Many true tattoo aficionados hate to get or give a cliché tattoo in their parlor. Overly simplistic or cliché tattoos are also among the most common tattoos that tattoo owners later seek to have removed. In the US, 23% of individuals who got a tattoo said that they regret their decision. Heed our advice and avoid painful destruction or laser tattoo removal by reading through this list of tattoos you should likely avoid. Our list will range from simple and sometimes forgettable tattoos like skulls, to ones that tend to backfire like tattoos of a loved one’s name.

If it’s unforgettable, you don’t need to have it inked

A tattoo of a partner in a relationship can feel like a sound decision, and many people want to argue with the artist that they’re different, but the truth is this; no tattoo has ever kept a couple together, and there are much wiser ways to express your adoration. A tattoo of their face is often intricate, expensive, and a sore reminder if the relationship goes south.

When asked about the worst tattoo he ever did, tattoo artist Ryan Sean Kelly told VICE about a client of his who wanted the name “Vanessa” across his chest.

“About midway through I asked if Vanessa was his girlfriend or his mum, to which he replied it was his ex’s name and he was getting it inked to woo her back,” said Kelly. “If I had known I wouldn’t have started, and, suffice to say, when I saw the guy about six months later he was still depressingly single.”

The classic cases of subversion and trying too hard

The two most common tattoo themes are roses and intellectual quotes. Many people approach their first tattoo with apprehension due to the various stigmas around it. As a result, many first-time customers go to extremes. Those who want their tattoo to seem sophisticated and artistic tend to order flower designs or famous quotes, while other customers who want to show how serious they are about tattoos often request Grim Reaper or skull designs.

That’s not to say getting any of these designs are bad, only that they’re especially common. As tattoo artist JR Tubbs notes, cliche tattoos right now are “pretty much anything you’re printing off of Pinterest and bringing in to your artist.” He goes on to recommend tattoos that have classic or timeless designs. Tubbs added that one should pick something that wouldn’t go out of style in five or ten years. For inspiration, the artist said to look for tattoo “designs that our grandfathers and great grandfathers wore.”

Intricate images in very small tattoos

People often walk into tattoo parlors with the intention of getting a landmark tattoo, not realizing how much work that can be. When they realize how long a large tattoo can take, they ask if they can shrink it down. Many people feel a sense of hesitation once they’re in the parlor, and get small tattoos on their fingers, or other small or obscure areas. Tattoos on small areas of the body are common, but they’re also much more difficult to get right. And since most people think making it smaller means it’ll cost less money, these cliché tattoos can be frustrating for multiple reasons.

One artist under the screen name Darthinksmith_87 offered this as an example:

“Infinity symbols that have names that are hidden within a feather, then the feather turns into birds, then the birds turn into dandelion seeds… All of that the size of a quarter in white ink on the bottom of your foot and you best make sure it’s done like a watercolor tattoo.”

Think it through

There are endless tattoo designs, but many newcomers to the tattoo industry tend to ask for things that have been done thousands of times over. Roses and quotes are extremely common among those who believe themselves to be elevating their tattoos to some intellectual level. Skulls and Grim Reapers are just as common in fanatical tattoo enthusiasts. Names, landmarks, the faces of loved ones, and easily obscured tattoos are all common, and their owners often find themselves riddled with regret.

Our advice? When you decide on a tattoo, sit on it for a few weeks. If you still want it as much as you did when you first thought it up, go for it. Choose something that will hold significance regardless of circumstances and above all, be original!


1. The Top Countries For Tattoo Removal Procedures [Infographic], Forbes,

2. Tattoo Artists Tell Us About the Worst Tattoos Everyone Wants, VICE,

3. From roses to skulls, these are the most popular tattoos of 2017 so far… according to social media, The Sun,

4. The Most Cliche Tattoos, According to Tattoo Artists, Independent,