Fabian Herrera at his station inside Faultline Tattoo. Photo by Melissa Melton.
Fabian Herrera at his station inside Faultline Tattoo. Photo by Melissa Melton.

Just like with fashion and hairstyles, tattoo trends have evolved over thousands of years, with a rich history going back to ancient Egypt. Today, artists across the world have made tattooing their profession.

Matt Gomez, owner of Only the Honorable Tattoo in downtown Hollister, has been tattooing professionally for about 21 years. It has been so central to his life that he remembers people more by their tattoos than their faces. As a tattoo artist, he said, every day is different.

“I’ll have months where I’m doing a bunch of lions in different styles, then I’ll go months doing lots of stopwatches with kids’ birthdays,” Gomez said. “It’s a little bit of everything.”

However, Gomez noted that throughout 2019, he has done many roses, particularly in black and gray. Although he still often tattoos clients in the traditional, colorful “Sailor Jerry” style, he has had increasing requests for black and gray work.

Another common request is Roman numerals representing an important date, such as the client’s wedding or a child’s birthday.

Fabian Herrera, co-owner of Faultline Tattoo, also in downtown Hollister, similarly mentioned Roman numerals and dates as timeless designs that express familial ties.

Memorial tattoos, Herrera said, are also popular. He said he has noticed more clients asking for tattoos with religious imagery this year. Clients also ask him for tattoos of quotes, poems and other phrases which are meaningful to them.

“I find people are getting tattooed more for the meaning behind it versus they like the design,” he said.

Today, people also get tattooed in more visible places, such as the neck, hands, and fingers, Herrera said, and attributes that partly to the fact that tattoos have become more acceptable, but also because of celebrities who have adopted these trends.

With young people in particular, Herrera has noticed more rash decisions being made about tattooing, especially on their faces. This can be especially problematic, he said, since these people are probably about to enter their first jobs, and employers may not be accepting of tattoos which will always be exposed.

“Think about what you’re going to put on yourself before you do it,” Herrera said. “Based on musicians, they make a lot of decisions as far as getting tattoos on the face and neck.”

Another trend both Gomez and Herrera have noticed is groups of people asking for matching tattoos. Gomez said he even has a group of women who come into his shop once a year to get tattooed together as a tradition. Once, for instance, they all got the same cross design tattooed on their bodies. Group tattoos not only carry the meaning of the specific image, they also represent camaraderie within the group.

Trends aside, Gomez and Herrera agreed that creativity in tattooing has been revolutionized with the rise of social media. Both artists said that the vast majority of their clients come in with a design already in mind—often something they saw online—and they just need an artist to refine it or personalize it for them.

“Back in the day you would see more trends, but now with the internet, you see more custom stuff,” Gomez said. “I like it that way though, so I have a better idea of what style they like. There are so many different areas like fine lines, photorealism, black and gray. It makes everyone’s lives easier.”

No matter the style or size of the tattoo, Gomez and Herrera recommend to all clients that they do their research before the appointment, and to follow all aftercare instructions to ensure proper healing.