Tattoos are not only examples of beautiful artwork, but also can offer significant meaning to the person who will wear them from the rest of their lives. In addition to showcasing gorgeous designs or intriguing patterns, tattoos can commemorate someone important or keep the wearer inspired about the future. No matter what message is intended by a tattoo, the tattoo styles used in the design can help tell that artistic story. This artistic storytelling medium has existed for millennia and across numerous civilizations, so it’s not surprising that there are a variety of tattoo styles that have developed and gained popularity. In this blog, we’ll discuss 7 popular tattoo styles, where they came from, and how they can be effective for telling different stories.
While classic realism has been part of fine art since the Renaissance, classic realism tattoos have only become popular since the 1950s, and they’ve developed a lot since then. Realism tattoos can depict anything, with the only requirement being that the tattoo looks as close to photorealistic as possible. Portraits of famous people, loved ones, nature, and meaningful objects are all common choices for realistic tattoos. If you’re looking to celebrate an important person, object, or event in your life, this can be a great tattoo style to consider. Make sure that your tattoo artist has experience in this style and check out their portfolio to see how realistic their work can be!
Traditional tattoos, with their bold outlines and bright primary colors, can trace their roots back to sailors in the 1700s. Traditional tattoos have evolved since then as inks and tattoo machines have improved over the years. Designs like hearts, anchors, roses, flags, and birds are popular examples of traditional tattoos. Bold, black outlines are the basis of traditional tattoos with simple bold primary colors incorporated into the interior of the designs. While this tattoo style reached its peak popularity in the mid 20th century, it’s still a fundamental and popular style.
Neo-traditional tattoos are similar to traditional tattoos but tend to have more complex color palettes and more variation in line weight. The subject matter for this style is also more varied and there are beautiful examples of neo-traditional animals, people, and plantlife.
Watercolor tattoos are a style that’s becoming increasingly popular. This creative and challenging style uses a lighter, layered application of tattoo ink to create a brushed-on, watercolor appearance. This style mimics the appearance of watercolor paintings and it’s great at incorporating gorgeous colors into your tattoo. If you’re looking for something that’s beautiful but not overwhelming, a watercolor tattoo might be the perfect tattoo style for you. Keep in mind that this style may not wear as well as other styles with age as it tends not to have the black outlines that keep a design legible over time and some color inks fade. That said, it’s easy to get tattoos touched up, which is the perfect way to keep your watercolor tattoo looking breathtaking.
Geometric tattoos, or sacred geometry tattoos, are complex, challenging tattoos that have gained popularity in recent years. These tattoos use intricate patterns, shapes, and designs that have foundations in famous geometric images or in mathematical patterns. Metatron’s cube, the flower of life, the nautilus shell, and other designs are popular examples of this tattoo style. These designs can be breathtaking if they’re properly executed, but make sure that your tattoo artist is up to the challenge!
Script tattoos simply refer to any kind of tattoo that’s primarily made up of text. Any language can be used for these tattoos, although it’s important to know what you’re saying and how it’s spelled. We’ve all seen those disastrous tattoos where a word is misspelled, so make sure that you and your tattoo artist are 100% certain of how your tattoo should be written out. Even after you’ve decided on what’s being written, the font, style, placement, size, and other factors should be discussed with your tattoo artist to make sure you have the perfect tattoo. There’s enormous creativity in these tattoos, making it a tattoo style that’s easy to start but takes a lifetime to master!
If you run across a tattoo design with sharp, precise lines and intricate, flowing patterns that’s done in black ink, you’re probably looking at a tribal tattoo. Tribal tattoos, as the name leads you to believe, developed out of the designs created by native populations and have been adopted by cultures across the globe. This style primarily borrowed from Maori, Samoan, and Polynesian tattoo styles before becoming the incredibly familiar style that exists today. While this style had its heyday in the 80s and 90s, it’s still a staple of tattooing.
Tattoos that evoke the style, traditions, and artwork of classic Japanese artwork and kanji are usually grouped together as ‘Japanese tattoos.’ The history of tattoos in Japan dates back hundreds, if not thousands of years, and it’s as popular as ever today. Traditional Japanese woodblock prints, creatures from Japanese folklore, and written characters are typical subjects of modern Japanese style tattoos. These tattoos can be done entirely in black ink or can have colors mixed in as required by the design. The intricacy of the designs and complexity of the written characters often requires a particularly skilled tattoo artist, so make sure your artist has experience in this tattoo style before they put a needle to your skin.
These various tattoo styles are exciting and beautiful, but familiarity with these various styles can do more than just help you pick out your next tattoo! A career as a professional tattoo artist can be both lucrative and creatively fulfilling! If you have a passion for art and a willingness to learn, check out our tattoo apprenticeship and we’ll help you to achieve the career of your dreams! Our artists have made some spectacular tattoos in each of these tattoo styles, and we can help you to do the same! Check out our gallery of tattoos and maybe the next one we feature will be a tattoo that you create!