Our Favorite Types of Tattoo Art

Updated 05/16/19

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Sometimes, the key to making a tattoo your own is basing it off of a classic style. Before heading to a tattoo shop, spend some time researching the oldies to create something new, more you. Each classic style has its own special technique when it comes to the inking process. 

Some of these classics are rich in heritage and culture, carrying a certain history with them. If you choose to go for a traditional style, its always a good idea to know the history behind the design and its meaning. 

Treat your body like you would any other form of fine art and be sure to explore all different art  and interpretations before making a permanent mark. While tribal and old school tattoos are some of the more popular forms, black and gray line tattoos are a timeless choice if you enjoy fine details.

Once you've narrowed down your art style, you can begin to find an artist who specializes in that type of tattooing. From there, you can explore design ideas to further enhance your piece and enrich its meaning.

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Fine Lines

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Fine line black and gray tattoos originated in the Chicano communities of East LA during the 1970s. The use of a single-needle created fine lines with smooth and subtle shading in varied shades of black and gray. Today these artsy sketches include floral, memorial, and portrait pieces.

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Biomechanical or "Organic" Tattoos

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For the hardcore sci-fi or industrial fan, biomechanical tattoos may be the right choice. These tattoos are hyper-realistic and appear to be a peek into one's body. They vary from robotic parts to images seeming to come from the inside and are often paired with ripped apart flesh or mechanical elements. Designs of biomechanical tattoos pop on chiseled parts of the body, like arms, legs, or necks. Their fantastical patterns are sure to draw attention. 

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Asian-Inspired Designs

woman with tattoos on her arm

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These colorful and bright tattoos are known for their strong lines and imagery. Traditionally, some designs include cherry blossoms, language symbols, and fierce animals like tigers or dragons. 

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Tribal Patterns

woman with tribal tattoos

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Tribal tattoos have a rich, historic meaning and carry lots of weight with them. Unfortunately, as years have passed, many seem to have lost track of what they truly mean. Depending on where the designs originate from, their meanings change. But, generally, true tribal tattoos tattooing practices are often considered rites of passage and may involve monks, blessings, and more painful hand-poked tattooing methods. Rich in spiritual meaning, tribal tattoos mark one part of life to the next.

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Old School Americana

a woman with tattoos on her arms above her head smiling

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Traditional and old school tattoos are often used interchangeably, and their designs include eagles, pin-up girls, ships, and anchors. From memorial pieces to love and glory tattoos, one of the most popular artists that specialized in creating this type of tattoo style is Norman Keith Collins, also known as Sailor Jerry. You can read more about Sailor Jerry and explore the history of old school tattoos here.

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