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20 Tattoos we've all Seen Again and Again

An ancient art form, tattoos may have become mainstream, but they still symbolize basic human archetypes.

By Kim Mercer, Espresso

[post_ads]The history of tattoos is long and colourful. For thousands of years they have been used to signify things like status, ownership, membership, and spiritual affinity. An ancient art form, tattoos may have become mainstream, but they still symbolize basic human archetypes. They connect us to each other and to our past, which is why some are more popular than others. Here are 20 tattoos that we've all seen again and again.

Chinese Characters

Chinese characters as tattoos offer the ability to make an elegant statement in a simple way—as long as you get it right. Tattoo removal specialists report these as one of the more commonly removed tattoo designs.


Does the growing popularity of navigational tattoos mean we’re all just trying to find our way?

Inspirational Word

You might have spotted a few one-word inspirational tattoos on your Instagram now that they’ve become popular. Mantras like Inspire, Relax, Namaste and Breathe are commonly tattooed in script on wrists and arms.

The Sun

Ancient civilizations worship the sun, offering it honour and sacrifice. Sun gods, like the Indian Surya or Ancient Egypt’s Re, are immortalized in mythology. This practice continues today with sun tattoos that symbolize its central role in our lives.

Inspirational Saying

Things like Carpe diem, This too shall pass, and Believe in yourself are examples of quotes and inspirational sayings that are popular right now.


Hummingbirds are having a real moment right now. Actress Zelda Williams got a tattoo of this tiny totem in honour of her late father, Robin Williams. Not counting the proliferation of hummingbird tattoos, there are more than 300 species in the Western Hemisphere, many of which are threatened with extinction.


Actress Angelina Jolie and singers Lenny Kravitz and P!nk are just a few well-known celebs with dragon tattoos. In Asian cultures, dragons are revered as symbols of wisdom and strength.

Infinity Symbol

The meaning here is pretty clear: we want to be remembered—to leave a legacy. The infinity symbol, sometimes called the lemniscate, represents our complex relationship with time and mortality.

All the Birds

Birds, feathers, and other symbols of flight are frequently used in tattoo design.


Cute, safe, and small, a heart can be the jumping off point for more ink or a funny story to laugh about with your friends.


The lotus flower is a popular choice, symbolizing purity and divinity.

Hamsa Hand

The hamsa hand is a Middle Eastern protective symbol meant to evoke the hand of God.


Themes of transformation, rebirth, and beauty make the butterfly a nice option for a tattoo design. Vibrant colours and whimsical details add to its appeal.

Music Notes

Tattoo designs that use musical notes and symbols are an extension of our innate connection to music. It moves us, transports us, and helps us communicate when words just aren’t enough.


The four-leaf clover is a well-known symbol for luck, so it makes sense that someone would want to stamp it permanently on their skin—to carry it forever as a beacon of universal blessings.


National pride is often manifested in tattoo designs in the form of a flag. We wear our country’s most recognizable symbol as a token of patriotism and belonging.

Native American

Cultural appropriation is a common trend in tattoo art. Celtic, Indian, and Asian cultures all represent on any list of popular tattoos. Native American elements appear in the form of dream catchers, totem poles, and Haida-inspired designs.


Crosses are a strong religious symbol that appears in tattoos. They are wrought with meaning, highly customizable, and instantly recognizable across many cultures.


In the 19th century, an anchor tattoo on a sailor meant he’d crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Water-inspired tattoo designs that incorporate elements like anchors, ship knots, nautical stars, a wave, or a ship’s wheel remain popular today, even among the non-seafaring.


Flames and sparks symbolize a passionate personality and fiery spirit.


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Lifestyle Magazine: 20 Tattoos we've all Seen Again and Again
20 Tattoos we've all Seen Again and Again
Lifestyle Magazine
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