Generational Tattoos: Millennial Tattoo Trends and the “Gen Z Tattoo”

Between 2012 and 2019, the percentage of Americans with at least one tattoo jumped from 21% to 30%. As tattoos become more and more common, we’re starting to see trends in what people get tattooed based on the generation they belong to.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Which generations get tattooed the most
  • Which tattoos are “on trend” for each generation
  • How to use this information as you develop your own tattoo style as an artist

Here’s a look at how different generations are looking at tattoos: 

Gen Z | Matching Tattoos + Micro Tattoos

Multiple micro tattoos on a hand and fingers

Generation Z (1997-2012), is on its way to becoming the most-tattooed generation as they get older. As of 2021, 23% of Gen Z had tattoos, with 19% having more than one. (Considering the fact that Generation Z is comprised of young people and many of them aren’t 18 yet, we’re expecting this percentage to skyrocket in the next few years.)

Today’s Young People are Getting Micro Tattoos

One of the biggest trends in tattoo design for Gen Z is micro tattoos. These tiny tattoos, which are usually smaller than a quarter, are subtle and easy to hide. Some of the most common tiny tattoos seen with Gen Z are hearts, stars, butterflies, animals, or small symbols related to their life.

The “Gen Z” Matching Tattoo

TikTok and other internet trends have a big influence on Gen Z, which is where a lot of their tattoo ideas come from, and the matching tattoo is very popular with this generation. 

Recently, a trend went viral on TikTok of Gen Zers getting a micro tattoo of the letter Z. The trend is called the “Gen Z tattoo,” and it was started as not only a symbol of their generation, but also a symbol of rebellion. 

Unfortunately, the creator of the trend did not realize that the design of the Z, which has a line through it, is very similar to a symbol used by European neo-nazis. The creator of the Gen Z tattoo has asked Gen Zers interested in the tattoo to change the design, so don’t be surprised if you see a bunch of different styles of Z tattoos popping up.

Millennials | Big, Bold Tattoo Designs

Colorful tattoo sleeve of an owl

Millennials (1981-1996) are currently the most tattooed generation. In 2021, 12% of millennials reported having one tattoo, and 29% said they have multiple. This generation opts for more visible pieces, as tattoos have gained more acceptance among their parents and employers.   

Neo-traditional and new school tattoos are very popular with millennials, who love big, intricate tattoos with pops of color. Watercolor tattoos, music, animals, cartoons, and other designs influenced by nostalgia for their youth are also really popular with millennials.  

Because they are able to connect with a broader world through the internet and social media like Facebook, many millennials have a higher standard for their tattoos than previous generations of young people. Having access to the tattoos of thousands of artists at their fingertips has raised the quality of a “good tattoo idea.”

Gen X | Lower Back + Ankle Tattoos

Butterfly tattoo on the lower back

Though tattoos are most popular with young people, older generations are still getting their bodies inked. Gen X was born between 1965 and 1980, and 32% report having at least one tattoo. 

When tattoos really started to become popular in the 90s, Gen Xers were the ones getting them. Some of the most common tattoo designs you’ll see with this generation are butterflies, lower back tattoos, and ankle tattoos. 

Boomers | American Traditional + Easily Hidden Placements

Older man with several tattoos

Baby Boomers, or just “Boomers,” were born between 1946 and 1964. Even though they’re an older population, 13% of them still report having at least one tattoo. Boomers tend to be more conservative with their tattoos, so you’ll see a lot of traditional-style tattoos that are easy to cover up for work.

Prepare for a Tattooing Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

Understanding tattoo trends is an important step in your journey, but it can also be pretty eye-opening to how difficult tattooing can be. Without the right knowledge, it’s impossible to level up your skills and become a professional tattoo artist. 

However, finding the straightforward information you need to progress is difficult. And with so much out there online, it’s hard to avoid picking up bad habits from incorrect and outdated resources.

This is one of the biggest struggles new tattooers face, and too many talented artists have given up their goal of getting into tattooing because of the years it would take to unlearn their bad habits. 

That’s why aspiring artists are learning to tattoo with the Artist Accelerator Program’s structured course. As a student, you learn every step of the tattooing process from professional artists with the experience and advice you need to build your skills and create incredible tattoos. 

With the Artist Accelerator, you can stop wasting time searching through incorrect information. You just get the clear, easy-to-understand lessons you need to start improving fast… along with support and personalized feedback from professional artists in our online Mastermind group.

Over 2500 students have already gone through the course, with many of them opening up their own studios. If you want to join them and learn the skills you need to tattooing full time faster…

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
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  • Private mastermind community
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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