The Cool Girl’s Guide To Tattoos: Numbers, Names + What To Know

Thinking of getting an inking? Read this first.

Even those of you who aren’t inked will have observed that getting a tattoo is no longer frowned upon, especially if you’re a woman. In fact, according to a recent poll in the United States, 47% of women aged 18 to 35 had tattoos, compared to 25% of men. These days, the experience of getting a tattoo is more like going to a swish hair salon than a grubby, old-fashioned parlor. At Bang Bang in New York, favored 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.

guide to tattoos

‘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 persuade myself to return inside. So I wanted Good Times to be light, welcoming and homely, a relaxing environment.’

guide to tattoos

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 favoring small, simple designs and tattoos with a lot of color 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).

guide to tattoos

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!’

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