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Understanding Tattoo Styles

There are so many different styles of tattoos that it might feel a little overwhelming when trying to decide what kind of tattoo you want. Knowing the names of different styles can help you to research and decide if that is the style of tattoo that you want. Here is a basic guide to some of the most popular tattoo styles to help guide in your tattoo decision making.

Traditional/old school: Tattoos with bold black lines, bright colors, minimal shading. Usually with stereotypical topics such as crosses, skulls, anchors, and roses.

Neo Traditional: Tattoos with finer lines mixed with bold colors and more true to life illustrated designs.

Fine Lines: Tattoos with a delicate style as the name suggests. Usually involve small or single needles to create the fine design. 

Tribal: Tattoos that usually involve elaborate patterns and can range in size. They will highlight different tribal cultures.

Watercolor: Tattoos that are meant to look delicate, minimal to no lines to allow the colors to flow and blend. 

Blackwork: Tattoos that have no color other than black with no grey or shading. These can be very big bold designs to very simple and small. 

Realism: Tattoos that look realistic and true to life. These can be done in color or black and grey.

Photo Realism: Tattoos that look like a photograph. These can be people, places, or objects.

Japanese: Tattoos that have a distinct look and use symbolism to show meaning. These tell stories through the ink. 

Trash Polka: Tattoos that mix blackwork, realism, and trash. Usually in black and red to create a mix of elements.

Geometric: Tattoos of lines and shapes. These can turn everyday things geometric. 

Black and Grey: Tattoos done in shades of black and grey. Focuses mostly on the shading to create dimension.

Anime: Tattoos inspired by anime movies, shows, comics. There are many different styles of anime tattoos that can be created.

Cartoon: Tattoos done in a style to depict a cartoon caricature. Can be an actual cartoon or something else designed to look like a cartoon character.

Abstract: Tattoos that do not attempt to represent external reality. Can be different shapes, form, and colors. 

Sketch: Tattoos usually done in black to look like an authentic, not to clean sketch look. These tattoos can also be done in color.

While there are a lot of styles listed, there are many more that were not. Even within some of these styles there are sub-styles. When researching for your next tattoo, take a look at some styles that you are wanting and use those as a starting point to allow your artist to design a great tattoo for you.


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