Fall 2023's Hottest Tattoo Trends Are All About Individuality

When it comes to tattoo designs, it seems there's no limit to what a talented artist can paint on your skin. Especially with the modernization of tattooing techniques and machines, if you can conceive it, you can probably find a tattoo artist to bring it to life. This means we're seeing more art-style experimentation in tattoos, especially as they're being seen more as a form of personal expression and less as a form of rebellion. 


As such, the range of art expressed through tattooing is broader than ever before. This means that along with fashion and hair trends this fall, we're now keeping up with tattoo trends — and the fall is the perfect time to get a new tat. While the summer months are fun for showing off tattoos, the cooler temperatures in the fall are excellent for the healing process (via Stories & Ink). Once the heat lets up, diving into fresh ink that can be protected and kept free of sweat and UV exposure is the way to go.

The trending tattoo designs we're seeing pop up are more stunning than ever. As with most trends, nostalgia plays a key factor, and we're seeing fun new takes on old-school Americana tattoos hit the streets. Small and dainty tattoos are also chic, as are abstract designs and tattoos bursting with color. If you're thinking of visiting the tattoo parlor this fall but aren't sure what to get, there's definitely a trending tattoo style that you can individualize to create the perfect piece of art.


Dainty doodles

One low-key tattoo design that we're happy to see trending is the doodle tattoo. Dainty doodle tattoos are pretty much what they sound like — tattoos that look straight out of a sketchbook. If you used to pass the time in class lectures by doodling in the margins of your notebook, you may already be loaded with inspo for a dainty doodle tattoo, and it could be just what you're looking for if you want something understated, sentimental, or even just a little cute.


Depending on the artist you go to, they may have some flash-doodle designs available. However, it's just as easy to create your own, and you can incorporate color into it if you want to make it more visually interesting. Or, if you've been wanting to get matching tattoos with a friend, why not draw doodles for each other to get as tattoos? You could get a symbol that's only meaningful to you, or you could get something sentimental, like a paw print to represent your favorite fur friend. However you do(odle) it, these small, dainty tattoos are perfect for a quick and easy trip to the tattoo parlor. 

Revamped Americana

Also called "neo-traditional" tattoos, we've seen the classic Americana tattoo get a bit of an upgrade lately. People are opting for Americana tattoos that are more lifelike, meaning they're likely to incorporate realistic shading, a whole lot of color, and ultra-defined linework. If you're looking for a big and bold piece of art that can still fit in with your Americana-style sleeve while elevating it a bit, a neo-traditional tattoo may be right up your alley. 


As long as you're in the market for medium-large pieces that you want to look as realistic as possible, it shouldn't be hard to find a neo-traditional design that you love. You could get a skull with realistic, hollowed-out cheeks or a piece to look like your pet. Or, you could combine a neo-traditional style with a more elegant design, like a leafy or floral piece. Get a little campy with it by going for a neo-traditional design of your favorite cartoon character or a meaningful character from your childhood.

Fine-line sketches

On the other hand, fans of delicate, elegant tattoos will probably find themselves drawn to fine-line tattoos. Fine-line tattooing first started being explored by the industry in the 1970s, and it's only grown in popularity since then. Because fine-line tattoos allow for more delicate designs, they've opened up tattooing to a whole new audience that may want to get some ink but aren't fans of thick, bold lines and more traditional tattoos. 


If fine-line tattoos sound right up your alley, we're right there with you, and we're happy to report that the possibilities with fine-line tattoos are also pretty endless. If you want a design that will be super understated, stick to black ink and get minimal shading (or no shading at all). Floral outlines are ever-popular and the perfect option if you find yourself constantly drawn to gardens. You could also use the fine line technique to get a design that's too intricate for bold tattoo lines; for example, a snake's scales can be well-defined with fine line tattoos, as could the intricate details of a butterfly. 

Dainty minimalism

A cousin to the fun doodle tattoo (and a tattoo style that often employs fine-line techniques) is the dainty minimalist tattoo. These tattoos tend to be small and barely noticeable but often pack a ton of meaning for the wearer. They're the perfect option if you're looking for a small, understated sentiment or reminder of a loved one or if you want to memorialize something special in your life. Dainty tattoos also make for great finger tattoos.


We love dainty minimalist tattoos because they're easy to get, and the meaning that's often behind them means you're unlikely to ever grow tired of them. If a loved one or a pet has recently passed and you want something to remember them by, get a small tattoo of their name or a symbol that reminds you of them somewhere on your body. 

New business owners might like to get a dainty tattoo of their logo as a symbol of all they've accomplished. Evil eyes, Greek symbols, runes, or other symbology may be meaningful to you, so go ahead and get it as a dainty tattoo. Dainty tattoos are more for you than for the rest of the world, so whatever you do, just make sure they're meaningful to you. 

Color, color, color

Another tattoo trend that's on the rise is bright, vibrant colors. We're seeing tattoos in bold hues rather than the traditional black ink more than ever. Color is being used in different styles, as well, from watercolor tattoos to the traditional in-the-lines color of neo-traditional tattoos. And if you have darker skin and have been told that it won't take color, think again. Find a tattoo artist who's willing to do color tests on your skin, and you'll probably find that colored tats may be more accessible to you than you thought. 


The next time you visit your favorite tattoo artist, talk to them about incorporating color into your next piece. If you're already sporting some black ink tattoos, you could also talk to your artist about injecting some color into your existing art as well. A single color can make a stunning statement while keeping the overall look of your tattoo minimal. Or, if you really want to go all out, get multiple colors on your next tattoo. Even a few colors can make a stunning sentiment when the shading is done well, like in the floral tattoo pictured above. 

Temporary tats

Are you not ready to commit to permanent ink just yet? We get it — tattoos are a lifelong commitment, and you want to be sure you'll love your ink before you make it a part of you permanently. If that's the case, we have some happy news. Temporary tattoos are more accessible now than ever, and they offer a great way to take your proposed tattoo design for a test run before going into the studio to get inked up. 


Companies like Inkbox offer thousands of tattoo designs that they'll ship to your door. Once applied, the designs last a week or two, giving you plenty of time to take your proposed tattoo for a test run. If you'd prefer to just draw your tats on yourself, they also offer a tattoo marker; or, if you have a specific design in mind, send it over, and they'll print a custom temporary tattoo for you.

However, the designs available are varied and numerous, so don't feel like you have to come up with your own right off the bat. Who knows? One of their pre-designed temporary tattoos could just provide a great springboard to get your creative juices flowing for your next custom tattoo.

Grayscale geometric

Maybe you don't love getting a lot of color in your tats; you prefer to keep your style simple and elevated with blackwork tattoos. Blackwork will always be a timeless and popular tattoo option, and that doesn't mean your tats have to be any less intricate or eye-catching than the ones that employ color. Actually, when done right, grayscale tattoos can be just as stunning, especially intricate geometric tattoos.


Geometric tattoos will incorporate lots of fine details, like lines, angular and rounded shapes, arrows, and even some dot work. If you want a custom geometric tattoo, find an artist with plenty of experience in the area and tell them about the elements you'd like to incorporate.

You can make nearly any design look a bit edgy when you work it into a grayscale geometric tattoo; we're obsessed with the antlers, bird skull, and moon phases depicted in the design above. If you get a custom geometric tattoo, you're unlikely to see anything like it on anybody else, making it a great option when you want a tattoo that'll have you standing out from the crowd.

Unique flash

If you're familiar with tattoo parlors, you're probably accustomed to seeing walls or binders of flash designs as soon as you walk in. These pieces are designed to be done fairly quickly, and if you've been in multiple tattoo parlors, you may have noticed that lots of flash designs are pretty standard across shops. Traditional flash tattoos based on the Americana style are easy to find anywhere, but now, we're seeing artists use flash tattoos as an opportunity to showcase their own designs. 


Don't be surprised if you walk into a shop or check out an artist's Instagram page only to be confronted with a bunch of unique, quirky flash pieces you've never seen before. We love the expressionism in today's tattoo culture, especially as it translates to flash designs. This new movement in flash tattoos means you can walk into a parlor and still get a flash design you're unlikely to see on others without collaborating with an artist to develop your own design. Small flash designs also offer the opportunity to create a unique sleeve if you get multiple flash tattoos from the same artist. 

Stamp sleeves

Speaking of unique tattoo sleeves, one tattoo trend we simply can't get enough of is the stamp sleeve. If you think that getting a tattoo sleeve means filling up your arm with thick lines, plenty of blackwork, and some bold splashes of color, think again. Nowadays, we're seeing minimalist tattoo sleeves hit the streets, and we're obsessed with the dainty elegance that a stamp sleeve has to offer. 


Stamp sleeves are generally comprised of small, minimalist tattoos that look like, well, stamps. The simplicity of each tattoo makes it easy to add to your sleeve whenever the mood strikes. Get your stamp sleeve tattoos done in fine-line style if you're going for more elegance, and if you want to go the extra mile in making your sleeve tattoos cohesive, plan them around a particular theme. The tropical ocean vibes of the sleeve above make it feel like summer all year long, while floral and leafy stamps could bring spring to mind, or you could even theme your stamp tattoos around your favorite animated series. 

Botanical beauty

Speaking of elegance and fine lines, there may be nothing more delicate than a nice botanical tattoo. Botanical tattoos offer a huge range of possibilities — after all, the species of flowers, trees, and other plants you could get are nearly limitless. This makes it easy to get a botanical sleeve while still maintaining some variety amongst your tattoos, as you opt for different species and add other natural accents like butterflies or bees. 


The other thing we love about botanical tattoos is that they can be customized to fit exactly what you're looking for in a tattoo. If you want to start small, opt for a tiny leafy branch or a single flowering bud to get your feet wet in the trend. On the other hand, a big and bold bouquet might be more your speed. Floral accents can also be found in traditional Americana tattoos (like a skull decorated with floral accents). The versatility that botanical tattoos offer makes them a super popular option, and one we wouldn't be surprised if you're already sporting somewhere on your skin. 

Abstract shapes and colors

Maybe you're looking for a tattoo that you know for a fact nobody else will have on their body. Or, perhaps you just want some ink but don't necessarily want a picture of anything recognizable on your skin. If either is the case, try collaborating with a tattoo artist to make an abstract tattoo design you're obsessed with.


One great thing about abstract tattoos is that even though you may not be creating a specific image, you can still customize your tattoo to fit your personality. More gentle, flirty individuals might appreciate the use of curvy lines and watercolors, while no-nonsense personalities may opt for angular lines and bold colors. 

It's also a good idea to know where you want to place your abstract tattoo before you start the designing process, as the placement will help determine your tattoo's size and shape. If you want something a bit edgy, an abstract design may make for a stunning collarbone tattoo, while less adventurous folks might want to stick to a more nondescript placement like the forearm or thigh. 


Nostalgia returns

As with most trends we're seeing nowadays, nostalgia is playing a huge role in this fall's tattoo trends in a variety of ways. You might see traditional Americana designs like barbed wire make a resurgence and even get a little bit of an upgrade. Even tattoo placement is seeing some nostalgic returns as lower back tattoos (yes, the infamous "tramp stamp") come back on the scene. 


As nostalgia continues to dominate many popular trends, we're even seeing individuals use tattoos to pay homage to nostalgic characters of old. For example, who isn't obsessed with the floral "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" tattoo pictured above?

We also wouldn't be surprised if you see Barbie-inspired tattoos hit the streets as a nod to Greta Gerwig's new "Barbie" movie, and '90s tattoo trends like suns, dolphins, butterflies, and popular '90s cartoon characters are back on the rise as well. If you find yourself reminiscing on days of old, go ahead and use nostalgia as the muse for your next tattoo appointment. 

Collaborative and customized

Yes, it's still totally possible and perfectly acceptable to get a pre-designed tattoo when you head into the parlor. However, with the rise of custom flash tattoos also comes the rise of custom tattoos in general, especially as tattooing is seen as a means to express your artistic self. If you balk at the idea of getting a tattoo that someone else may already have, or if you simply can't find one that captures the sentiment you're after, find an artist to help you design a custom tattoo. 


When you're looking to get a custom tattoo design, keep in mind that many artists may require a deposit before they start designing since it will take an ample amount of their time to design it before they eventually ink you up. You'll also want to look for an artist whose tattoo designs you like in general.

Ask your artist to see a portfolio of their work (many will have examples on their website or an Instagram page), and once you find an artist whose portfolio is in a similar style to what you're after, contact them and see if they're willing to collaborate with you on a piece. The end result will be something completely unique to you, and chances are, your artist will love the opportunity to work with you on a tattoo that's meaningful to you. 


Hand tattoos

Did your parents ever tell you never to get hand tattoos because they're difficult to cover and you'd never get a job as an adult? Fortunately, tattoos are less likely to be stigmatized nowadays since they're seen less as an act of rebellion and more as a form of artistic expression. This shift in societal attitude toward tattoos, combined with the rise of fine-line and dainty tattoos, is making hand and finger tattoos more accessible than ever.


If you want to get a hand or finger tattoo (or even a wedding ring tattoo), don't expect to be able to walk into a tattoo parlor and get one right away. Because the skin on your hands and fingers is extra-thin, hand tattoos require more precision, and there's more room for error, so not all tattoo artists will do them. Don't let this keep you from getting one, though — just do your research and call tattoo parlors before heading in to see if they host artists who are experienced with hand and finger tattoos.