Tattoo styles guide

The Complete Guide on Tattoo Styles

Tattoos are an ever present addition to the fashion world. Industry experts estimate the UK tattoo industry to be worth £80 million a year with over 20 million Brits having at least 1 tattoo. To the wearer, a tattoos has a personal, symbolic, aesthetic, ethnic, cultural or even a spiritual meaning. The tattoo is a statement of their individuality and personality. This is my complete guide on tattoo styles.


Tattoos are one of the single most effective methods to add edge to your look which would be a much needed addition to help attract the opposite sex. From personal experience getting visible tattoos certainly brought about an increase in the level of attention from girls. Getting tattoos also displays to others you are not a sheep who tries to fit in at all costs. Tattoos possess connotations of both confidence and a rebellious attitude. Tattoos demonstrate the ability to not be too scared to do what you want.


tattoo styles guide


The tattoo trend, like many trends past and present arose from its prevalence on celebrities. David Beckham is arguably the main example of the influence of celebrities on tattoo trends. Partially due to Beckham, tattoos have found their way to popular culture and are regarded as rather mainstream these days, common to both men and women, across age groups and backgrounds. Below I will display a guide of the main tattoo styles.


American Traditional


American traditional is the original and oldest form of tattoo styles. This style features Solid black outlines, a limited colour palette, less detail and impeccable precision.This limited colour palette typically included yellow, red, green and black. Purple was eventually added to it as well.


Traditional tattoos imagery typically included eagles, heats, skulls and daggers. Often these tattoos had significance behind them for those in the Armed Forces. For instance, getting a tattoo of an anchor represented ‘stability’.


tattoo styles guide


Japanese Traditional


Inspired by the ancient Japanese tebori (hand carved) tattooing techniques, the traditional Japanese style was popularized in Japan by the Yakuza, the Japanese criminal underworld. Similarly to American traditional, Japanese tattoos make use of a similar colour scheme with the tattoos also based on bold outlines with little to no shading.


These detailed designs are made to a specific standard of rules including elements such as positioning, colours and imagery. The imagery of traditional Japanese tattoos typically includes cherry blossoms, koi fish, lotus flowers, dragons, war dogs and geishas. Japanese Irezumi particularly within full body tattoo suits are one of the most famous tattoo styles, known across the world.


tattoo styles guide




The style of tribal tattooing stems from ancient times with tribal tattoos being the original form of tattooing. Polynesian tattoos  are tribal tattoos derived from the cultural traditions of many Polynesian tribal peoples, like the Maori and the Samoans. These tattoos typically have significant tribal and individual meaning for the tattoo holder.


One the main benefits of tribal tattoos is there ability to look good on most people with the artwork being more ‘artistic’ than other tattoo styles. Tribal tattoo’s can also be highly variable with significant room for both personalisation and customisation. Tribal tattoos are one of the more common tattoo styles with particular prevalence on athletes across various sports.


tattoo styles guide




Realism tattoos look like photos embedded on skin. The artists who specialise in realism tattoos are typically highly talented with significant manual dexterity and eye for detail. These tattoos can look extremely true to life whith the sitting process being longer than other tattoo styles in order to fit in all the detail. Realism tattoo artists specialise in arguably the most skilled and intricate tattoo styles with significant attention to detail necessary.


Realistic tattoos are inspired by the realism art movement which spawned in France in the 1850s. It was a response to the dramatic and emotional styles like romanticism which preceded it. Unlike romantics, the realists weren’t interested in melodramatic poses, or overly emotional imagery.


Tattoo styles guide




The geometry tattoo style is inspired by geometrical shapes and especially the geometric shapes and motifs we meet in nature. The ancient civilizations of Greeks, Hindus, Romans and Egyptians observed and cracked those timeless geometrical codes and embedded them in their traditional arts.


Out of all the usual tattoo styles, this is my personal favourite and also requires a great deal of skill from the tattoo artist. This is due to the delicate, intricate designs that may incorporate symmetry, shapes, mandalas, patterns and repetition. ‘Sacred geometry’ is a term used to describe the concept that these patterns mimic the shapes found in our natural world and wider universe.


tattoo styles guide


New School


Cartoon-like designs influenced by graffiti and hip-hop artistic techniques and styles. Bubble-like designs, bright colours, exaggerated dimensions and features. Popular with popular culture icons and animals. Certain Tattoo styles can be modest and nondescript however New school tattoos defiantly help you stand out from the crowd.


tattoo styles guide




Intricate designs that use lots of tiny dots in areas where you might normally shade or use block colour. Often the tattoos are geometric and symmetrical (like this mandala) but dot-work can be used in almost anything (animals, flowers, etc). Dotwork tattoos are one of the most beautiful tattoo styles and particularly work well with lifework and geometric tattoo styles.


Tattoo styles guide


Neo Traditional


Neo traditional is similar to traditional in the use of bold outlines and intricate shading. What separates neo traditional is the nature of the tattoo being brighter, more dimensional, more detailed and more experimental with the blend and texture of the tattoo.


tattoo styles guide




Line work is something that’ s been popping up more often. I consider fine-line work to be a more delicate style, almost feminine, with no room for error.  It’s a beautifully simplistic style, great for those who want a tattoo but may not want to commit to a larger piece. Linework is typically included within geometric tattoos.


tattoo styles guide




Blackwork is pushing dotwork and linework to their extreme, with massive black tint areas, complex geometrical and symmetrical patterns influenced by Polynesian tattoos and graphic art. It focuses on the design, mostly ornamental, rather than the meaning or realism. From minimal to extremely intricate, blackwork tattoos are standing out.



Tattoo styles guide


1 thought on “The Complete Guide on Tattoo Styles

  1. Nice article, however I’d like to know if you have the actual tattoo artists name to credit somewhere if one would like to get check their work ?

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