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What are the different types of Tattoo Styles? - Tattoo Styles Guide

Updated: Jul 30, 2021

1. American Traditional Tattoo Style

The American Traditional is also known as the old school tattoo style that is the easiest tattoo style to be identified and they age beautifully. Part of the reason why American Traditional tattoos are popular is that Americans have been involved in almost every single war, and both sailors and soldiers who had tattoos have to travel for their deployments. This style is known for its bold black lines alongside saturated primary colours with designs that are intentionally kept minimal and 2D. The American Traditional style includes but is not limited to iconic images such as pin-up, nautical designs, swallow, roses, and are inspired by the American history.

If you're interested to know who created the American Traditional Tattoo Style, click here.

2. Neo Traditional Tattoo Style

This is a modern evolution of the American Traditional style that gained popularity since the 80's and 90's, where it has a broader colour palette, avoids bright and vibrant colours, and a wider range of designs.

3. New School Tattoo Style

No longer bound by its limitations, the New School Tattoo Style have a distinct graffiti or cartoonish perspective with vibrant colours and intentional disproportions that first gained popularity in the 80s and through the 90s. It is also not restricted by flash walls and usually incorporate pop culture elements into the design.

4. Abstract Tattoo Style

Art is extremely subjective and this style is unique in every design as they represent one's thought and inner feelings, that expresses both emotional and spiritual thoughts yet open to interpretation.

5. Blackwork Tattoo Style

This style cons mainly black ink that utilise negative space to create details in a tattoo design. It is suitable for people who appreciates both minimalism as well as the boldness of the black artistic expression through dark art.

6. Biomechanical Tattoo Style

The Biomechanical style gives an illusion of ripped skin whilst showing the inner mechanical 'organs' just like the well-known movie, Terminator. Biomechanic tattoos are generally designed in realistic manner and its' genre is treated as a unity of man and machine.

7. Chicano Tattoo Style

These designs includes classic themes like religious figures, flowers, text, skulls, women and portraits. They are based on the Mexican culture and experiences; that's often done in black and grey ink. This style is easy to be enthralled by the artwork and resonates easily with most people.

8. Dotwork Tattoo Style

This method uses multiple dots rather than solid lines to create dynamic images, and is commonly used in geometric, blackwork, spiritual and mandala tattoo designs. Artist may utilise dotwork for shading that brings an art to life.

9. Geometric Tattoo Style

This style symbolise balance, stability, mystery and much more through the use of lines, geometric shapes, and often as abstract backgrounds.

10. Japanese Tattoo Style

Like American Traditional, every image used in Japanese tattoo has a meaning and purpose. The Japanese tattoo style began as a means of conveying societal status, spiritual symbols and devotion. At some point, tattoos in Japanese culture became a form of punishment for prisoners of war (POW), criminals and slaves. Some iconic images include the Japanese Dragon, Koi Fish, Phoenix, Tiger, Snake, Hannya Mask Oni Mask and Japanese Flower.

11. Lettering Tattoo Style

Words can often transmit much more than an image as they can either bring the greatest happiness or the deepest despair. Lettering tattoo or words and phrase tattoo literally spells out what you are making reference to, and it may be a beautiful product when done right.

12. Line Art Tattoo Style

Line tattoos are interesting thanks to its simplicity as well as in various abstract designs, and usually portrays a minimalistic outcome. They look clean but make a bold statement.

13. Realism Tattoo Style

Realism tattoos do not have clear defined outlines like the American Traditional tattoo as this style utilise gradual shading and layering to create depths and contrasts that produces the 3D perspective of real-life imagery. This style requires accuracy and attention to details that creates anything from portraits to landscapes.

14. Tribal Tattoo Style

Tribal Tattoo Style covers many cultures and histories, and is the oldest surviving art form of humanity. One of the most famous tribal tattoos in contemporary culture are Polynesian Tattoos, with designs that illustrate rites of passage, clan affiliation, social status, wartime achievements, personality as well as philosophy. It is important to know the history and background of the tribe that you would like to emulate in tattoo form to avoid disrespecting any tribes.

15. Watercolour Tattoo Style

This style's beauty of the aesthetic and designs are often hard to ignore. The Watercolour tattoo style involves vivid colours applied onto the skin as if ink was spilled on a canvas or a classic watercolour painting but the lack of black line has caused some concern for aging watercolour tattoos and in the end, it's a matter of personal choice, as it is with all tattoos.


Now that you have a better understanding of the various tattoo styles, click here if you're interested to know what to expect for the first tattoo as well as here for your Tattoo Aftercare Guide.

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