Unlike a glossy lid or a rose-gold hair color, a tattoo is an aesthetic choice you'll have forever (not counting cover-ups and removal, that is). But very much like any other beauty statement, tattoo trends fluctuate over time, and what was en vogue 20 years ago, no matter how timeless it seemed, may not be quite as hip now (ahem, Chinese characters on white people, ahem, ahem). This isn't to say that all "trendy" tattoos are bad. After all, a tattoo represents a moment in time, a memory, and just like feathered hair or a pair of bell-bottom jeans, it doesn't have to stay totally in style through every decade to seem nostalgic and cool in its own right.
I recently scored a tattoo appointment with my absolute favorite tattooer right now, Laura Martinez, the Paris-born, NYC-based artist and founder of buzzy Brooklyn tattoo parlor Fleur Noire (Ariana Grande's personal tattoo shop of choice). Martinez specializes in fine-lined designs, which just so happen to be very of the moment, so she sees a lot of especially au courant trends move through her shop doors. Curious to get Martinez's hot take on impending tattoo trends, I asked her to predict what types of designs she foresees becoming popular in 2019.
As she embedded an abstract flower in the dermis of my forearm, she told me that the following five tattoo trends are sure to blow up next year. Keep scrolling to see what she had to say.
Rotator Cuff Tattoos
"The top of the shoulder might get super trendy in 2019," is Martinez's first prediction. As she explains, this placement has a good chance of exploding due to the particular style of tattoos that are becoming more popular—that being "more organic, as opposed to traditional, where you'd need a flat surface, like the forearm or back of the leg, to see the entire design." The rotator cuff is easy to conceal, but it's still "a feminine and sexy part of the body," says Martinez, just like an off-the-shoulder top, and it lends itself well to abstract designs like florals or geometric mandalas.
Artists are steadily improving and inventing new techniques for white ink, says Martinez, who predicts that the next few years will show a major uptick in the number of white tattoos we see out in the wild. "More and more people come to my shop asking for white ink," she says. "So I think [the trend] is only going to get bigger and better."
Simple, clean lines—whether they're on the fingers, arms, or down the entire body—are going to be huge in 2019. This style of tattoo is "super graphic, and we'll be seeing it more and more," says Martinez. "I love doing them. These are going to be big."
"Flowers never die," says Martinez. "It's always flowers, no matter what. Girls, guys, every type of flower you can imagine, they change all the time, and they go with your mood forever." But increasingly, tattoo consumers are interested less in brightly colored florals and more into super-duper fine-lined designs, executed with a single-needle tattoo machine. (Fun fact: It's a myth that single-needle tattoos are a brand-new trend, and that they don't age as well. This type of tattoo has been performed for decades, and they heal just as well as any other well-executed piece.)
"You know what's one surprising thing I think is going to be big in 2019?" Martinez asked me. "Face tattoos." These aren't the scary prison tattoos that might come to mind, she promises, but rather dainty stars, beauty marks, and freckles.
Next up: Don't miss 15 tiny-tattoo artists who specialize in pretty ink.