugely popular, and the trend is on the rise. People are using them both as standalone pieces, and intertwined with other motifs. There’s been an interesting intersection with 90s nostalgia, too, with a rise in people wanting the old-school rose motif worked into their pieces.
9. In Memorium
People have always turned to tattoos for remembrance – loved ones or pets who have died of course, but also times and places that have special memories and significance for them. Tattooing a portrait of a family member, friend, partner or pet is always important and precious to us.
10. Thought Provoking Motifs
Because we don’t do flash tattoos, we often get the most beautiful, interesting and thought provoking motifs presented to us. Things that we would never think to draw, and that have special, important meaning to our clients – snakes bursting into flower or Poseidon in a diving suit. What do they mean? You tell us. We might not be sure, but we know it’s a strong trend continuing on into 2021.
Let’s Get Tattooed.