are an art form. And to me, art is creativity. So no list will ever
be complete, until there will be someone out there working on
something new. But this (a rewriting of an old piece I wrote for ET
on tumblr) can help to know a little bit more about modern tattoo
styles. Take your time to understand the differencies, go through the names in the list, find your style. A good tattoo lasts forever, and knowledge is the roots of a good choice.
Is usually referred to American classic tattooing. Artists like Amund
from the firtst decades of 1900, are the names to start from if you
want to know its roots, Classical
subjects (anchors, ships, roses, daggers, eagles, horses etc.),
simple designs, bold lines and basic color palettes. Traditional
tattooing is definitely more than a trend, with its own philosophy
and unwritten rules.
Tony Nilsson, Cassandra Frances, Samuele Briganti, Paul
Dobleman, Paul Fulton, Florian Santus, Moira Ramone (pics: Moira Ramone, Paul Fulton, Mauro Quaresima)
is also a different kind of traditional, widly diffused, enough to be
considered a style, that people keep considering part of traditional
or neo traditional. It keeps bold lines, and part of the classic
imaginery, mixed with weird, modern, surreal, pop stuff. No limits
for color palettes, no rules. Tradition meets creativity, one of the
Carlo, Ron Wells, Luca Font, Pietro Sedda, Ray Wallace, Dane Mancini,
Laura Yahna, Ibi Rothe, Deno Jr (pics: Ray Wallace, El Carlo, Laura Yahna, Dane Mancini)
Originally called Irezumi, its roots runs deep in the history of its
country. Its meaning in Japanese culture changed through the
centuries, from tebori (tattooing by hand) to Yobori (tattooing by
machine), to became part of the classic Japanese imaginaery, as we
know it. Not every asian themed tattoo (common subjects like dragons,
yokai demons, tigers, hannya masks and so on) is japanese style.
Everything from colors to placement, to the shapes of the untattooed
areas has its rules. As any other ancient styles, of course, you can
find its modern, contaminated, version too (Gakkin or Wendy Pham’s
works are a good example).
Pino Cafaro, Caio Pinero, Bill Canales, Gotch, Rodrigo Souto, Yutaro (Bill Canales, Pino Cafaro, R. Souto, Shigenori Ywasaki)
tribal and ornamental: usually referred to a mix of geometrical
shapes, patterns, mandalas, asian motives, and Maori influences.
Guy le tatooer,
Thomas Hooper, Marco Galdo, Chaim Machlev, Little Swastika (Guy, C. Machlev, T. Hooper)
From portraits, to a custom piece, to the perfect reproduction of a
picture/painting. Realistic tattoos is one of the most spectacular
styles in tattooing. No black outline, and lifelike shades, black and
grey or colors. It easily mixes with different styles, like with
where realism is just a technical part of their own style.
Hernandez, Chris Gherman, Alex De Pase, Scrappy Uno, Sandra Daukshta,
Lippo, Sam Stokes (Lippo, A. Acosta, S. Daukshta)
A trend in the late 90’, basically made of mechanical parts that
looks like fused with the flesh. Organic and unorganic elements are
realistically drawn, to create the illusion to be carved in the
McDonald, Carson Hill, Guy Hatchinson (who creates bio organic style) (itp: Carson Hill, Don McDonald, Guy Atchinson)
Fantasy, big eyes subjects, rounded shapes, bright colors, crazy
proportions and prospectives. Another style that was more popular in
the 90’, now is often fused with different styles, specially with neo
Berinkey (she fuses new school and sketchy/illustrative styles for
her designs), Adam Hawtorne (another one with his own distintcive
illustrative style), David Tevenal, Nathan Evans (mixing neo trad e
new school) (A. Hawtorne, A. H., David Tevenal)
Illustrative like tattoos, where classical subjects like women,
crows, snakes, triangles, wolves etc. (from the classic old school
imaginery), are drawn with bright colors, and realistical shading, in
a aperfect mix between traditional and realism.
Rose, Dusty Neal, Lu’s Lips, Christophe Bonardi, Debora Cherrys,
Rodrigo Kalaka El Uf, Jack Goks Pearce. (E. R. Murray, R. Kalaka, Teresa Sharpe, Lu’s Lips)
Text tattoos are usually a bad idea, unless they are done in the
proper style, and from a specialized artist.
Will Rise, Justin Wilson, Big Meas (N. W. R., J. Wilson, Big Meas)
the word “Chicano”, referred to American citizen of Mexican
origin, ceased to be a slur in the 60’, while the style itself was
born a couple decades before. Common subjects are wemen, skulls,
roses, and religious icons, usually in black and gray.
Macko (Macko, Boog)
are the most common, radicated, worldly reconized style. But is just
a partial view of what the contemporary tattoo scene can offer. In
the last 15 years, more and more styles are born. Some of them still
don’t even have a name, some have more than one. Some of them will
became classic and some are just a trend.
fact: wikipidia’s italian “tattoo” page have “genital” listed
as one of the most common styles.
The colors are spread to simulate watercolors. Often mixed with other
styles. People keeps debating about how watercolor tattoos will age.
Only time will tell.
Amanda Wachob, Niko Inko (A. Wachob, G. Smash, Klaim)
the names probably comes from a folder where the artist Xoil (still
one of the best in this style) used to store his works’ pics.
you have ever used PS, you know what I’m talking about. PS style is
basically a collage of different images and techniques, from
watercolor to dotwork to lettering.
Niko Inko, Voller Kontrast, Little Swastika, Jef Palumbo, Arlin
ffrench (J. Palumbo, Xoil)
geometrical elements are common in modern tattoo designs, but some
artists generated a new trend, mixing illustrative elements, modern
tribal patterns, and geometrical lines.
Buchi, Daniel Meyer, Valentin Hirsch, Kamil Czapiga
(C. Machlev, D. Meyer, Maxime Buchi)
The artist draw on skin all the lines that usually are ereased in a
finished design, to create the illusion of a pencil sketch.
Nahon, Sam Rulz, Nomi Chi, Sven Groenvald (Lea Nahon, S. Groenvald, Nomi Chi)
Again, not exactly a style. The artist uses realistic shading,
shadows and prospectives to give the illusion of depth.
on a thin line between illustrative, sketchy, and traditional
tattoos, engraving uses black lines to simulate ancient wood
engraving techniques, taking inspiration from medieval like
Rulz, Maxime Buchi, Andrei Svetov (A. SV, Sam Rulz)
Next style has no name yet, and it’s slightly less diffused.. But I like it, so it’s in the list. ;) Tipical traditional pieces but coloured with flat colors, almost no shades, and twisted, experimental, original designs.
Adrian Edek, Sany Kim, Aivaras Lee, Patryk Hilton
a definition I hate, cause I’m convinced there is no room for sex
differencies in art. I’m a big bearded boy and still I would
proudly wear a Jody Dawber or Cassandra Frances’ piece. Still,
this is how people call it. Bold lines and flat shading are mixed
with bright colors like pink, yellow, light blue, that perfectly fits
the “cuteness” of the subjects, often inspired from pop culture
and cartoon characters.
Dawber (basically a traditional artist), Alex Strangler, Sasha Mezoghlian (A. Strangler, J. Dawber, S. Mezoghlian)
last style of this list have no name yet, but it’s still worth to be
considered cause of it’s diffusion and people response to it.
Basically the artists recreates a simpler, geometrical, version of
the subjects, with no black outline, and a watercolor effect.
Unisex, Marius Trubisz, Marcin Surowiec, David Cote (M. Surowiec, Sasha Unisex)
Bert Grimm (1900–1985) started hanging around tattoo shops in Portland Oregon when he was about 11 or 12 years old, Throughout the years he operated shops in Chicago, Honolulu, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Seattle, Los Angeles, Long Beach, St Louis, Portland and Seaside Oregon, and China.
Bert is probably best remembered today for the shop that he operated at the Nu Pike in Long Beach, CA from the 1950s to the late 60s. “Bert Grimm’s World Famous Tattoo” was historic, It was the oldest continuously operated tattoo parlor in the United States where generations of sailors got inked up before shipping out !!!