Just as a sentence can be said in many different ways, the same tattoo idea can be depicted through different art styles—and knowing exactly which styles you like can help your tattoo artist bring your vision to life as accurately as possible! If you’ve already dreamt up some tattoo ideas for yourself, take a deeper dive into some of the most popular types of tattoo styles to help inspire you at your next appointment.
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Also known as old school or classic Americana, traditional style tattoos are known for their bold outlines, bright color choices, and minimal shading, which make them a particularly distinct art style. With traditional tattoos, you’re likely to see specific designs such as anchors, skulls, sparrows, and even figures of women.
The art style of a neo-traditional tattoo is often compared to those done in the traditional style. These two types of tattoos have many similar features such as well-defined line work and a rich color palette, however, neo-traditional tattoos tend to have a more illustrative quality about them and usually cover a broader range of motifs.
Bright and comic-like, the new school tattoo style is famous for its experimental look and dramatic, cartoonish vibe. New school tattoos take inspiration from the basics of old school tattoos but incorporate modern design aspects and reflect artistic themes that were popular during the 70s and 80s.
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Realism tattoos almost act like an optical illusion in the sense that they resemble a photograph rather than a drawn-on design. Tattoos that fall under this category are typically very detailed, causing them to appear hyperrealistic. Portraiture, realistic renditions of animals, as well as true-to-life scenery are all common designs.
Painting a canvas using watercolor paints produces a beautiful and eye-catching effect—but did you know that the same can be done on your skin via tattooing? Watercolor tattoos closely resemble watercolor paintings, which feature dispersed splashes of color and forgo the use of sharp lines.
Tribal tattoos are actually the oldest art style of tattooing, and they’ve been in use since the earliest beginnings of time. Today’s modern tribal tattoos reflect indigenous artwork or display markings that are tied to cultural significance as symbols of status or motifs that denote taking part in a ritual.
If color tattoos aren’t your cup of tea, you may want to consider getting a blackwork tattoo. Simply put, a blackwork tattoo is any tattoo that is created solely using black ink. Blackwork tattoos are extremely versatile, from simple designs to intricate patterns, the sky’s the limit when it comes to what your artist can create using just black!
An illustrative tattoo is rather easy to spot—basically if it looks like it belongs hanging on your wall, it’s likely classified as an illustrative tattoo. Illustrative tattoos mix aspects of both realism and traditionalism, creating a final product that gives off the feel of a hand-drawn illustration in the form of wearable body art.
The Japanese style of tattooing, also known as irezumi, is a unique style of artwork whose origins hail from Japan. Japanese style tattoos most often feature distinctive symbolism and oftentimes feature motifs like ocean waves, dragons, koi fish, tigers, samurai, geishas, and cherry blossoms.
Set on an art style for your next piece? Book an appointment with a tattoo artist near you on Booksy!