Butterfly Tattoos: The Y2K Ink Trend Coming Back To Make Mariah Carey Proud

The butterfly is practically a timeless choice for a tattoo design, and even celebs aren't immune to wanting a representation of this beautiful creature on their bodies. Mariah Carey, especially, is known for surrounding herself with butterfly themes, including getting one inked on her lower back. She has a pink and orange butterfly that she originally customized to spell out Nick Cannon's name in place of the body; she got the tattoo when the two married in 2008. They've since divorced, prompting her to retouch the piece in 2016 so that the butterfly's body is solid and the wings have a swirl pattern.

Along with her tattoo, Carey has often worn clothes, accessories, and jewelry featuring this insect, and she even named one of her albums "Butterfly." While she was dubbed the queen of butterflies back in the early 2000s, trends are cyclical, so these bugs are becoming popular again (as if they ever really went out of style!).

Whether you have a deep meaning behind getting this insect tattooed or not, they make for beautiful pieces. They're also easily customizable, so you'll never have the same ink on your body as someone else — you can always change the art style, the patterns on the wings, and whether you use color. But if you still like to take inspiration from trends, check out some of the butterfly ink looks we've spotted making a comeback.

Y2K butterfly

If you want to stay true to how butterfly tattoos often looked in the early 2000s, you should choose this design style. The thick lines and shading capture the edgy spirit of the trends at that time, and there are often flame-like additions on either side of the wings — that way, the piece looks more complete than one lonely butterfly. If you want a little more ornamentation, the border can easily be extended to frame the butterfly properly, no matter where you place it on your body.

Fine line butterfly

A fine line ink style is simple and elegant, similar to Mariah Carey's butterfly tattoo. There isn't too much going on around the bug, so there's nothing to distract you from it. Carey's small change was Nick Cannon's name in place of the body, but other tattoo variations might have a few simple accents around it. The fine lines give it a minimalistic update that's perfect for anyone looking for a more modern design.

Simple red ink butterfly

If you like the look of a butterfly design that already exists but want to customize it in a small way, changing the color is one way to make it special. Typically, tattoos are outlined in black, but you don't have to stick with this. Red is a vibrant choice that's often seen as a symbol of luck and protection, making it a great option for spicing up your new butterfly ink.

A flying trio of butterflies

While Mariah Carey's singular butterfly looks perfect on her, you might choose to have a trio flying across an area of your body. Having the butterflies in various poses can bring life to the piece since they are tattooed in action. Plus, in this particular case, their wings are designed to mimic watercolors that blend perfectly together and add a feminine touch.

Realistic butterfly

You don't have to stick to the Y2K style of a butterfly tattoo to make Mariah Carey proud — realistic renditions of these insects are also beautiful. They include a lot of color and depth to bring life to your artist's sketch. In the case of this bug, it's just the beginning of a full sleeve; once the piece is complete, you'll see it flying toward a flower. But a realistic butterfly tattoo can be just as lovely on its own, especially if you've got a favorite species.

Unique wing design

Mariah Carey chose to change the design of her butterfly's body, but you could take liberties with the pattern of the wings and add designs you'd never find in nature. Depending on what you choose, you could change the whole vibe of your butterfly — from cheery and delicate to ominous and foreboding. It's a perfect way to create a unique tattoo while staying on trend.

Celestial butterfly with flowers

For a whimsical touch, why not incorporate a butterfly into a bigger piece? Instead of just getting a simple butterfly tattoo, try including some embellishments that fit a theme. This person's butterfly is still the central focus, with a floral arrangement adorning it and the sun and the moon placed at the perimeter. The delicate linework keeps the art from looking harsh and makes it feel elegant.