Thanks to the rise of inked-up Instagram celebs, and real ones like David Beckham and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, tattoos are more popular than ever.
It’s estimated that about one in five in the UK currently has one, and that number is predicted to grow steadily until ‘peak tattoo’ kicks in around 2025. But remember what they said about beards?
Of course, a tattoo is more permanent than an Insta-post (or a beard, for that matter). So if you’re itching to go under the needle, it’s worth picking something deserving of permanent residency on your body.
To push the boundaries beyond the average anchor motif, we spoke to body-art expert and the author of the upcoming London Tattoo Guide, Tom Angell, to round up some of the biggest trends for 2017.
“This style of tattooing is exactly as it sounds. Instead of using a machine, the tattooist pokes the ink into the skin using a needle bound to a stick. The resulting aesthetic looks and feels more organic and handmade, with hand poke artists often favouring small, beautiful and intricate designs.
“Grace Neutral and LA-based Tati Compton are two of the highest profile hand poke artists in the world right now, but Kat Blackstone at The Circle in Soho is another one to watch.”
“Instagram has been so important in promoting tattoo artists and their work to a global fan base. In some cases, artists become famous for a certain design […] it becomes like a calling card or a souvenir that people want to acquire.
“Two of my favourite collector’s items are Emily Malice’s pucker lips and Matty D’Arienzo’s palm tree, but going for something that’s an artist’s signature means you’re not getting something truly exclusive – a factor that’s becoming increasingly more important as people get more and more tattoos.”
So Naive Yet So
“The ‘ignorant’ or ‘naïve’ style is one that originated from the world of graffiti and street culture. Using only fast, loose and crude black line work to make up street style imagery, it’s simple in its look but big on impact.
“Traphouse is the ‘ignorant’ style’s break-out artist in the UK this year, but Dicky and Sang Bleu’s Jack Watts are also flexing their muscles in this arena too.”
“People will always get tattoos of sexy women, and the pin-up girl has been a popular icon for decades. But tattooing is about pushing the boundaries, so new versions are emerging.
“The latest trend for the humble pin-up has been to see her lose her clothes and get down and dirty in sex scenes. Ian Parkin has been one of the stand-out purveyors of this new type of X-rated pin-up girl.”
“Over the years tattoos have been vilified in the media, but what is usually overlooked is that they can be a force for good in helping people to heal, gain confidence or express themselves in a new way.
“This is none more apparent than for cancer sufferers, often people who have had a mastectomy or large surgery on their torso. More and more patients are now turning to tattoo artists this year to decorate their post-op body to help them reclaim their identity.”
“There have been plenty of attempts and fails in the past to create interactive tattoos – there was even a spate of QR code tattoos that are better left forgotten.
“This month, however, a tattoo went viral on the internet that used augmented reality technology to give the tattoo a bespoke soundtrack. This is the first example of an interactive tattoo that feels genuinely compelling and could inspire a whole range of creative applications of it. Watch this space.”
“Not so much a trend as an enduring piece of advice to anyone looking to get a tattoo. Do your research and go to see a professional tattoo artist in an established tattoo studio. There are no excuses nowadays because there is so much talent on offer. Instagram is the perfect place to seek out a quality artist.
“Don’t just go and get a tattoo in someone’s kitchen from an unlicensed artist, there are risks of infection and getting a sub-standard product. Go to the source and get the real deal.”
The London Tattoo Guide (published by Hardie Grant) is available to pre-order at Amazon, priced £12.99.