When you’re thinking about getting a tattoo, it’s essential to understand your options and preferences, including the types of tattoos available. The art of tattooing has not only been around for thousands of years, but it’s expanded significantly in the last few decades as well. New types are being added, new techniques are being developed, and new artists are collaborating. Here are some of the most popular types of tattoos.
Traditional Tattoo Style
With bold colors, well-defined lines, traditional tattoos can be seen on anyone from young adults through seniors. These types of tattoos often include ships, anchors, or roses, and are known to age well. While there’s disagreement over the exact origins of the traditional tattoo style, we see examples of these types of tattoos as far back as the late 1700s.
Realism or Realistic Tattoo Style
Realistic tattoos are exactly what they sound like. Done by the right artist, a realistic tattoo can rival a photograph with its stunning attention to detail. Realism (also called photorealism) often focuses on a celebrity icon, work of art, beloved family member, natural landmark, or even pet. This type of tattoo is generally done in shades of black and gray. Portaitism is a type of realistic tattoo style that focuses specifically on portraits with dark outlines, and sometimes the use of color.
Watercolor Tattoo Style
In the same way that watercolor paints give a soft, feathered look, watercolor tattoos use that style as well. In some ways, they contrast traditional tattoos, specifically for their lack of strong lines and well-defined structure. Many of us started using watercolor paints in elementary school, but a watercolor tattoo is not nearly as easy as our own first paintings. This style is particularly challenging to do well, but it’s an approach that has been fairly popular recently. Something to consider… some tattoo artists warn that these designs, without deep colors or strong lines, fade more easily over time.
Tribal Tattoo Style
As the oldest form of tattooing, tribal tattoos date back thousands of years. While there are many different cultures with their own styles of tribal tattoos, the ones we see most often today are based on the Polynesian culture. The tribal tattoo style is recognizable for its strong block shapes, clean lines, and symmetry. But as with watercolor tattoos, tribal tattoos can be harder to create than you might think. Drawing tribal art on a flat piece of paper can be simple, but when your canvas is a body, there are substantial considerations like making sure the design works in harmony with the muscle and bone structure.
New School Tattoo Style
New school tattoo style has influences as early as the 1970s, but primarily covers styles of the 1980s and 1990s. There’s very little that’s subtle about new school tattoos. They generally use bold colors, thick lines, exaggerated details, and can include fantasy or cartoon characters. Beyond the tattoos themselves, new school tattoo style reflects a shift in attitude of tattoo professionals, with a focus on openness and thinking outside the box.
Neo Traditional Tattoo Style
Neo traditional tattoo style takes some elements of traditional tattoos, like the bold lines and strong colors. However, neo traditional tattoos often use a more broad color palette, and appear luxurious. Often large, these tattoos are particularly well suited for the back, arm, or leg. Because of the intensive detail in neo traditional tattoos, these works of art can take a relatively long time to create.
Japanese Tattoo Style
The word for tattoo in Japanese is irezumi. This word is also used to reflect a particularly popular style of japanese tattoo. In Japanese culture, irezumi are not applied with a tattoo gun, but with metal needles and wooden handles. Aspects of these tattoos are seen in modern tattoo shops today. These tattoos often relate to an important piece of Japan’s history. Common themes include dragons, flowers, and mythical creatures. Some Japanese style tattoos are expansive, covering an arm, leg, or even most of the body.
Blackwork Tattoo Style
Blackwork tattoo style covers a wide range of tattoos, but their common feature is they’re made using only black ink. These tattoos can be large or small, and simple or intricate. Often people ask how blackwork tattoos and tribal tattoos differ. It’s a good question because tribal tattoos are generally a form of blackwork tattoos, while blackwork tattoos cover a more broad range.
Illustrative Tattoo Style
An illustrative tattoo is often looked at like a piece of artwork that could be drawn on a canvas. If you’re thinking that so many tattoos can fit in this category, you’re right. There are many tattoos that can be considered illustrative style. Often, an illustrative tattoo starts with black outlines, in the same way that an artist would start by drawing an outline on canvas or paper.
No matter what type of tattoo you choose, your comfort can be a priority. Our line of Hush products from gel to creams can numb your skin, reduce inflammation, and reduce redness. Whether you’re getting a tattoo on a particularly sensitive part of the body, are planning to sit through hours and hours of tattoo work, or just want to take a step to make your tattoo experience more comfortable, Hush products and the Hush team are here for you. Check out our tattoo numbing products here