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Variation Ideas for 10 Popular Tattoos


This variation of a pet paw print tattoo is a fantastic example of Leah's watercolor skills.
Art by Leah Pinkerton

A variation of a popular tattoo might just be what you need to call it your own. They say, variety is the spice of life. That holds true to tattoos as well. Nobody should want to get the exact same thing tattooed on them as thousands already have. That would make it boring.

Let’s be honest, there are certainly tattoos out there that are deemed ‘overdone’. There are designs tattooed so often, that some artists out there flat out refuse to even do any more of them. Not at Lucky Bamboo Tattoo, but there are artists out there that have this sentiment towards certain tattoos.

Perhaps with a little help, we at Lucky Bamboo Tattoo might be able to stir those creative juices in you and help you come up with a unique variation idea for a commonly tattooed piece!


There’s a million of these tattooed, quite literally more than that. That’s not to say a butterfly tattoo isn’t great and that someone shouldn’t get one. The best approach, however, is to find a good variation on the butterfly tattoo concept.

Art by Leah Pinkerton
  • A variation of color could be just enough of a change.
  • One or both wings being something different, such as clockwork, flowers, drifting smoke, etc.
  • Instead of getting a typical realistic or illustrative butterfly, flip the style on it’s head and go with something unexpected.


Art by Leah Pinkerton

This one is nearly as common as a butterfly. Again, it’s not a bad thing, it’s just that a lot of people have it. There are certainly a bunch of ways to get a variation of the design.

  • Instead of fine black lines, make it barbed wire.
  • Use a script style font to make a quote into the design.
  • In the empty space in the loops, put in an image, maybe even of space itself.


A rose tattoo can be absolutely gorgeous, and that can be done in a huge variety of ways. A classic realistic rose tattoo, although fairly common, can still be a stunner (see the rose tattoo by Jared Preslar, as example below). With that said, there are a bunch of ways you can put a different spin on it.

Rose by Jared Preslar
  • A “burning rose” tattoo is still not too common and they look amazing.
  • Stylization to something different, such as working it into something whimsical would be fun.
  • Include words or symbols on each petal.


It’s another one of those things out there that a ton of people have, and far too many of them look exactly the same. Fortunately, many tattoo artists have already been coming up with some rather clever and eye catching designs to bring a little variation into this well loved image. If you aren’t familiar, it’s a triangle with a circle in the middle and a line doing down the center. The most common place people get them is on the inside of the wrist.

  • Location. Like just mentioned, the most common place is on the inside of the wrist. Get yours somewhere else.
  • Like other ideas, change the style to something else. Imagine a dark art version of this design. It would look awesome! Or, mix the design with another fantasy world design, for example, have the circle in the center of the triangle the Eye of Sauron.
  • Everyone gets the quote “Always” along with that symbol, if they get a quote. Go for another key Harry Potter quote to make yours different. Understandably, the “Always” quote is iconic and emotional, but there are others.


It’s not feathers, per se, but more so feathers that are morphing into birds/anything blowing away. It’s done a lot. Sure, they often do look really cool, but in reality, it’s not creative.

  • Instead of the feather morphing into birds, a variation would be to make it bats.
  • Where the feather starts to break down up top, turn it into smoke/mist and have the smoke/mist spell out a word.
  • Have the feather start out as something different and ending up a feather, basically the opposite of what is commonly done.


Obviously not nearly as popular as it was in the 90’s, but there are still a lot of clients out there that love this style. The problem is, a large percentage of tattoo artists are burned out on it. It’s also in the top 10 regretted tattoo category. We see a good amount of people that get cover-ups for their 90’s tribal pieces. If you still insist on getting this style, try and come up with a variation.

  • Take a look at neotribal cyber sigilism. It’s a newer trend, has way more creative possibilities, and frankly, it looks badass.
  • Don’t go for black, get it in colors.
  • Change the subject matter. 90’s tribal bunny, anyone?


This fad has been going strong for years, and nobody knows exactly why. It’s not like there’s suddenly a bunch of Romans running about. Still, we’re not here to judge. If you want Roman numerals, you go for it, just make it a little different. They’re most commonly done tiny/small with fine line. Very basic.

  • Instead of small fine line, go bold. Make it look like it’s etched in marble with a 3D effect.
  • Have the letters appear to be actually carved into the skin, maybe with some faux blood drips flowing down.
  • Go big! 1-2 inch high lettering. Maybe even go bigger.


Quite a few people have Asian characters (lettering) tattooed on them. There’s nothing wrong with getting one of these tattooed, but doing a variation may make it better and stand out more. The most important thing you want to consider is doing your own research on the character you want to make sure it says what you want it to say. If you happen to get a less than professional tattoo artist that’s sick of doing Asian lettering, he may just put the character for “Idiot” on you, and you wouldn’t even know. That would be HIS variation, but now what’s good for his client.

  • Make the lettering look like the way the character would look as if it was painted, with brush strokes.
  • Blend some color in, may a color fade or just the edging.
  • Add a background, maybe something iconic like cherry blossoms.


People sure do like to declare what sign they are. Sure, it’s fun to read your horoscope to see if any of it’s actually relevant to your life. An astrological sign tattoo is very common, and that’s fine. Change it up with a variation to make yours different.

  • Instead of the actual symbol, get what the symbol represents. Get a crab, or centaur, or scorpion.
  • Get a blend of your traditional and Chinese astrological signs/symbols.
  • Get a Greek, Roman or Norse “god” image that represents over the house of your sign/symbol.


These can look quite cool when done correctly, but unfortunately, a lot of people have this. A new variation of this idea could really stand out from the crowd.

  • Make the skull somehow recognizable of a known person.
  • Instead of a typical bone skull and normal snake, make it a cyber/robotic skull with a metallic snake.
  • Go “cute”. Have a fun, whimsical skull with a very happy looking cartoon snake coming out.

When it comes to a tattoo design, your only obstacle is a lack of imagination. Don’t be afraid to do something completely different and just have a good time thinking up something unique, just for you! Our artists at Lucky Bamboo Tattoo would be more than happy to brainstorm with you in a consultation to help you create your own variation. If that sounds like a good thing to you, you can contact us by pressing the button below, or call the studio directly!


If you’re ready to get your next tattoo done, schedule an appointment with an award-winning tattoo parlor. Here at Lucky Bamboo Tattoo, we have some of the best and most experienced tattoo artists in the Salt Lake City area. We can tattoo any style you’d like, and our artists can even design your next piece as well.

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