11 Types Of Tattoos That Should Never Be Covered Up — And 1 That Should Be

Getting a tattoo can be one of the most personal (and permanent) choices you can make.

Getting a tattoo can be one of the most personal (and permanent) choices you can make — so luckily, there are a lot of talented tattoo artists out there, as well as a ton of tattoo inspiration. 


And even if you don't get it right the first time, the best tattoo artists can also redeem bad (or just offensive) tattoo designs. In the categories listed here, check out the highs and lows of this inky body art.

1. Minimalist Tattoos

When NYC tattoo artist Jon Boy isn't tattooing Kendall Jenner, he's adorning customers with elegant city skylines, though Berlin-based artist Mo Ganji creates even more intricate tattoos with just a single line. Meanwhile, hand-poked tattoos have also won over Hollywood celebs with their centuries-old simplicity, and this meaningful semicolon tattoo is a movement now with famous supporters such as Selena Gomez.

2. Geometric Tattoos

Lewis Ink, a tattoo artist who recently moved from Sweden to France, specializes in eye-popping tattoos that look like optical illusions. And it's incredible to connect the dots on Argentinian artist Luciano Del Fabro's pointillism tattoos.

3. Photorealistic Tattoos

Art imitates life … nearly perfectly! Steve Butcher, a tattoo artist in New Zealand, recently made waves online for photorealistic tattoos that look just like the source material. Meanwhile, a tattooist in nearby Australia named Chris Rigoni blends photorealistic imagery with abstract forms; and Crimean artist Pis Saro's flower tattoos look like they've just been plucked from a garden.

4. Travel Tattoos

Planes, trains, and automobiles? You'll find them all in these travel-themed tattoos … and those tattoo ideas will probably give you an overwhelming case of wanderlust.

5. Literary Tattoos

Some people eschew graphics altogether and stick to the written word, as you can see in these poetic tattoos. (Our favorite? This tattoo lettering: "She wasn't looking for a knight / She was looking for a sword.") Or, for you aspiring Hogwarts students out there, check out these Harry Potter tattoos.

6. Best Friend Tattoos

Forget matching lockets — now BFFs are showing their commitment to one another with friend tattoos. Of course, there's a whole other category for friend tattoos shared between siblings.

7. Family Tattoos

Some parents put their devotion to their kids in ink! In terms of tattoos for men, one dad updated his wife's tattoo to reflect his son coming out as transgender, another tattooed himself with his son's doodles, another got a cochlear implant tattoo to make his daughter feel better, and another got a scar tattoo to do the same for his son. Meanwhile, our hearts melt whenever we see these mother-daughter tattoos. While we're talking about tattoos for girls and tattoos for women, let's note how some pairs of mothers and daughters actually picked out tattoos for each other. And speaking of total trust … 

8. Surprise Tattoos

Yes, some brave souls took up tattoo artist Scott Campbell on his offer for a free tattoo in exchange for their blind faith. In fact, they couldn't even see their tattoos until the ink was dry, so to speak.

9. Survival Tattoos

Tattoos can also immortalize a person's perseverance through major medical crises. One woman, for example, covered her double mastectomy scars with a Wonder-ous tattoo, and she's not alone. Another woman sparked an affirming online conversation with a tattoo commemorating her miscarriage

10. Fresh Start Tattoos

Some tattoo artists are covering up hateful tattoos and covering scars from self-harm with tattoos free of charge — and one man shared the sweet story behind his decision to cover up his swastika tattoos. Elsewhere, a woman covered her emotional scars, adapting a tattoo related to an abusive ex to give herself a new lease on life. And even though it's not tattoo removal per se, one photographer is digitally removing gang tattoos to change hearts and minds.

11. Meaningful Tattoos

Those aren't the only tattoos with serious significance, however. Check out the tattoos helping people through mental health struggles, or the tattoos uniting sexual assault survivors in solidarity, or the ones promoting self-love. Also, one woman's double-sided tattoo spotlights the hidden struggles of depression.

Tattoo Fails

Some artists are less tattooist and more miracle workers — like the good Samaritans who saved bad tattoos by covering up names of exes, gussying up bad drawings, and fixing spelling errors. (See? Nothing is forever!)


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