The most popular tattoo styles are tribal, flowers, stars, crosses, butterflies, fairies, eternity symbols and dragons.
True tribal tattooing has a long history. These tattoos traditionally consisted of black ink and intricate lines heavy with symbolic meaning. Often, young men were tattooed to mark the passage from boyhood into adulthood, while women were tattooed to signify that they were ready to be married. Today, the techniques and significance of tribal tattoos are very different today. Most favor tribal tattoos because of their striking appearance.
Flower tattoos can be far more than just pretty, benign pictures. Flowers can also embody of nature, maturity, birth, life and rebirth. Specific flowers have come to represent varied cultures and beliefs. In Asia, the lotus flower has tremendous spiritual significance. The lotus figures prominently in the Creation Myths of Indian and China, and Buddha is said to have risen at the center of a Lotus Blossom.
In the West, the rose is a symbol of pure love popular with both men and women. A tattoo of a rose with prominent thorns is a reminder that love is not without risk. The rounded, cup-like shape of the flower has been long been seen as a symbol of the feminine. Flowers are also ideal for those hoping for a large variety of color choices.
The star tattoo is often considered a symbol of hope, but their nocturnal connotation can also represent the dark or the unknown. Stars can signify countless things depending on the number, color and orientation of the points. The most well known star designs are the Pentagram (five-pointed star), the Nautical Star (five-pointed star), the Hexagram or Star of David (six-pointed star) and the nonagram (nine-pointed star).
Crosses tattoo are also a very popular tattoo design. They can range of styles from angular, tribal inspired designs to curving Celtic crosses. Crosses frequently combine other popular tattoo subjects such as flowers and tribal elements. Cross tattoos are worn all over the body, from armbands to lower back pieces to ankles. A symbol with religious implications, crosses can represent faith, belief or the death of a loved one.
Many people are attracted to the colorful symmetry of butterfly tattoos, but they can have deep significance to the wearer as well. Often, butterflies signify metamorphosis, freedom, rebirth or dreams. The latter symbolism derives from the Native American belief that butterflies bring dreams while we sleep.
Angels and fairies tattoos are similarly anthropomorphic winged creatures, but they usually convey very different ideas. Angels personify divine will and are symbols of devotion, guidance and protection. Angels and crosses are often used together in memorial tattoos, as angels commonly refer to the souls of the departed.
The Fairy as a tattoo design can be a pop culture reference or a nod to ancient mythology. Fairies are inspirational, because a fairy must earn its wings. They are also transformational, because their wings allow freedom. As a tattoo design, they suggest of freedom, innocence or magic.
Historically and culturally, the infinity symbol is similar to mythological creatures such as Ouroboros, the snake that consumes its tail to form an endless circle. Circles and loops are reminiscent of the idea of life being conceived as an eternal, seasonal cycle that repeats continuously. Eternity symbols tattoo can also signify a myriad of religious beliefs, from those that embrace eternal heavenly existence to the idea of endless reincarnation.
Dragon tattoos come in two main forms: the Eastern dragon and the Western dragon. The Eastern dragon is a protective ally. It brings water, signals fertility and ensures prosperity. The Western dragon is an evil creature, a winged, fire-breathing lizard that thwarts brave warriors and threatens distressed damsels.