Even the non-inked among you will have noticed that it’s in no way taboo to get a tattoo anymore, particularly if you’re female. In fact, a recent poll in the US found that 47 per cent of women aged 18-35 have tattoos, compared with 25 per cent of men. These days, the experience of getting a tattoo is more like going to a swish hair salon than a grubby, old-fashioned parlour. At Bang Bang in New York – favoured by everyone from Rihanna to Rita Ora and Justin Bieber – the chic concrete interior and pink-collared Chihuahua dashing around do wonders to relax the variety of people waiting for an appointment.
‘Tattoo shops used to be scary places, but thanks to reality TV shows like LA Ink and Dublin Ink, people saw that tattoo parlours aren’t all dodgy,’ says Rocky Rakovic, editor-in-chief of Inked magazine. ‘Because the shops in those shows were pristine, people started to expect that look. Now every reputable tattoo shop is cleaner than your doctor’s office.’
Shoreditch’s Good Times, which you may have seen on London Ink, is one of these new-gen establishments. Its light-flooded studio has high, lofty ceilings, fresh flowers and visitors including Boy George and Kate Moss. Founder Nikole Lowe wanted the opposite of her first tattoo experience in the early 90s: ‘I almost walked out. I had to talk myself into going back in there. So I wanted Good Times to be light, welcoming and homely; a relaxing environment.’
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Social media has also made tattoos more mainstream, spreading design trends further and faster. ‘Instagram means a tattooer in Los Angeles can overnight inspire one in Liverpool,’ says Rakovic. This means that while a tattoo design will always be an incredibly personal decision, strong trends start to emerge. The experts agree that women are favouring small, simple designs and tattoos with a lot of colour at the moment. ‘A new-ish hot feminine style is watercolour tattoos like those done by Sasha Unisex and Amanda Wachob. I think placement is actually the biggest thing right now. The trendy spots women are inking are their spines, napes, wrists and sternums.’
Even models, who previously ensured that tattoos were in areas that they could easily hide for catwalk shows and photo shoots, are now being booked because they have visible ones. Just look at Cara Delevingne, who has 20 tatts (and counting).
But if you’re thinking about getting an inking, it’s worth putting the time in to research an artist. ‘Every tattooist has their own trends,’ explains renowned artist Sasha Unisex. ‘Mine are unicorns, foxes, flowers, domestic animals and space. Also, meet the artist first as not everyone gets along!’ Lowe adds a very important piece of advice, ‘If you’re getting it put on and it’s not in the right place, say something – because it’s on you forever.’
One final tip from Rakovic: ‘This is a couture piece of permanent fashion, so splurge. Your tattoo will last longer than the most expensive Manolo Blahniks. Also, spell check!’
Need some tiny ink inspo? These celebrity tattoos just hit the top of our lust-list