Tattoo Trends throughout the Years

Permanent accessories for your body, tattoos are a way to express your own individual style and personality. Like clothes, there are definite trends when it comes to tattoos. From barbed wire armbands in the early 90s to symmetrical swallows on each hip made popular by indie bands in the late 2000s, tattoo trends come and go. Here are some of the best and worst tattoo trends throughout the years.


Dolphins were all the range in the 90s. Endorsed by celebrities like Take That star Mark Owen, this tattoo trend marked the start of coloured tattoos and the world went mad for them. Shoulders and hips were the favourite locations for dolphin tattoos. In 2017, the dolphin tattoo trend is truly dead and buried and can only be found on people in their late thirties who jumped on that bandwagon including Samantha Cameron.

Barbed Wire

As mentioned in the intro, barbed wire armbands were also very popular in the 90s. Pamela Anderson got one tattooed on her arm after staring in the film Barbed and the trend exploded from there. Fast forward twenty years and Pam has since had it removed.

Chinese Symbols

In the early 2000s Chinese symbols became the must-have tattoo. Meant to represent an exoticness and deeper understanding of a far-off culture, the reality of this tattoo trend was that most people had no clue what their symbols meant and neither did the tattoo artist who drew them.


Like dolphins, butterflies became popular with the coloured ink trend. Mostly located at the bottom of the back, these kinds of tattoos developed the rather unfortunate nickname of ‘tramp stamp’ and have mostly been covered or removed in 2017.


Anchor tattoos became incredibly mainstream in the mid 2000s, however, have been around for centuries. In the 19th century, anchor tattoos were popular with seamen and pirates and were very rarely found on someone who didn’t work at sea. However, in the mid 2000s, celebrities like Kate Moss, Amy Winehouse, and Miley Cyrus popularised anchor tattoos.


Swallows are another one of those tattoos which became popular at the start of the 21st century. A stereotypical ‘white girl’ tattoo, swallows first became popular with indie rock bands and celebrities such as Jonny Depp. Although overused, the meaning behind swallow tattoos is more meaningful than most other tattoo trends – swallows always return home and are also a reminder of hope.

The moral of this article is don’t just get a tattoo because it’s trendy. Get it because it means something important to you, that way you won’t be rushing to the nearest laser removal expert ten years down the line.

If you are thinking about getting a tattoo, make sure you do your research and use a studio with experienced tattoo artists. Tribe Tattoo in the West End of Glasgow is one such parlor where you will find a number of experts in different areas of tattooing as well as laser tattoo removal for any of those 90s tattoos you wish you had never got.

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