The Tattoo Designs People Most Requested and Regretted in These Top 10, Tatt-Centric Cities
Walking into a tattoo studio is a lot like walking down the aisle. Whether it’s a spontaneous decision or something you’ve been contemplating for years, what happens at the tattoo chair is a lifelong commitment—or at least it’s supposed to be.
Groupon customers are among the most fearless when it comes to getting inked, and to see which cities racked up the most tattoo designs in 2015, we analyzed a year’s worth of data, then rounded it out with analysis and observations from experts at some of the top tattoo business on Groupon.
Our research revealed something else: not all tattoos are forever. Other cities emerged as hot spots for tattoo removal. So what makes for a popular tattoo? And which tattoo designs do people wind up regretting? Below, check out answers to these and other tattoo-related questions.
Top Tattoo Cities
- San Antonio
- Las Vegas
These five cities showed us that popular tattoos, like beloved foods or sports, vary from region to region—sometimes even within a single state.
“When I worked in Portland it was geometric shapes and dot-matrix shading,” said Nicole Ferreira of Back40tattoo in Oregon. “Here in Molalla, a smaller logging community, we often see more Oregon-inspired and hunting-and-fishing-themed tattoos.”
Here are more examples of the year’s tattoo trends from across the country:
Skulls. Beautiful, Beautiful Skulls.
The tattoo trend: Gnarly, greyscale skulls wrapped in colorful flowers.
Why it’s popular: The skull is a pretty straightforward representation of death, so how exactly do flowers fit in with that? Kathleen Murphy of Obsidian Tattoo suggested that these types of tattoos are a way to “represent one's own death and rebirth into a new self.”
How to make it your own: Incorporate the flower of your birth month.
Designs That Take Flight
The tattoo trend: Birds, butterflies, or pretty much anything else with wings.
Why it’s popular: Choosing a winged creature can express more than a desire to fly; it might also represent rising to an occasion, pushing past one’s goals, or even achieving a higher plane of existence. Plus birds are like, really pretty.
How to make it your own: Give the bird a name, then never, ever tell anyone what it is.
Worshipping the Ground They Walk(ed) On
The tattoo trend: The same geometric, runway-inspired carpet design in the background of photographs of those traveling through PDX since 1987.
Why it’s popular: Most people wish they could love something as much as Portlanders love—er, loved—their airport’s carpet. Much to locals’ chagrin, PDX began removing the carpet in 2015, so these tattoos have to come to serve as a tribute to the beloved flooring.
How to make it your own: Think about framing the geometric design within the outline of a favorite shape, or add the date when you ate a cinnamon bun that was somehow more than just a cinnamon bun.
The Most Popular Tattoo Design of 2015
The Infinity Symbol
Our research showed that while America is clearly a land of tattoo diversity, other tattoo designs are universally popular. Both Nicole Ferreira and San Antonio artist Robin Fitzgerald said there was one 2015 design that remained a mainstay: the infinity symbol.
Robin, who works out of Minds Eye Tattooing & Piercing in San Antonio, says this is “the biggest tattoo going around right now,” and credits (or perhaps blames) Pinterest and other image-sharing sites for its enduring popularity.
Plus, you can customize it with all sorts of things: flowers, quotes, a birthdate. Just think twice before adding your significant other’s name, which brings us to our next section.
Top Tattoo-Removal Cities
- Oklahoma City
“In a way, getting a tattoo of your lover is a curse,” says Mike Livermore of MEDermis Laser Clinic in Austin. “Names are the most common tattoo that we remove. All of them are ex-lovers.”
As Mike’s experience shows, tattoo removal trends have less to do with a person’s hometown and more to do with his or her life experiences.
From laser clinics across the country, here are some of the common tattoo designs people end up regretting:
Tattoo Regret #1:
The Life-Changing Event That Never Should Have Happened
What it is: An anniversary date, a person’s name, or any other tribute to some life-changing moment that eventually turned sour.
Why they want it gone: People change, move on from relationships, and have someone beat their top score in Pac-Man. No one wants to be reminded of any of that.
Tattoo Regret #2:
The Patriotic Design
What it is: A national monument, a country’s flag, or some other way to show allegiance to the land of your birth.
Why they want it gone: At the time, it seemed like a good idea to give the Statue of Liberty a skull face, or have “Made in the U.S.A.” tattooed across the forehead; but as it turns out, most people can tell where someone’s from by looking at their driver’s license—or just asking.
Tattoo Regret #3:
The Pop Culture Reference from 7 Years Ago
What it is: Movie characters, quotes, or anything else that was once at the forefront of the cultural zeitgeist.
Why they want it gone: Everyone was quoting 2008’s movie villains in 2008, but their words and faces are often irrelevant within a few years.
Think Before You Ink
So, what’s the takeaway from our 2015 tattoo retrospective? There’s no definitive answer as to whether a person should or shouldn’t get a tattoo, but it is important to consider potential tattoo designs carefully, and make sure you’re ready to live with the chosen design forever.
Kathleen Murphy of Obsidian Tattoo gave us some closing advice. “Every tattoo has meaning,” she said, recommending “tattoos that tell a story and show respect to the past”.
Andrew is a senior writer, a singer, and an occasional actor. He spends the rest of his time playing guitar in the back of bars and trying to convince at least one of his friends to go bowling.