Tattoo Styles That Will Hold Up To The Test Of Time

Getting a tattoo is a big decision. Not everyone is into super-sentimental art when it comes to their body art, but nearly every person with a tattoo will agree you want quality. After all, you do have to live with it for the rest of your life (or until your budget allows for laser removal, at the very least). 

For every tattoo style and design out there, there's an artist who feels they've perfected it. There's a lot that goes into picking an artist, however. Before you can decide on who will do your tattoo, you have to decide on an art style. A good art style and a good artist can be the difference between a tattoo that goes the distance and something you might regret

The jury is still out on some of today's emerging tattoo styles, but years of incredible tattoo design have shown us which styles hold up over time.

Some traditional American tattoos are timeless

Whether you call it American, traditional, or old-school, these are probably some of the most familiar tattoos you've seen. Thematically, these tattoos feature a lot of different elements of Americana, from boats and anchors to flags and banners. If you go to a tattoo shop, you might see some of these images lining the walls.

Part of the draw of traditional American style is the simplicity of the art, which makes it easier to get quality work. And the ink saturation keeps these tattoos looking crisp for years and years, Tatt Magazine explains.

There's nothing wrong with sticking with a classic — these images have stood the test of time for a reason. Tatt Magazine notes that two-dimensional elements, rather than elaborate shading, classify tattoos as "traditional." These old-school designs often look more like drawings than 3D works of art, with blocky outlines and clearly defined line work.

Traditional Japanese tattoos have a rich history

Japanese-style tattoos combine certain art elements with themes and imagery that are rooted in Japanese culture. These often-large pieces include symbolic figures such as koi fish, dragons, tigers, and warriors, per Tatt Magazine.

Culturally, Japanese art is historically significant. Traditional Japanese tattooing, also known as Irezumi, can be found dating back hundreds of years. An ancient Chinese chronicle, "Wei Chih," tells of encountering tattooed men, women, and children as far back as the 3rd century (via My Modern Met). These were celebrated art pieces until tattooing began being used as a form of punishment, a practice that would last more than 1,000 years.

As history often tells us, the art persevered over the darkness that clouded it. Today, the bold elements of traditional Japanese tattooing live on, from bold line work and large pieces to incredible color that stands the test of time.

Nature-themed tattoos span art styles and cultures

Elements of nature are popular tattoo themes, and so you see them incorporated in a lot of different tattoo styles. Whether your taste is traditional, minimalist, or psychedelic, there may be some flowers, trees, and other bits of nature found in your tattoo. 

"Trees represent longevity and endurance, as the flora is deeply rooted and constantly working to grow and thrive," Byrdie notes. "They may also be a symbol of strength, as trees tend to stand resolute for dozens — and sometimes hundreds — of years."

Similarly, flower tattoos are beloved by both men and women for their deep meaning, which leaves few with regrets after the fact. "Delicate and colorful, flowers have long been important symbols of natural beauty and life. In fact, they're undoubtedly some of the most prominent tattoo designs in history," Custom Tattoo Design shares. "The meanings behind flower tattoos are as multi-layered as they are variable; in ancient cultures, flowers were a direct symbol of god's contentment. Today, flowers often represent the love between two people."

Animal tattoos make for striking and unforgettable pieces

Animals are another theme that's found across different tattoo styles and trends. For some, animal tattoos are symbolic. There are animals such as lions and tigers that are frequently tattooed because of the way they symbolize strength, for example, per Saved Tattoo. Wolves and phoenix tattoos are often associated with strength and resilience. 

Others take animal tattoos and apply a more personal approach. Many get memorial tattoos to honor an animal that's made a difference in their life. Some even take an extra step and have the ashes of their pet included in the ink used for the tattoo, per Wide Open Pet.

Regardless of which type of animal tattoos you get, it's likely that you won't regret it. With time, these tattoos often look all the more beautiful and classic.