As kids these days, we're lucky, because the generations that came before us took tattoos from the shadows into the mainstream. And while they were paving the way for our easy access to ink, they littered that path with enough cheesy, clichéd tattoos to fill the lower backs of all of our ancestors. So what exactly constitutes a clichéd tattoo? I asked accomplished tattoo artist JR Tubbs of True Till Death Tattoo Co. in Ashtabula, Ohio. He had great advice: "Cliché tattoos right now are pretty much anything you're printing off of Pinterest and bringing in to your artist. The little arrows, the flower turning into birds ..."
He has a point. How original could your tattoo be if it has been passed around social media by a million people (or more)? You want your tattoo artist to get excited about your design, not roll their eyes and yawn because your super special, meaningful tattoo was the same super special and meaningful tattoo of nine other random people this week.
So does it mean that you suck at life if you have a Pinterest tattoo? Of course not. Any tattoo, whether trendy or not, can be great if it's well-done and meaningful to you. And Tubbs admits that he doesn't hate doing trendy tattoos. He just wants to make sure that you put a good amount of thought into what you're getting. Totally reasonable, considering how you're adding permanent art to your body. When in doubt, Tubbs recommends that you veer toward traditional and go with "classic, bold, timeless designs. Things that won't go out of style in five or ten years. Designs that our grandfathers and great grandfathers wore."
Here are some ideas for tattoos that haven’t yet become tired. But before we get to them, just remember that it’s your body, and you can put whatever you want on it — even if it’s a cliché. You do you.
1. Classic Imagery
This is what JR Tubbs means by traditional tattoos that have stood the test of time.
These designs, styles, and colors are part of a legacy that will outlive us all.
2. Nature And Travel
Nature and travel tattoos are easy to turn into popular modern clichés, but they also translate well to the traditional style.
3. Pinup Girls
Whether you find pinup girl tattoos objectifying or empowering, they're ingrained in history and here to stay.
4. Hobbies And Fandoms
If you are obsessed with a particular hobby or fandom (and who isn't?), then you can create a meaningful, personal tattoo relating to it.
5. Playfulness And Whimsy
There's just as much room for color, whimsy, and playful tattoo designs with modern themes.
A lot of traditional tattoos may have girly themes, but still feel masculine. The right artist can give you a girly traditional tattoo without a cookie-cutter feel.
7. Anchors And Florals
Anchors and flowers are big on the tattoo cliché list, but this one proves that they can be done in a pretty badass way.
Or you can channel your inner wildcat. But, like, in a fierce, powerful way.
But sometimes, you just want a sentimental tattoo of a girl and her horse. It's OK.
As a final piece of advice, Tubbs' Instagram reminds us to use social media to pick our tattoo artists, not our tattoos.