Traditional tattoo designs
There are probably thousands of different tattoo types out there now, and talented artists are constantly inventing new ones. However, all of those designs are based on common tattoo patterns from the past, many of which are decades or even centuries old.
Here are twelve of the most well-known tattoo types, which you should be familiar with before embarking on a career in tattoo design. If you’re looking for the ideal tattoo theme, you may not be able to put your finger on exactly what you want, but you’ll almost certainly have one of these in mind. It’s difficult to know exactly what you want your dream tattoo to look like, but the styles below can help you narrow it down. Click here for more info about tattoo art.
Americana in its purest form
This may be the first tattoos that come to mind, an old-school design with bright outlines and contrasting colours and imagery. They’re also associated with the sea and nautical imagery, pinup female characters, fierce predatory animals, or heart, rose, and dagger combinations. Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins popularised the tattoo style in the 1930s, and it’s still popular today—as seen here by Frankie Caraccioli of Kings Avenue Tattoo.
A new school has opened.
Tattoos from the New School are like having a mad comic book on your body. Jesse Smith’s work is well-known in this genre, with vibrant colour depictions of fantastic imaginary worlds full of chaos and often chariactured creatures.
Japanese are a unique people.
As we mentioned in a previous article, tattooing has a long and illustrious history all over the world. The Japanese style Irezumi is one that has remained popular. Traditional and modern interpretations of these iconic masterpieces are still being created by tattoo artists. It’s a genre known for big photographs that cover the back, arms, and legs in particular.
Chris O’Donnell of New York demonstrates the style’s typical animal, floral, and samurai imagery. Jessica Mascitti of LA’s East Side Tattoo gives us some fantastic examples of various types of work in a genre that spans a wide variety of styles. Black and grey images aren’t constrained by subject matter, allowing them to represent anything and anything realistically in shades of grey, which were initially created by diluting black ink to produce a variety of shades. For more info click here.
Shane O’Neill’s portraiture, a subset of the realism genre (which is exactly what it sounds like—realistic renderings of imagery), demonstrates how realistic tattoos can be. Artists are able to achieve eerily realistic renditions of people in both colour and black and grey without the black outlines of some of the more classic models. Slowerblack demonstrates the versatility of the stick-n-poke technique, in which the artist creates basic designs using a single needle. In the hands of a professional, this painting, which is characterised by thick and bold lines most often in plain black with small decorative patterns, can reach beautiful heights.
Scenery, artefacts, animals, and people can all be depicted in realistic tattoos. This is a classic tattoo style that is ideal if you want to portray something very specific, whether it’s in colour or black and white. Realistic tattoos are difficult to get just right, and it takes a professional tattoo artist or tattoo designer to produce a piece of art that is both realistic and visually stunning. Blackwork is a tattoo style made up of thick and bold black lines in a variety of geometric forms that originated from tribal tattoos. Artists, including Nazareno Tubaro (who also produced the featured image!) continue to push the boundaries of this genre, combining patterns and images from a variety of sources into mesmerising pieces swirling in various forms around the body.
Biomechanical tattoos are usually freehand and adapt to the particular flow of a person’s body, emulating machinery that may be concealed under the skin. When it comes to these bad boys, it’s difficult to avoid Roman Abrego’s name—his alien and mechanical-inspired photographs frequently covering his clients’ arms and legs. Geometric tattoos are very common right now, and when done correctly, they can be very timeless. They can be entirely made up of geometric elements or a mix of geometric and organic (often floral or natural) elements. The contrast between the tattoo style’s exact, sharp lines and the body’s curves makes them stand out in a big way.