When it came to celebrity news in 2020, no one seemed able to resist seeing stars' latest tattoos. From Hailey Bieber's tiny "J" to
Bella Hadid's shoulder ink, there was plenty of inspo for those looking for more body art. But now, there are a slew of 2021 tattoo trends to consider before you get inked.
Bustle reached out to notable tattoo artists — like celebrity piercer and owner of
Body Electric Tattoo Brian Keith Thompson, artist Huka Lewis at Royal Heritage Tattoo, Alysha Howard of Ink and Dagger Tattoo in Roswell, Georgia, and plenty more pros — to chat about 2021's hottest ink designs.
According to these artists, some of the same motifs and designs that were big the past few years will be sticking around (think symbols and minimalistic art), but they'll be joined by some new — and maybe unexpected — trends in both placement and style. If you were planning to get a new bit of body art in 2021 or if you're still on the fence and just want to see some inspiration for your Pinterest board, here are some of 2021's tattoo trends, as predicted by experts. One thing's for sure: Just because a tattoo is tiny doesn't mean it can't be intricate.
Perhaps one of the most surprising predictions comes from Royal Heritage Tattoo's
Huka Lewis. For her, 2021 will be the year of the coverup — not exactly the new tattoo.
"I think the biggest tattoo trends for 2021will be coverups, as lockdown has given people a lot of time to look at themselves and think about what they don’t like and [what they] would like to change," she tells Bustle. "The realization [has been] that time is short and things could change at any time, so why wait?"
Amy Leavell Bransford, artist and owner of SparrowHawk, says that psychedelic-inspired tattoos with bright colors and bold black lines will be major for 2021 and points to SparrowHawk artist Brucie's work as a prime example. "I'd describe my style as illustrative surrealism," they tell Bustle. "I love using bold lines and bright pops of color. Kinda psychedelic acid art." The funkier the better.
Celebrity piercer and owner of Body Electric Tattoo
Brian Keith Thompson sees larger-scale pieces as becoming popular, which is the opposite of one of 2020's biggest trends, micro tattoos. Think Cardi B's peacock tattoo, for one (Thompson, BTW, happens to be behind her well-known dermal piercings).
"I am seeing more people getting larger tattoos right now," he tells Bustle. "I think it's partly because of 2020, and people [feeling] like the world is broken." His theory? People are abiding by the philosophy that they've got nothing to lose, so why
not go big with their ink?
Another trend Thompson sees for 2021 is highly symbolic tattoos like religious emblems (à la Demi Lovato's cross on her hand) and memorial tattoos. This can be anything from crosses to clouds — whatever symbolizes your beliefs.
For U.K.-based tattoo artist
Zaya, astrology and astronomically-inspired pieces are a growing trend to expect in the new year. "I think a tattoo trend of 2021 will be all things astral and mystical," she tells Bustle. "People are getting more interested in star signs, the sun, and moon phases." She points to tiny, "twinkly" stars combined with dot-work as a dainty tattoo idea that fits the bill.
In addition to the new star and moon designs Zaya sees coming, she also predicts that an older standby will stick around in the ink world. "Floral tattoos won’t be going anywhere," she tells Bustle. "The delicate and organic nature of wildflower tattoos make them so appealing to most, and it’s something you can’t really regret, as long as it's done well. People also carry lots of meaning with flowers, like memories of loved ones."
In line with Thompson's prediction for bigger pieces, Body Electric tattoo artist
Ray Jimenez says highly visible body art will also be a trend. "Most tattooed people want to be able to show the work," he tells Bustle, adding that the forearms, hands, and fingers will be popular placements in the year to come.
Jimenez also predicts that not every tattoo has to
mean something in 2021. "Trends I’ve noticed are motifs, mandalas, patterns, and large-scale symmetry," he says. "People are more open to designs that are aesthetically pleasing and don’t necessarily have or need a clear meaning behind them."
Johnny Dagger is another pro who sees a 2020 ink trend (one that was popular among celebrities) continuing into 2021. His take? Minimal tattoos are sticking around. "With minimal tattoos, they are like little accessories that you can collect and dress up or dress down," he tells Bustle, noting that these small designs can be simple but profound. Alysha Howard, artist at Ink and Dagger in Atlanta, sees people upgrading and expanding their existing ink into larger-scale pieces in 2021. "In the new year, I think people are going to start going bigger with their tattoos," she says. "A lot of my recent clients have started with something small and then have decided they want to turn it into a full sleeve. With tattooing becoming more socially acceptable, people are getting bolder in their choices." Her prediction? You're about to see a lot more half-sleeves and full-thigh pieces.