L.A.'s Top Tattoo Artist Predicts 2018's Biggest Trends

The coolest speakeasy in L.A. right now isn't hidden behind a refrigerator door in Venice — it's tucked behind the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. Walk past the pool and around the gate, and you'll find a secluded little space filled with oversized leather couches, vintage maps, and regulars like Zoë Kravitz, Miley Cyrus, and Cara Delevingne. But they're not waiting around for Manhattans or Tiki cocktails. No, The Hideaway is serving up the city's daintiest, trendiest tattoos — all etched by 36-year-old artist Brian Woo, or better known as Doctor Woo to his 1.2 million Instagram followers.

The man doesn't take walk-ins, but if you're lucky, you might get an email response from him — which would land you in his chair anywhere from six months to a year from now. Until then, we'll be stalking his Instagram trying to settle on a design if that day ever comes.

So what's inspiring the world's most in-demand tattoo artist right now? We dropped by his studio to find out his 2018 tattoo trend predictions, his secret to caring for fresh ink, and the one design he hopes goes away soon. He's granting full access, ahead.

Trend: Saturn & The Cosmos

"I have done a lot of Saturns this year," Woo says. "I think people are into the cosmos right now because it's an unexplained thing. It's a symbol that anything's possible. We're in a time where social media is everywhere and information is so readily available that we know everything about everyone, so it's kind of nice to think that there is still something we don't know."
Trend: Pet Faces

"Feathers were huge a few years ago," Woo says. "I think someone nicknamed me Dr. Feather because all I did was feathers, It was like, 'Ugh!'" Next was the palm tree, a trend that's still popular, but the current trend du jour is a little more unexpected: "Pet faces," Woo reports. "Mini pet faces, like mini portraits of the client's dog, have been really big." (It's popular with his celeb clients, too: He even gave one to client Miley Cyrus.)
Trend: Small & Geometric Designs

"I go through different processes with the ink — sometimes I use darker ink to see if it stays, sometimes I go back to using lighter ink — it's emotional for me, all about how I feel. But one thing [that's consistent] is that I have been doing a lot of smaller pieces this year. It's been all about these little, thin, geometric things that people want."
Trend: Dainty Jewelry

Woo is getting more and more requests for "permanent" jewelry etched onto the fingers and wrists. But it's crucial to care for them properly.

Woo tells his clients to cleanse the skin using a gentle, fragrance-free soap (like Dove or Dr. Bronner's) and then hydrate with a fragrance-free lotion, like Lubriderm (Woo is an ambassador for the brand). "Make sure it's all super basic and fragrance-free — you don't want anything exfoliating or vanilla scented," he says. Besides that, just keep your hands off, stay out of the sun, and let it heal.
Trend: Constellations

Also fitting into the cosmos trend is constellations, both random and ones that hold meaning, like your astrological sign. "Constellations are a big part of my work right now," he says, noting that he'll often group them around a mole so your birthmark becomes a star in the pattern.
Trend: Ribs

Regardless of design, the ribs seem to be the most popular location for women at the moment. "It's coming back to the ribs a lot — a lot more girls are doing stuff on the ribs right now," he says.
Trend: Hands & Fingers

"The fingers were really popular [for a while], but I find myself doing less now," he says, noting that it's slowed down, but not tapered off. "Kids are braver now — getting more things on their hands because it's less taboo."
Trend: Script

One thing that will never go out of fashion is thin script — but the placement changes. The ribs, hands, fingers, and arm is most popular — but the growing trend is even more hidden. "The inside of the lip," Woo reports. "People get that a lot. Words or letters, initials, or symbols — things that are easy."
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