Negative space tattoos are nothing new, but their artistry can sometimes go unnoticed. Because these types of designs can sometimes be subtle, negative space can be misconstrued as a normal outlined part of the ink. This style of tattoo is something different, though; instead of drawing an outline to create a shape, the design is done by using heavy colors to contour an area of skin to create a design. In simpler terms, your skin forms the image, rather than the ink.
These types of tattoos are unique because artists have to essentially ink a reverse image. Just like creating a stamp, the artist is carving out the parts that don’t touch the skin with ink and highlighting the major parts of the design by leaving them blank. While not all negative space tattoos are done in all black, it’s most common, considering blackwork will create the most contrast and, in turn, create a crisp tattoo design.
If you’re considering getting a negative space tattoo, the possibilities are endless. To help you find your next design inspiration, we’ve rounded up 19 beautiful negative space tattoos you need to see!
Outside the Lines Negative Space Tattoo
Just because you’re using a lot of black does not mean that your negative space design has to be fit into a precise shape. This tattoo is a great example of drawing outside of the lines by having the flowers hang over the edge of the background.
No Outline Negative Space Tattoo
Another great way to use negative space in your tattoo in a unique way is to create a blackwork design that doesn’t have an outline. By not defining the limits of the design, it almost feels like the black ink is interwoven with the skin.
Cloud And Moon Negative Space Tattoo
Being a big fan of blackwork tattoos is not a requirement for negative space tattoos, and there are a number of unique designs that don’t use mass amounts of black ink. This tattoo, for example, relies on the blackwork to define the shape of the design, but it doesn’t rely on it for impact.
Rose Negative Space Tattoo
Just because negative space tattoos are a design element all their own doesn't mean you have to keep the rest of the ink simple!.Instead, try the more-is-more approach: Add on as many elements as you’d like, from colored roses to animal details.
Photorealistic Negative Space Tattoo
For those who prefer photorealistic designs, utilizing negative space means your artist can spend a lot of time focusing on the details. The astronaut’s shape here was originally carved out by the black background before the artist went back in with shading.
Minimal Negative Space Tattoo
A minimalist negative space tattoo may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s entirely possible! Keep your design simple by using black ink to define large shapes, rather than using thin lines or small forms.
Black Diamonds Negative Space Tattoo
Rather than using blackwork only as a background for negative space tattoos, try incorporating them as an individual design element. Here, two solid black diamonds are used both as definition for the negative space flowers and as a shape for the snake to wrap around.
Shadow Negative Space Tattoo
If you have a design that will leave you seeing double, a negative space tattoo is a great idea for a unique ink. The fading-out dot design emphasizes the “carve-out” nature of the tattoo as well.
Negative & Black Negative Space Tattoo
By having a negative space design that continues outside of its background, your tattoo will feel more like it’s taking up space on your skin, rather than carving it out. This flower that starts in black ink and ends up as negative space is the perfect example of a minimal design that still creates the intended statement.
Armband Negative Space Tattoo
An armband is a great idea for negative space designs, as it means a large surface area and an innate feeling of movement. This tattoo also uses outlines and shading on the inner floral design but not around the edges of the overall tattoo, giving it a feeling of endlessness.
Bold Shapes Negative Space Tattoo
Negative space designs, just like all tattoos, can also be made whimsical with all the right elements. Here, the large shapes feel simple and the varying thicknesses adds playfulness, making the inner triangle pop just that much more.