11 of the most common types of tattoos, according to an artist

Tiny and heart tattoos are popular.

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Tiny and heart tattoos are popular.
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Shutterstock

Some people prefer out-of-the-ordinary tattoos, going out of their way to get next-level ink. But of course, since so many people get tattoos, there are bound to be some common favorite. If you’re getting a heart, flower, or nature tattoo, there’s a good chance you’ll be in good company.

In her five years working professionally, Kelly Kapowski, a tattoo artist at Ascension in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has seen thousands of tattoo requests. Kapowski notices people most commonly get tattooed on the wrist, the ankle, and the ribs beneath the breast. But the designs she sees most often tend to share themes like nature, memories, and love.

INSIDER asked her to share some of the most common types of tattoo requests she gets. Of course the actual tattoos will vary, still it’s interesting to see some common themes.


Landscapes and nature tatoos are popular.

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People often want trees.
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John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Many people come in with tattoo designs inspired by the landscape that surrounds them.

“In North Carolina, everyone adores the trees and the mountains and the scenery, so I do a lot of mountains and trees that are common in North Carolina,” Kapowski said. “Wave tattoos are also a popular choice.”


Insects also make the list.

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Actress Queen Latifah’s butterfly tattoo is part of a common theme.
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Dan MacMedan/WireImage/Getty Images

A variety of insects are common in the tattoo world. “I do a lot of bees and butterflies and moths and lightning bugs,” said Kapowski.


School spirit tattoos are also common, especially in university towns.

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Michigan superfan, Jay Rhadigan, Windsor, Ontario, shows off a few of his 33 Michigan-themed tattoos.
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Lon Horwedel/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Located in a college town, Kapowski sees both students, alumni, and locals come into the shop looking for school spirit tattoos.

“Most of them would get their frat or sorority logos and symbols,” she said. “We also get a lot of school pride tattoos.”


Flowers are classic.

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These have been common for some time.
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Shutterstock

Kapowski finds that many women are often interested in getting simplistic flower designs. “Girls will come in wanting something very delicate, so they get simple lines of a flower under [their] ribs.”


Matching tattoos are surprisingly common.

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Polyamorous ‘thruple’ Chris Brandt, Matt Brandt and Cait Earnest showing their matching tattoos on their forearms.
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Carlos Chiossone / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Groups of people often come into the shop looking for matching tattoos to symbolize their love for one another.


Pet tattoos are a way to show devotion to a furry friend.

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They can come in portraits or paw prints.
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Shutterstock

People often get tattoos to memorialize their love for their pets. The most common pet memorial tattoo is a paw print resembling that of the customer’s furry best friend.


Infinity symbols have been popular recently.

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They mean “forever.”
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Shutterstock

Infinity symbols meaning “forever” have become an increasingly common tattoo over the years.

Many people getting matching tattoos or tattoos in honor of loved ones and pets also include infinity symbols on their designs.

“We get mothers and daughters coming in and wanting infinity symbols or pet owners wanting the infinity symbol with paw prints,” Kapowski said.


Hearts are common too.

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Actress Carly Hughes, shoe detail, arrives at The Paley Center for Media’s PaleyFest 2016 Fall TV Preview for ABC at The Paley Center for Media on September 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (
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Amanda Edwards/WireImage/Getty Images

One of the most simple but beloved designs, hearts are a universally popular tattoo. They can symbolize love or simply make for cute body art. Kapowski finds that people are often interested in getting hearts inked on their hip or behind their ears.


Inspirational words and quotes can be another popular idea.

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She sees lots of single words.
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Shutterstock

Customers also often want inspirational words and quotes promoting strength and good virtues. The words “faith,” “believe,” and “always” are the phrases Kapowski sees most often.


Tiny tattoos are all the rage.

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Model Chanel Iman, ring detail, manicure detail, clutch detail, attends the 2015 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson Of The Year Ceremony at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers on December 15, 2015 in New York City.
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Taylor Hill / Contributor/Getty Images

Rather than doing large, complex pieces, many people opt for tiny tattoos. Kapowski regularly tattoos “lines and dots and random symbols” on the insides of customer’s fingers.


Moons are a staple.

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A closeup of Ai Miyata’s tattoos, a crescent moon and star behind her ear, and a small star over her pierced earlobe, on August 07, 2016 in Tokyo.
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Onnie A. Koski/Getty Images

Clients often come in seeking crescent moon tattoos, which often hold some important meaning. Crescent moons often symbolize things like life, death, and change.