Rib Tattoos Are the New Tramp Stamps, And More Body Art Trends

@justinbieber/Instagram; @zayn/Instagram
Justin Bieber and Zayn Malik

Plus, the face might just be the last "edgy" space for a tattoo.

Like everything in the world of fashion and beauty, tattoos trends come and go (RIP, tramp stamps) — with celebs often playing a critical role in creating those trends.

In the past two months, two of pop’s biggest superstars, Zayn Malik and Justin Bieber, unveiled face tattoos, begging the question — are face tattoos the next big thing? After all, as Heather Bailey, an award-winning tattoo artist based in San Francisco puts it, celebrities are still some of the biggest influencers. 

“For the average non-tattoo collector (meaning someone who isn't heavily tattooed, doesn't take an active interest in tattoo art or travel to get specific tattoos from artists who specialize in whatever style the collector is interested in) it's more about trends and celebrity tattoos,” she said. “For example, when Lindsay Lohan got ‘breathe’ tattooed in white on her wrist, there were a lot of people wanting that tattoo. Rhianna gets her fingers tattooed and suddenly that is the hot spot.”

Placement, is, of course, a highly personal decision, but as tattoos become more mainstream, the body part of choice says almost as much as the imagery itself. Tramp stamps of early 2000s yore, for example, were definitely a linked to a more provocative look. Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on how you look at it — the lower back tattoo has slowly faded (that is, unless you have one permanently inked.) Its replacement? The ribs. Says Bailey, "The new lower back is the ribs/side and has been for a few years now." 

Luke Wessman, an artist and guest judge on Spike TV's Inkmaster, notes that its perhaps the lower back's unfortunate nickname that led to its demise. "The term 'tramp stamp' ruined a perfectly good spot and has given thousands of woman shame. I say, shame on that name."

As tattoos become ever trendier and less taboo — with mainstream models including Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin getting inked on their fingers and wrists — "edgier" celebs have still found ways to incite some drama with their body art.

According Wessman, the only location that still has any kind of shock value just might be the face — perhaps a reason that “bad boys” (as well as Sinead O'Connor) choose the highly visible space. “The face tattoo is the last of the edgy and aggressive tattoos, its still a place that is not for the faint of heart, or at least those who fear their mothers!” he says.

However, Wessman notes that in his professional opinion, shock value isn’t necessarily a good enough reason to take the plunge. “I will say any good and reputable artist still will not tattoo a person’s neck, face, or hands unless the person is heavily tattooed all over their bodies,” he adds.

Kanye West's tattoo artist, Maxime Buchi, notes that while the decision of where to get inked can reveal a lot about the person and the image they wish to project, at the end of the day "the motif itself is still what says the most about a person."

Rapid fire: Tattoo artists Wessman and Buchi summarize the meaning of tattoo placements in one word.

The Face
Wessman: Edgy
Buchi: A lifestyle

The Neck
Wessman: Wait
Buchi: An achievement

Wessman: Committed
Buchi: Classic

Wessman: Ouch
Buchi: Strong

Wessman: Cute
Buchi: Delicate

Lower Back
Wessman: Classic
Buchi: Flashback

Wessman: Cool
Buchi: A mistake