When it comes to selecting the right style for a brand new tattoo, it is important to know how to talk the talk before just walking into a shop and requesting something flash off the wall. That’s why we thought it would be helpful to give you our insider perspective on the most prominent tattoo styles in the industry today. After reading this “Tattoo Techniques & Styles” Blog, you’ll be able to tell a traditional piece from a Japanese one at a glance, distinguish between neo-traditional tattoos and new school tattoos without breaking a sweat, and see the differences in blackwork and tribal tattoo designs without batting an eye.
1. Traditional Tattoo
Traditional tattoo styles are best known for its bright colors, heavy lines and popular designs like roses, anchors, and beautiful ladies heads. Some of the most well known traditional style of tattooing throughout history are Sailor Jerry, Don Ed Hardy, Bert Grimm, and Lyle Tuttle, this style of tattooing is one of the most well-known in the tattoo industry. They’re looked fantastic from the start, age really well, and are filled with the history of tattooing. Traditional tattoos are as popular as they have ever been.
2. Realism Tattoos
The world of tattoos recently has exploded with photograph quality realism. Possibly one of the most popular styles currently and some artist are really leading the way and redefining what it takes to be an expert Realism tattoo artist. Right now, you can see mind blowing color and black and grey portraits of pretty much anyone and everyone you can think of as well as life like images of the natural world and just about anything else you can think of.
3. Watercolor Tattoos
The watercolor style is currently in very popular. It’s in demand by recent generation of tattoo lovers, who appear to be looking for something new and quite different to match the change in current times. It ‘does what it says on the tin’, as if applied to the skin with a paint brush and water colours. Don’t be fooled at how simple these pieces can look. While it’s easy to create this style when working with actual watercolors and a brush, doing it with ink on skin is no easy task. Artists make all sorts of beautiful and stunning pieces using this different approach to tattooing.
4. Tribal Tattoos
Tribal tattoos — i.e. indigenous body art — The oldest style of tattooing in the world, dating back thousands of years. This style should be viewed as many different styles combines due to the numerous tribes across the globe that have adorned the body for 1000’s of years. These diverse styles are commonly referred to under the broad term “tribal,” but to the trained eye, Polynesian body art is distinctive from South American. Though these styles are all unique in their own way, they are very similar, almost always done in black with elaborate patterns.
5. Sak Yants Tattoos
Sak Yants the Thai name for the Tattooing of Sacred geometrical designs on the skin. Yant (or Yantra, as they are call them in the west), are normally tattooed by Buddhist monks, or Brahmin Holy men . The Yant tattoos have developed over the centuries under the influence of several different religious philosophies. The Yantra designs that already existed in Hindu India were adapted by the Thais as Buddhism arrived from neighboring India
6. Neo Traditional Tattoos
As the name suggests, it’s an evolution of the traditional tattoo style. It features the main properties of its predecessor, like heavy line work and vibrant colors but it also has a illustrative quality to it. Neo-traditional tattoo artists are influenced by Art Nouveau and Art Deco time periods. Tattoos done in this style are known for their lush, decorative details as well as the use of nature such as florals and animals.
7. Japanese Tattoos
Japanese style tattoos, aka Irezumi, originated during the Edo period (1603-1868) alongside ukiyo-e. Woodblock prints that were massively popular among the merchant class at the time. The icons found in this time-tested Theme of tattoo style comes from the country’s age-old folklore, featuring tattooed heroes and mythological creatures like dragons. Every tattoo done in this style tells a tale about Japans rich heritage. This is what makes Japanese style masterpieces so powerful.
8. Blackwork Tattoos
Blackwork tattoo is a very broad term. It relates to almost any body art that’s created using only black ink. A lot can be done with this versatile and striking color. If you should take a look through blackwork tattoo artists portfolios, you’ll see everything from ancient sacred geometry to modern art designs to extremely detailed pieces. It is by far and away the style in which most of the experimentation is being done in the industry. Some of the work being produced today is absolutely jaw dropping.
9. Illustrative Tattoos
A huge amount of different of work can be called Illustrative, and that is because there are so many different tattoo techniques that inspired it! From abstract expressionism, to fine line calligraphy and even etching and engraving, this tattoo style is extremely versatile. tattoo artists who work in this style will blend their own styles within it to create a whole new stand alone style. As long as their tattoos look like they could belong on a piece of paper or a canvas hanging up in gallery, you know it’s Illustrative!
10. Chicano Style Tattoos
Chicano style tattoo has so much cultural influence that it has gone on to influence other styles as well. Steeped in the history of things such as the Gangland, L.A. low-riders and Pachuco culture. Born behind bars, the style has grew from tattoo artists in prison who used what they had at hand to capture what they longed for on the outside. Usually black and grey, fine line and wrapped up in the Chicano culture, this genre of tattooing is wonderfully captivating.
We hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about each of these tattoo styles. They are by no means all of the ones currently circulating throughout the contemporary tattoo scene, but they are some of the most prominent tattoo styles.