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Tattoo Styles Decoded: Discover the Best Style for Your Next Tattoo

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

"From Classic to Modern, A Comprehensive Guide to the Most Popular Tattoo Styles"


Tattoos have been around for thousands of years, and they have come a long way since their humble beginnings. From simple designs to intricate masterpieces, tattoos have evolved into an art form that is both beautiful and meaningful.


As a high school kid, I developed a fascination with tattoos. I would often draw tattoos on my classmates using markers, and I loved watching shows like Bad Ink and LA Ink to learn more about the art form. The more I learned, the more my interest in tattooing grew. I discovered that the word "TATTOO" is an umbrella term that covers a vast variety of styles and genres.


If you are someone who is looking to get their first tattoo or someone who is just starting to learn this art form and pursue it as a career, it can be overwhelming to choose a tattoo style.


In this blog, I will take you on a journey through the most popular styles and genres of tattoos that have emerged over the years.


 

TRIBAL TATTOO STYLE :


Tribal Tattoos are a unique and ancient tattoo style that has been around for thousands of years. They draw inspiration from indigenous communities who used their traditional symbols as a way to engrave the passing of rituals, to mark social status, to signal group belonging, wartime achievement, and for spiritual and ceremonial reasons.

This style is also known as indigenous body art, and it represents some of the oldest tattoo styles in the world.

Tribal tattoos are often characterised by their use of thick, black lines and bold, elaborate patterns.


Some of the best Tribal tattoo style artists are:


 


CHICANO TATTOO STYLE :



Chicano style tattoo is a unique style of tattooing that originated in the mid-1900s by Mexican and Mexican-American artists in the Southwest United States and Southern California.

Here are some key features of Chicano style tattoo:

  • Chicano-style tattoo is characterised by black and grey ink and an expert application of smooth shading intricate designs and symbols, which have deep cultural significance.

  • The style is distinguished from all others by its peculiarities, including images of beautiful girls whose faces are stylised as skulls, decorated with national patterns, and religious themes.

  • Religion is one of the main themes of this style, with images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary predominating in the drawings, but in black shades.

  • Chicano tattoos often feature religious, political, and historical imagery, as well as familia themes as reflective of Chicano culture of having strong family bonds.

  • Chicano tattoos are also infamous for gang symbols and lettering made famous in LA by Chicano street culture.

Many tattoo artists working within the Chicano tattoo style are themselves part of the Chicano community, and they help to preserve and spread this essential part of tattoo culture. Each artist may work within the confines of stylistic iconography while lending to it a more personalised touch.


Some of the most famous Chicano tattoo artists include :

Mr. Cartoon, Chuco Moreno, Freddy Negrete, Chuey Quintanar, and Tamara Santibañez,

 

JAPANESE TATTOO STYLE :



Japanese tattoos are a unique style of tattooing that originated in Japan and have gained popularity all over the world. Here are some key features of Japanese tattoos:

  • The symbols and motifs used in Japanese tattoos are inspired by Japanese mythology, folklore, and art.

  • Common themes include protection, bravery, good luck, and spiritual beliefs.

  • Traditional Japanese tattoos are meant to tell a story and convey deeper themes, so they are usually very large and cover a significant portion of the body, such as sleeves, full-back tattoos, and bodysuits.

  • The imagery used in Japanese tattoos is distinct, featuring a blend of cultural significance and detailed line work.

  • Japanese tattoos often come in a mix of black-and-grey and colours, although there are a variety of Japanese tattoos that come completely in black-and-gray.

  • The subject matter of Japanese tattoos is rooted in Japanese culture, and the most popular motifs featured in Japanese tattoos are Koi fish tattoos, geishas, dragons, samurai tattoos, and tiger tattoos.

  • Traditional Japanese tattooing is referred to as Wabori, and it is a manual process that involves using a bamboo or steel needle to insert ink into the skin.

  • Japanese tattoos are popular as they are often seen as a symbol of strength and courage, and their designs are intricate and unique.

Overall, Japanese tattoos are a significant part of Japanese culture and feature distinct imagery and symbolism that convey deeper themes and cultural significance.

Some of the most famous Chicano tattoo artists include :


 

SURREALISTIC TATTOO STYLE :



Surrealistic style of tattooing is a unique and artistic tattoo style that's inspired by the surrealist art movement. Surrealistic tattoos are a unique and artistic tattoo style that's perfect for those who appreciate the fantastical and absurd. This style is perfect for those who want to create a sense of fantasy and hyper-reality in their tattoos.

Here are some features of this style:

  • This style is characterised by optical illusions, a combination of the incongruous, hidden meaning in the details.

  • Surrealistic style tattoos often blend elements of realism tattoos and transform the subject playing with distorted figures and shapes, illogical juxtaposition, distortion of reality and dream-like symbolism to create a sense of fantasy and hyper-reality with paradoxical abstract imagery.

  • Surrealistic tattoos are perfect for the art form because they can morph and adapt over time, meaning tattoo aficionado's may expand the meaning of their surrealist tattoos as more life is experienced and envisioned.


Some of the most famous surrealistic tattoo artists include :


 


FINE-LINE TATTOO STYLE :



Fine line tattoo involves using small needles, often a single needle, to create thin, delicate, and intricate designs. Fine line tattoos are a popular trend in tattooing because of their subtle, delicate, elegant and sophisticate appearance.

Here are some key features of fine line tattoos:

  • Fine line tattooing uses small needles, often a single needle, to create a thin, subtle, delicate, and intricate tattoo design that are small is size.

  • They can be used to create minimalist designs and even micro realism photo like tattoos with vast variety of design themes/elements including flowers, animals, abstract patterns and portraits.

  • They can be both monochromatic or colourful.

  • Fine line tattoos require a skilled artist who can create intricate designs with precision.

Some of the most famous fine line & micro realism tattoo artists include :


 


WATERCOLOR TATTOO STYLE :



Watercolour style tattoos are a relatively new style of tattooing that has gained popularity in recent years. They require a skilled artist who can blend colours and create a seamless transition between them. Watercolour tattoos can be completely made of colour, with only a little black and white for shading, which gives them a more organic and fluid look.

Here are some key features of watercolour style tattoos:

  • Watercolour tattoos are inspired by watercolour paintings, and they often feature bright, vivid colours that blend seamlessly into one another.

  • Watercolour tattoos can be completely made of colour, with only a little black and white for shading.

  • Watercolour tattoos are unique and have a very different look than a traditional tattoo and can come in a variety of designs, including images of nature, portraits etc.

Some of the most famous watercolour tattoo artists include :


 

GEOMETRIC / MANDALA TATTOO STYLE :



These two tattoo styles that have gained popularity geometric and mandala are both visually stunning and deeply personal for people who love intricate patterns with precision.

Here are some key features of each style:


Geometric Style Tattoos:

  • Geometric tattoos are characterised by clean lines, intricate patterns, and a focus on symmetry using simple shapes such as triangles, circles, and squares, arranged in complex patterns.

  • Geometric tattoos can be customised to suit anyone's style and preferences, from minimalist shapes to more complex and intricate patterns.

  • Shading is an important aspect of geometric tattoos, as it helps to create depth and dimension in the design.

  • Geometric tattoos can be done in black and grey or in colour.

Mandala Style Tattoos:

  • Mandala tattoos are circular designs that often feature intricate patterns and symbols inspired by the ancient Sanskrit term for "circle" and represent the cosmos and the idea of unity among all things.

  • Mandala tattoos are often used in meditation and can symbolise the universe or the self.

  • They are visually stunning and spiritually powerful, making them a popular choice for those seeking balance and harmony in their lives.

Some of the most famous geometric & mandala style tattoo artists include :


 

BIOMECHANICAL TATTOO STYLE :




Bio-mechanical tattoos are a unique, fascinating style of tattooing that combines elements of machinery and artificial technology with the natural world.

Here are some key features of bio-mechanical tattoos:

  • Bio-mechanical tattoos are designed to look like they are part of the body, as if the skin has been peeled back to reveal the machinery underneath.

  • They are heavily influenced by science fiction and realism, and they often incorporate elements of the natural world with more supernatural ones.

  • Bio-mechanical tattoos can be done in black and grey or in colour, and they are extremely versatile, looking great inked everywhere from the head and shoulders to the legs and feet.

  • Bio-organic tattoos incorporate elements of only the “natural” earth, which can include human beings, the bones of animals, and other creatures, whereas bio mechanical tattoos will have a similar design but will infuse it with machinery and artificial technology.

  • Bio-mechanical tattoos are designed to add multiple dimensions and look dark and mesmerising.

  • They are often customised to fit seamlessly with the anatomy of the individual's body, making them a truly one-of-a-kind tattoo design.


Some of the most famous bio-mechanical style tattoo artists include :


 


OLD / NEW SCHOOL TATTOO STYLE :




Old school and new school tattoos are two popular styles of tattooing that have distinct characteristics. Old school tattoos are classic and timeless, while new school tattoos are bold and unique.

Here are some key features of each style:


Old School Tattoos:

  • Old school tattoos are also known as traditional tattoos, classic tattoo style, or American traditional tattoos often done in black ink with limited use of bright colours.

  • They are characterised by bold lines, limited colour palettes, and traditional imagery such as daggers, roses, skulls, hearts, nautical motifs, and women.

  • They are deeply rooted in the history of tattooing and are associated with seafaring and sailors.

  • Old school tattoos often use thick, bold lines and are meant to be simple and easy to read.

  • They are a popular choice for those who want a classic and timeless tattoo design.

New School Tattoos:

  • New school tattoos are a more recent style of tattooing that emerged in the 1970s and gained popularity in the 1980s and 1990s.

  • They are characterised by exaggerated proportions, bright colours, and cartoonish imagery often blend different styles, including elements of graffiti, cartoons, and caricatures.

  • They are highly animated and feature intensely vivid tones, eye-catching characters, and rounded shapes.


Some of the most famous old and new school style tattoo artists include :


 


REALISM / REALISTIC/ PHOREALISM / MICRO REALISM TATTOO STYLE :



Realism tattoos are a style of tattooing that aims to create a lifelike depiction of almost anything, from animals and people to nature scenes. Making them a popular choice for those who want a tattoo that looks like a photograph or a real-life 3D object.

Here are some key features of realism tattoos:

  • Realism tattoos are characterised by their realistic portrayal of objects, animals, and people, with an exquisite level of detail.

  • They can be done in black and grey or in colour, and they often feature natural landscapes, scenery, and portraits of people done to almost a photographic likeness.

  • Realism tattoos are made with much of the same techniques that other realism artists use, such as mapping of shadows, highlights, and contrasts.

  • Realism tattoos can be further divided into two sub-styles: hyperrealism and photorealism.

  • Hyperrealism tattoos are extremely detailed, often incorporating multiple colours and shading to create a realistic effect.

  • Photorealism tattoos are inspired by the realism art movement from France in the 1850s and take an extreme eye for detail and patience to perform such intricate layering of fine lines.


Some of the most famous realism style tattoo artists include :


 

In conclusion, tattoos have come a long way from their traditional roots and have evolved into a popular form of self-expression and body art. With the constant mixing of styles, new innovations in equipment and inks, and artists’ visual creativity, new styles have emerged on the horizons of the tattoo world. From realistic styles to neotraditional designs, blackwork tattoos to colorful geometric tattoos, there are many different styles to choose from. This blog aimed to provide an insider perspective on the most prominent tattoo styles out there today, giving you a clear head on which style of tattoo you want to get on your body. Whether you prefer bold and dramatic designs or something more subtle and understated, there's sure to be a tattoo trend that's perfect for you.


 

Don't let the overwhelming choices hold you back

from getting the tattoo of your dreams.



We understand that choosing the perfect tattoo design can be a daunting task.

That's why we're here to help!

Whether you're having trouble deciding on a design for yourself or if you have your own design and want us to bring it to life, our versatile artists at Toronto Tattoo Studio Frozen Ink And Art have got your back for all your tattoo needs.


Book a free consultation with us today and let our experienced artists guide you through the process. During the consultation, we can help you:

  • Explore different tattoo styles and their significance

  • Discuss design options and customization

  • Visualize your design on paper before getting inked

  • Answer any questions or concerns you may have


Click the button below to schedule your consultation now!




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