INDEX

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ABSTRACT

Do you lean more to the creative/artistic side? Consider going with an abstract tattoo style. While abstract designs are fun to look at, their best feature can be found with their hidden meaning. Let’s face it, a human portrait with four eyes, geometric cubes, colorful lines and two paint drops, doesn’t exactly send a crystal clear meaning or message. However, it most certainly does to the beholder of the design. If you want a piece of ink that’s truly unique or perhaps a design that has a hidden meaning, abstract tattoo styles make for an excellent choice. [source]

AMERICAN TRADITIONAL

Classic images from America’s past are at the forefront in American traditional tattoos. From the tales of crossing the sea to reach America, to stories of gunslingers from the Wild West, American traditional tattoos feature images inspired by American history. Often accentuated with modern features, these tattoos show a reverence for the past while staying rooted in the present. [source]

ANATOMICAL

From muscles to bones to hearts, and beyond, if you love human body parts, anatomical tattoo styles might just be for you. Anatomical tattoos are as realistic to human anatomy as it gets, though you don’t have to be a doctor or dentist to appreciate them. In fact, a lot of people get anatomical tattoos to remember broken bones from athletic injuries, mountain biking, car accidents and beyond. They can hold a whole host of meanings. Even an anatomical pair of lungs can server as a symbol of being a lung cancer survivor. [source]

BAROQUE

Baroque tattoos are known as the symbol of Renaissance culture. This style reflects the luxurious advances that humankind has made. A specific feature of this style is that they look like rich, intricately designed ornaments and can be combined with different shapes. [source]

BIOCHEMICAL

A style of tattooing also referred to as “biomech” in which a tattooist designs a piece (usually freehand) based on the client’s body flow in order to recreate a robotic or cyborg-like aesthetic to the client’s skin. [source]

BLACK AND GREY

A style of tattooing that consists of using only black ink and water. The black ink is watered down in order to create softer shades of grey for shading and highlighting. Nowadays, it is also common to see tattoo artists use black ink and pre-made grey washes when working in black and grey. [source]

BLACKWORK / BLACKOUT

Traditional tribal tattoos aren’t your style? Then consider post-modern patterns found in blackwork and blackout designs. While it is one form of tattoo style, blackwork tattoos combine elements from other styles including geometric, line, negative space, dotwork, and beyond. In reality, a blackwork tattoo can be as unique as you want to make it. Even traditional tribal ink can be enhanced by surrounding it with solid black ink for a more bolder and modern look. [source]

BLAST OVER

Have a fading colorful tattoo? Throw a bird, skull or any other design you want over it in black ink and you’ve just discovered the blast over style. Let’s face it, tattoos are forever but your perception of the world is always changing. If you’ve got a wonky piece of ink from the past but want to hold onto it due to a significant meaning, a blast over tattoo is the perfect solution. Sure, the old design won’t be one-hundred percent visible but it will still poke on through. While technically a cover-up tattoo style, the true invention of blast over ink comes from those who have too much body art but simply want ink. When space is short, blast over tattoos are a great way to add another layer of artwork over an already full canvas of skin. [source]

BROKEN GLASS

While not super popular outside of the gangster and pocket watch realm, the broken glass trend is catching on. This type of 3D effect can be placed over virtually any design you want, adding more visual interest to your body art. [source]

CELTIC

Cool knots and complex curves are what you’ll find when it comes to Celtic tattoo styles. While you can’t travel back to the Iron Age to tour badges of honor found on warriors from Celtic tribal societies, you can, however, do something else. For inspiration just seek out The Irish Book of Kells and you’ll find plenty of interwoven and interlocking knotwork. In terms of popularity, the Celtic cross is by far one of the most popular designs, while bears, dragons, owls, and wolves are commonly used as well.

CHICANO

Perhaps one of my favorite types of tattoo styles, Chicano body art is truly breathtaking. If you’ve ever seen this style applied to designs with statues of Greek gods then you’ll know just how captivating it is to look at. Known for their cornucopia of Hispanic themes, Chicano tattoos feature everything from the Day of the Dead sugar skulls to The Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ and beyond. Of course, you’ll also find everything from guns and gangsters to money roses and clocks, all themed with the iconic Chicano style in today’s day and age.

CUBISM

Cubism tattoos are perfect for the unconventional person who sees themselves as a trailblazing maverick with sophisticated tastes. Tattoos in the cubist style are bold and colorful, deconstructing images in the style of famous modernist painters like Picasso and Braque. [source]

DESTRUTTURATO

While not as well-known as other styles out there, the “Mambo” as I like to call it or “Destrutturato”, is an entirely new style that’s gaining in popularity. The simple black ink design features colorful backgrounds that resemble the bright and flat colors often found in Japanese tattoos. It’s different, unique and comes straight out of Milano, Italy thanks to a gentleman named Mattia Mambo. [source]

DOTWORK

A style of tattooing consisting entirely of dots in order to create various designs and images. Mandalas, sacred geometry and stipple portraits are common forms of dotwork. [source]

EXPRESSIONISM

“I was looking at a lot of Hans Hofmann, thinking about the squares and rectangular shapes in his paintings. I wondered if these shapes were dictated by his rectangular canvas? And if he were going to make an abstract painting that wasn’t on a rectangle, but perhaps on an organic form like an arm, what would the shapes look like? That’s when I had the idea to try it with a tattoo. So much tattoo imagery has been repeated over and over again, I was interested in trying to find ways to evolve it. To play with color theory and see if shapes and forms could actually communicate something more than say a panther. I feel like people should have more options for something that is supposed to be so unique and personal.” -Amanda Wachob

GEOMETRIC

Based on the most basic of shapes, geometric tattoos are anything but! Squares, circles, triangles, and polygons come together in abstract images, mandalas, or low-poly models. There is no limit to the possibilities. These designs are ideal for those who want to show a love of beauty while recognizing the set rules of nature which surround us. [source]

GLITCH

Glitch tattoos remind us to question our reality. Like an old VHS tape with tracking issues, glitch tattoos are flawed or glitched in some way. Zigzagging or offset lines obscure parts of the image and suggest that, despite our outward appearances, we are all flawed in our own ways. [source]

GLOW IN THE DARK / UV INK

Take your tattoo to new levels with glow in the dark ink. Ultraviolet (UV) ink absorbs light during the day and glows when darkness falls. Use it to highlight your existing ink or to add artwork that is only visible at night. A reminder that all is not what it seems, and that our daytime self often changes when the lights go out. [source]

GRADIENT

A gentle flow from one color to the next, gradient tattoos do away with hard lines in favor of a natural flow. Light to dark, blue to red, day to night; where does one end and the other begin? Rarely is the answer simple. Adding a gradient to your tattoo as the background, or as the primary color scheme, adds a degree of softness not easily achieved with solid borders. [source]

GRAFFITI

Lover of graffiti art? Showcase your own tags with a graffiti tattoo. Use your body as a graffiti artist would use a wall and express yourself without the fear of your work being painted over. From personal tags to full murals, you’re only limited by your imagination, and not by how much spray paint you can carry. [source]

HORROR

A style of tattooing that consists mainly of dark imagery. This style can be prominent in either black and grey or color, but typically features fabricated creatures or characters taken from famous horror films. [source]

ILLUSTRATIVE

A style of tattooing that combines aspects of American Traditional and realism typically using bold outlines and realistic shading to depict illustration-like designs. [source]

INVERTED

Flip from the positive to the negative with an inverted tattoo. Taking the traditional black on a white tattoo, and changing it up to white on black, an inverted design is the reverse of the standard image. Reminiscent of a film negative, with an image of whites, grays, and blues on a black background, you have this style of tattoo. [source]

LETTERING / SCRIPT

Get your message across with a tattoo showcasing custom lettering. Use a favorite font, or create your own! Combine your lettered design with any other style to create a tattoo that is uniquely yours. Block, script, or gothic, if it can be written, it can be transferred to your skin. [source]

LINEWORK

Get back to basics with a simple line tattoo. Sometimes simple is better. A line drawing is made using a simple line. While shading or coloring can be added for effect, the premise remains the same. Sometimes the simple messages are the most important, and elaborate is not always “better”. [source]

MINIMALISM

Simple. Short and sweet. Understated. A minimalist tattoo is all of these. Minimalist tattoos forego the elaborate designs of other styles in exchange for a simple word or small image. Often symbolic to the wearer, the meaning is not always clear to onlookers. This is a great way to express yourself without drawing too much attention. [source]

NATIVE AMERICAN PATTERN

In the southwestern part of the United States, the native cultures who historically inhabited those lands made brilliant patterns on pottery, baskets, blankets and rugs. Many fans of tattoo styles like Neo-Tribal, Sacred Geometry and Blackwork have begun to find their way out west to these cultures whose brilliant patterns are as inspiring today as when they were originally designed hundreds of years ago. Unfortunately, as a style of tattoo, there are not many examples yet. But the patterns, the intricate and diverse patterns go on for days.

NEGATIVE SPACE

Easy to confuse with an inverted tattoo, a negative space piece draws your attention to what is not there. Instead of drawing a tree, a negative tattoo artist will draw the space between the branches and let the tree come together from there. This is a subtle technique, but can have a powerful affect on the finished piece. [source]

NEW SCHOOL

Take old-school images and mash them up with graffiti stylization, and you are left with new school tattoo work. The finished product of this technique is similar to the neo-traditional style, with bright, colorful images and heavy, black borders, but there are subtle differences. Image content tends to have a more modern flair with an older feel to it. [source]

NEO-TRADITIONAL

Classic American themes are the focus of neo traditional tattoos. Native American images, art deco, and cartoons are common themes in this style, often accented by thick, strong borders and bright, lively colors. This is great way to honor the imagery of times past while adding a modern touch. [source]

NEO-TRIBAL

These creations represent a zenith of artistry for the entire industry of body modification. Intensely rich layers of geometry can be seamlessly melded together in an unprecedented fashion. [source]

NORSE

Big. Bold. Strong. These describe not only Vikings but also Norse themed tattoos. The Vikings were tough. Nobody is going to argue with that. Norse tattoos are based on ancient Viking designs and provide a sense of strength, power, and control. Intricate designs are frequently presented in full sleeves or torso tattoos, serving as a testament to the artist’s devotion to the craft. [source]

OPTICAL ILLUSION

People will have to look twice at an optical illusion tattoo to fully appreciate it’s complexity. Tattoo artists can create illusions so realistic that one might think there actually IS a hole in your hand. Is your arm really carved out of wood? These tattoos make people stop and think about what they are seeing. [source]

ORNAMENTAL

A style of tattooing that is based on decorative design, geometric shapes, body flow and color scheme more so than an actual subject. [source]

OUTLINE

Simple and understated, an outline tattoo is a great entry into body art. Having an outline of your tattoo image is the perfect way to see how it looks before committing to hours of filling and coloring. Don’t let the simplicity fool you, though. A simple outline can make just as strong a statement as a full color image. [source]

PAINT BRUSH STROKE

The paintbrush stroke tattoo style offers a serious level of uniqueness. Unlike a traditional tattoo, this style can be nearly impossible to replicate thanks to its different variations in watercolor and gradient design. Most commonly, you’ll find the paintbrush stroke style being used for things like the Enso symbol or OM symbol. More modern artists are pushing the limits of this style by doing more than just symbols and instead opting for designs like rose flowers, sailing ships and beyond. [source]

PIXEL

While video game graphics continue to improve, love for the 8-bit images of the past grows. Pixel art tattoos remind us of our first adventures in video gaming. They are also reminiscent of cross-stitch patterns and perler bead designs. Whether it is a classic Mario image, or a newer character given a pixel treatment, these tattoos make us nostalgic for the simpler times. [source]

POINTILLISM

Pointillism tattoos take dotwork art to the next level of detail. While dotwork tattoos take a great deal of skill to create, pointillism pieces take much more. Areas of highly dense points give the appearance of solid blocks of color and allow for unmatched levels of shading and blending. Generally done in all black, color can be added for a different effect. [source]

POP ART

Made famous by Andy Warhol, pop art can be used to create striking tattoos as well. While fine art encompasses the more traditional art seen in museums, pop art features subject from pop culture. Pop art tattoos frequently feature comic book images or musical icons, but any subject matter that is derived from popular culture is a good choice. [source]

PORTRAIT

Memorialize your loved ones or your idols with a portrait tattoo! Frequently done in a hyper realistic style, a portrait tattoo is the perfect way to pay tribute to someone. Whether it is a pop icon, historical hero, or a passed love one, keep them with you with a tattoo of their portrait. [source]

PRIMITIVISM

Primitivism is the belief in authentic human nature liberated from societal expectations and affectations. The characteristics of primitivism, the celebration of an earlier stage of human development, which is un-corrupted, vigorous, genuine expression of life. [source]

REALISM

Is that a tattoo, or is it a photo? With hyper realistic tattoos, it can be difficult to tell. This style requires an expertly skilled artist and a lot of time, but the results are breathtaking. Often leaving us questioning our perceptions, a hyper realistic tattoo has the depth, shading, and flow of reality. Expect lots of looks, and some touching, with this style. [source]

SACRED GEOMETRY

Take a look around, you’ll discover sacred geometry in more than just churches, temples and monuments. It’s everywhere – from pine cones to diamonds, snowflakes and more. It is after all, the synchronicity of the universe with mathematical constants; not to mention the blueprint of nature. [source]

SILHOUETTE

The beauty in this style is in the simplicity. While color can be added for some striking results, most silhouette tattoos are done in all black. These work well on any part of the body, and can range from a small icon to full torso coverage. [source]

SKETCH

Take a piece of an artist’s sketchbook with you in the form of a sketch tattoo. While an image with full color and details is stunning, a sketch tattoo has a charm that is hard to match. A work in progress, an idea, a quick render; these are thoughts that come to mind when we see a sketch. Room to grow, but beautiful as it is. [source]

SPLATTER

Splatter painting, the technique made famous by Jackson Pollock, is energetic, unpredictable and a whole lot of fun. It's also a lot harder than it looks. [source]

SURREALISM

Too realistic to be abstract, yet too ambiguous and inconsistent to make a single coherent impression, surrealism tattoos are a hodgepodge of parts that make up one fantastical creation. [source]

TA MOKO

This is the term commonly used for traditional Maori tattoos or body markings in which chisels and pigments are used to bring about these uniquely designed patterns. Ta moko are still prominent to the Maori culture today. [source]

TORN / RIPPED SKIN

A specific type of optical illusion, a torn skin tattoo features flesh ripping away to reveal what is underneath. This technique takes time to achieve, but leaves a remarkable finished image. What do you have lurking under your skin? Bones, gears, pistons? For best effect, these tattoos are done on larger areas, such as the chest or upper arms. [source]

TRADITIONAL JAPANESE (IREZUMI)

This is a style of tattooing popularized in Japan most prominently by the Yakuza, the criminal underworld. This style typically features bold outlines, minimal shading and imagery that includes mythical beasts, koi fish, flowers and Japanese folklore characters. [source]

TRASH POLKA

Combining realism and trash, trash polka tattoos offer a unique, bold style choice. Originated in Germany, trash polka takes traditional art and collages it with “trash” or smudges, smears, and words, to create a one of a kind style. True trash polka is done in all black and red, although variations can be made to change the final effect. [source]

TRIBAL (MODERN)

One of the more popular styles, tribal tattoos pay homage to our ancestors. A tribal tattoo features bold designs, based on the artwork of tribal civilizations. Many cultures can be represented, but frequently designs are based on Maori, Indonesian, or Hawaiian motifs. These tattoos look great in any location, from a small cuff to a full body cover. [source]

WATERCOLOR

Watercolor art has a distinct softness to it that other mediums struggle to replicate. Watercolor tattoos offer the same feeling. Careful blending of colors and use of varying intensities leads to a tattoo that looks like it was painted right on to your skin. This technique works especially well as a background for more a more solid, well defined image, but easily stands on it’s own. [source]

WHITE INK

For a very subtle effect, a white ink tattoo may be what you’re looking for. Depending on the natural color of your skin, white ink can be almost invisible. You know it’s there, and it can be seen if it’s being looked for, but often it goes undetected. It can also be combined with inks of other colors for some truly amazing results. [source]

WOOD CARVING

A specific type of illusion, a woodcarving tattoo looks as if your body is made of solid wood, into which a design has been carved. This look is achieved through careful use of shading and highlighting. Take the time to find the right artists, and this can look very realistic. This technique works especially well on the arms and legs. [source]