A common word of warning when shopping for a new tattoo is that tattoos are forever. While advances in the world of tattoo removal mean that isn’t entirely true anymore, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still do everything you can to find a tattoo option that you love and will be proud to wear for the rest of your life. The good news is there’s never been a better time to be in the market for a new tattoo, as there are so many talented artists providing tattoos in so many different styles and aesthetics.
With various visual motifs to choose from it means there is always a perfect match for you just waiting to be discovered. Many artists excel in specific types of tattoo design, however, so it can be helpful to understand some of the most popular tattoo styles to find your best fit before you begin searching for an artist who can execute your style masterfully.
The traditional style has its name for a reason — if you’re thinking of a stereotypical old-fashioned tattoo you are likely thinking of a traditional design. Traditional designs are identified by their clear lines and bright colors, as well as often featuring a slightly stylized representation of any humans, as opposed to strictly realistic representation. Although there are popular design elements for traditional designs, like portraits and flowers, modern designs with a traditional tilt can represent nearly anything with the distinct stylings of a traditional tattoo.
Although the “new” in new school may be a couple of decades past its sell-by date at this point, the look has never gone out of style. New school designs took the artistic elements of traditional tattoos and elevated them to a new level. That means that they feature even brighter and bolder colors and more cartoony looks.
Going in the other direction, photo-realistic tattoos seek to take inspiration from the real world and translate it into a perfect representation on the recipient’s body. Whether done in color or black-and-white, these tattoos require a great deal of skill to get right. Many lists of tattoo nightmares feature realism tattoos gone awry, with efforts to shade in black-and-white resulting in monstrous faces.
Although artists love watercolor paints for the ease of blending and fading colors in beautiful ways, tattoo artists don’t have that luxury when creating in this style. Instead, a skilled tattoo artist uses their needle to masterfully create the blends which give watercolor tattoos their namesake appeal.
There’s no style of tattoo which is best. Your ideal tattoo is one which has meaning to you and is in a style you love. One great way to get inspiration is to choose what you want tattooed and do an online search along with one of the genres above. The prior examples you find can help you see how your design translates into a given style and helps you to choose just the right tattoo for you.