A tattoo is a lifelong commitment. It’s something everybody should think about before stepping into a tattoo studio. So many times, a client will come into my studio to do a consultation & have no idea what they want. It’s my job to listen to each client & help them figure out what it is they truly want. Sometimes I’ll spark an idea just by asking questions & really getting into the client’s head. It isn’t always easy, especially when they really have no idea, they just want to get inked! I feel it’s important to have some type of idea for the artist, so that they are able to give you that perfect tattoo… something that you will be happy to live with for the rest of your life.
Every tattoo artist is different & we all have our own style. I love to do more detailed shit & drawn to realism. I started drawing portraits when I was a kid & that really helped me to open my eyes & see the beauty & ugly in everything. I’m always tracing objects & people with my eyes, so if you ever see my eyeballs moving around all weird, it’s probably because I want to draw you or a certain object near you HAHA I love doing fine line work & if you give me free creative reign, chances are I’ll do a black & grey tattoo infused with color. That’s just what I enjoy doing most. But there are so many styles out there that people don’t even know about. I’m hoping that writing this will help give some inspiration or idea for your next piece. Walk into your next tattoo studio knowing exactly what you want & become less of a headache for your tattoo artist. We always love it when our clients have an idea of the style or concept they are wanting.
I’m going to introduce you to 20 of “my” favorite tattoo styles, not in any specific order. These are the ones I’m attracted to & have a lot of fun with. Not all of them will interest you & that’s cool, we all have our own likes & dislikes, but maybe you will find a new love for a certain type of style.
My Top 20 Tattoo Styles
1. Black & Grey infused with color
This is by far my favorite type of tattooing method. In the beginning of my career, I remember feeling a bit lost with trying to find my style & what I wanted to do more of. Did I enjoy doing black & grey, or was color more fun for me? I actually enjoyed doing both & focused on executing both to the best of my ability, but still didn’t know which one I preferred to do. They say in order to stand out from the rest, you need to find your own style & showcase it in your portfolio. I just knew I wanted to do both! One day I came across a tattoo on Instagram that was done in black & grey but had pops of color in it. I remember thinking some shit like “damn that’s beautiful… that’s what I want to do”! I started suggesting this type of style to clients & the more I got to do, the more excited I would get LOL I had found my true passion & I have so much fun with being able to mix it up in one piece. You really get the best of both worlds! For example, I could do a portrait of a tiger in black & grey but make the tiger’s eyes blue. The color in the eyes would really pop out & draw people in. Majority of my tattoos that are done using this method are done mainly in black & grey. After I shade in all the black & grey, then I will find areas in the tattoo that I want to make the focus point & shade/saturate it with color. I have to really focus on the design & plan which areas will be black & grey & what will be in color, because if not done right, it can actually come out pretty shitty! It has to flow & make sense to the eyes.
All three tattoos were done by me at Tattoo JoJo & Studio, located in Crown Point, IN.
2. 3D Tattoos
3D tattoos are fuckin badass if executed right. This type of tattoo should stand out & really grab people’s attention. I’ve seen some really wicked ones before that caused me to do a double take. I wasn’t sure if I was staring at an actual object or a tattoo. They really show depth in a tattoo & I think that’s why I’m drawn to them. It takes skills to really get that 3D effect. You have to understand how gradients work & how to transition dark to light smoothly. Every now & then I’ll get a client who wants a realistic flying bug to look like its landed on them & they want that drop shadow. The drop shadow has to be done right, or it will just look like a black mess or cover-up. I’ve seen some horrible drop shadows, because the artist didn’t know how to shade smoothly. If a 3D tattoo is something you’re thinking about getting, you may want to see some of the artist’s work, to make sure that they can deliver what you’re wanting.
Tattoo #3: Done by me in the beginning of my career. Still was proud of this butterfly & its drop shadow. Even though I was fairly new at it, I figured I would show something from the beginning of my days. Imagine what I could do today 😉.
3. Geometric Tattoos
Geometric tattoos are really fun to look at. You can use several lines or geometric shapes to form a certain pattern, or a bigger shape. They can be done in an abstract way, or you can take images & translate it into your own geometric image. For example, sometimes an artist may see a rose that they really like, but want to re-create it using certain patterns, dot-work, or shapes within that rose. I like geometric because it allows for the artist to get really creative. Since I like doing flowers, portraits & realism pieces, every now & then I’ll combine those images with a cool geometric background. When it comes to geometric pieces, you want to make sure that your artist can lay clean solid lines & able to do tedious & time-consuming pieces. Geometric tattoos should never be rushed. Well, no tattoo should ever be rushed… But with geometric, your tattoo artist should be making sure that certain patterns are exact & needs to be precise.
Tattoo #1 & Tattoo #2: Both of these beautiful tattoos were done by Todd Emm, located in Durham, North Carolina. If there's one person who deserves recognition for the geometric category, it's definitely him! If you love what you see & have a Facebook, go check him out at facebook.com/toddemmtattoos.
4. Anatomical Tattoos
If you’re a Nurse or someone who is intrigued by the human body, then an anatomical tattoo may be something to consider. We all have muscles, tendons, veins, ligaments, bones, and organs that live inside of us & we can’t ever see them unless we get some type of x-ray or some shit. It’s actually kind of fascinating how all of our body parts work together to keep us alive & moving. Have you ever wondered what your heart looks like? Might sound weird, but I have! I was born with a small hole in my heart, so maybe something I would get is a realistic tattoo of a heart with a hole on it, right on the chest… torn skin around it as if you were looking inside my chest. An anatomical tattoo can be great for those wanting to remember a broken bone, injury, birth defect, etc. You could also get a tattoo of your liver if you are somebody who has defeated liver cancer… something to show off for being a survivor! It’s actually pretty cool how realistic some tattoo artist can get a certain organ or bone to look like.
Tattoo # 2: http://500tattoos.com/3d-tattoos/fot-199
5. Bio-mechanical Tattoos
If you’re someone who is into machinery, gears, robots, metal, tool parts, & anything that falls into this category, then maybe a bio-mechanical tattoo would be fit for you. I would say that men are more drawn to these badass tattoos, but females can definitely rock them too. These types of tattoos have A LOT of detail & usually can be a bit pricier. Not every tattoo artist can execute these well, but some are fuckin badass at capturing that 3D effect, texture, & shine. They have to be able to make it flow with your body & make it look legit, like it’s part of you. The most popular type of bio-mechanical tattoos are the ones that have ripped skin & exposes internal mechanical body parts. If you’re somebody that likes quick banger rushed tattoos, then this style would definitely not be for you.
Tattoo #1: This was done by me in my studio at Tattoo JoJo & Studio. If you haven't yet, make sure to follow me on Instagram at instagram.com/tat2_jojo.
6. Chicano Tattoos
Chicano tattoos are marked high on my list for favorites. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m Hispanic & it focuses on the Hispanic culture; I just know that the work can be absolutely beautiful & badass. I think another reason why I’m drawn to Chicano tattoos is because I really love doing smooth black & grey shading with fine lines. There’s a bunch of different things you can do with Chicano tattoos. It doesn’t matter if you’re a gangster or a religious person, you can take Chicano & rock it out in your beliefs or style. They can feature anything from statues of Greek Gods, Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, Day of the Dead sugar skulls, guns, clocks, gangsters, and money roses.
Tattoo #1: Another one done by me. It's always fun tattooing tattoos on tattoos. LOL Have a Tik Tok? Follow me @joannagutierrez59.
7. Hyper Realistic Tattoos
Hyper realism is something I’m trying to eventually be phenomenal at. My style in tattooing is focused on realism & detail. However, I have to admit that I haven’t mastered hyper realism just yet! No shame in my game, all artist will learn & grow throughout their career. Hyper realism tattoos can really get you to question if what you’re looking at is real or art. These types of tattoos will really make you think & question your perception of the tattoo. A good hyper realistic tattoo will have depth, smooth shading, tiny detail, and a flow of reality. Whenever I’m doing realism, I can get lost in my work, spending hours & multiple sessions on a piece. The tattoo artist needs to be able to have time & patience & have a great eye for detail, capturing everything that they see.
Tattoo #1: http://www.inkage.fr/un-tatouage-doeil-22-2/
Tattoo #2: This beautiful rose captures all the veins a rose would truly have. I can proudly say this tattoo was done by my cousin, whose a tattoo artist & owner, located in Minnesota. Go follow him on Instagram, instagram.com/davidgordontattoo.
8. Trash Polka Tattoos
Trash polka can be very interesting to look at, but to some it may seem like a chaotic mess. Chaotic, confusing, but beautiful. It’s intense to look at & can come off as being grungy or hazardous. The tattoo artist a lot of times will aim to tell a story by mixing realism with collages of “trash”, such as: splatters, smudges, & smears. They can even throw in words or phrases that overlay each other. Usually if they use lettering though, the letters aren’t made to be fuckin pretty. Most times the letters are jagged, rough, & sometimes made to feel like spray paint. With trash polka, colors are limited. This style is usually done in black & grey, red, and white… however, you can switch out the red with another color like blue & still make it trash. When I design trash polka tattoos I like to get buck wild with it LOL Remember, not everybody will understand it, but it will still be SICK if done right.
Tattoo #1: This was actually a huge cover-up I did for a client. Originally she had a hideous mess on her back that was suppose to be a phoenix, & we transformed it into a beautiful mess instead. From a phoenix to a raven in trash polka style. If you have a snapchat, go add me @tat2_jojo.
Tattoo #2: https://rogueink.com.au/trash-polka-tattoos/
9. Black-work/Blackout Tattoo
When you hear “black-work” or “blackout”, do you automatically assume that it’s done with black & grey shading? If so, your absolutely fuckin… WRONG! Don’t feel bad because when I first started tattooing, I thought the same thing. Black & grey tattoos are done with shades of black ink & black-work or blackout is done with using only the color black. It’s exactly how it sounds. It seems a lot of people don’t understand why someone would want to black out their whole arm, leg, or another body part… maybe they have a dark side & just like dark things… maybe they have an old tattoo that they need covered up & instead of spending a shit ton of money on laser removal, they will just go the blackout route & endure a little less pain. These types of tattoos are definitely not for everyone, because some people may look at them as being boring or plain, but they really don’t have to be. I admit I wasn’t into blackout tattoos until I learned that you could do so much with it. For one, black is my favorite color. The color black reminds me of elegance. Now take that elegant black tattoo & throw in some elements like lines, geometric patterns, negative space, dot-work & you got an awesome fuckin tattoo!
Tattoo #3: This is a micro portrait tattoo of Kurt Cobain that I did for a client, using nothing but straight black. I would love to do some more micro black-out portrait tattoos... whose game? Go follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/jojoswp.
10. Optical Illusion Tattoos
If you wanna mind-fuck some people, get an optical illusion tattoo. People will have to stop to do a double take & think about what it is they are really looking at. In order for the tattoo artist to achieve a successful optical illusion tattoo, they have to be able to capture depth, detail & smooth shading. I guess you could also say optical illusion also falls into the category of 3D tattoos as well. A skilled tattoo artist can really create an illusion so real that you might really think there is a bug coming out of someone’s skin, a galaxy inside someone’s chest, or a wood carving somehow happening on their leg. I love optical illusion tattoos because they can be so real but so surreal at the same time! This art style allows creativity to shine through for the tattoo artist in so many different ways. There could even be two different stories/images within a single tattoo… For instance, you see one image up close, but when you step further back it transforms into something completely different. These tattoos are great at deceiving the eyes!
11. Blast-Over/Blaster Tattoo
Blast-over is known to be a cover-up tattoo style. From my experience, not a lot of clients really know about this type of tattoo. When I first found out about this tattoo method, I remember talking about it to other tattoo artists’ & they all looked at me crazy because they had never heard of it before. Blast-over tattoos were invented for clients who had too many tattoos & no more clean space, but still wanted to get inked. They have a layered ink look to them. I recommend blast-over tattoos to clients who have old & faded color tattoos. You could still do a blast-over tattoo over a faded black & grey tattoo, but color just makes it look a whole lot more appealing. The blast over tattoo is pretty much bold black-work with traditional designs, lots of lines, & negative space. It allows the old tattoo to still show through & that’s what adds to the layered effect. These were made for the shitty tattoos. However, those shitty tattoos can actually have a lot of meaning behind them LOL I know, because I currently have a lot of shitty tattoos on myself! It can be hard to want to get it fully covered, because the story behind it holds a special place in our hearts. A blast-over tattoo would be the best way to go, since it doesn’t fully cover-up the old tattoo… you can still see peeks of the old tattoo through the negative space of the blast-over tattoo.
Tattoo #1: This is just a section of a blast-over sleeve tattoo I'm currently working on. We are blasting the client's arm with different Star Wars characters, planets, & spaceships. If you didn't know, I also have a Tumblr... You can find me @tat2jojo.
12. Dot-Work Tattoos
Dot-work tattoos can be simple or complex, but it takes the right tattoo artist to perform this type of style. Dot-work tattoos is just how it sounds. They are created with tiny dots to make an overall piece of art & usually takes a lot of time & effort. Ask yourself, could you sit through hours of constant poking, because it’s more of a hand-poking technique? You want to make sure your tattoo artist is highly skilled & enjoys doing dot-work. For me, I find tattooing dots can actually be very therapeutic for the tattoo artist. I enjoy doing dot-work because it relaxes me. The cool thing about dot-work tattoos is it can be collaborated with traditional, oriental, realism, mandala, geometric, or even spiritual art. It’s amazing when a tattoo artist uses the dot-work technique to shade & add detail to a piece. The closer the dots are together, the darker of a shade you would get. Spread those dots out & you get a lighter shade. Like I said before, this takes true talent to execute! Some clients don’t realize how hard dot-work can actually be. I’ve heard them say things like “oh its simple, I just want a bunch of dots”. Don’t be that guy LOL.
Tattoo #1: https://rogueink.com.au/dot-work-tattoos/
Tattoo #3: https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/dotwork-tattoo
13. Portrait Tattoos
I love, love, love doing portraits! I enjoy doing both human & animal portraits. I started drawing portraits as a child, because I loved capturing what I’d see. However, even I know that drawing portraits on paper, is completely different from tattooing them on the skin. It takes a lot of time & patience & you need to be known as like a fuckin scanner machine! If you see something in the photo, scan it onto the skin… well that’s how I like to relate to myself, as a scanner LOL Portrait tattoos are great for those who want to memorialize a loved one or an idol. It’s a great way to pay tribute to someone. I enjoy doing portrait tattoos because they can really make a person feel closer to someone they truly love & respect. It doesn’t always have to be a human figure, but a pet that you adore or have recently lost. Though some tattoo artists’ find animal portraits to be hard, because of all the hair & fur, I actually have a lot of fun with them. Probably because I enjoy a challenge! If a portrait tattoo is something you are considering, make sure your tattoo artist has a good eye for detail. You also want to make sure they have smooth shading & can execute fine line work. The worst experience is trusting a tattoo artist to do a meaningful piece on you & they don’t have the patience to really focus on the detail or accuracy, so they rush & make it look like your grandma done ran through the grinder! That’s never no good…
Tattoo #1: This was a fun tattoo I put together for a client that wanted his pup on him. Wanted to do something a lil' different with this one, so I added in red triangles to separate sections of the tattoo from black & grey & color. This pup was super cool, because he had one blue & one brown eye. Here's a direct link if you would like to do a free consultation with me... tattoojojo.com/book-online. The first step is just filling out the short consultation form.
Tattoo #2: https://www.inkedmag.com/tag/black-and-grey
14. Surrealism Tattoos
Surrealism tattoos can be one of the strangest, but interesting forms of art. It takes a creative mind to design a masterpiece. Surrealism tattoos remind me of our dreams… sometimes our dreams can be bizarre & unreal but feel so real at the same time. Anything can really happen or go with surrealism tattoos. The tattoo artists’ imagination can create an illusion or display visual poetry. I have a fascination with drawing eyeballs, so one thing I could do in my tattoo design is put eyeballs where they don’t belong, like in someone’s mouth… or maybe I could place eyeballs on their fingertips. It allows the tattoo artist to get as wicked & wild as they want. You could have objects with hidden faces, geometric portals, a human morphing into an animal/creature, faces melting, or even a distorted view of some type of scene. There really are no limits or boundaries, that’s what makes surreal tattoos so fun.
15. Abstract Tattoo
Abstract tattoos are very artistic & gives the tattoo artist the ability to run free & wild with their ideas & creativity. These types of tattoos are great for people who want something completely different from your standard traditional tattoos. The goal with abstract isn’t really to showcase reality, but to showcase actual forms of art. Abstract tattoos usually hide more than what you can see, because many of them have special meaning. A lot of times, the tattoo will have a secret message behind it, that isn’t told with words, but by visual imagery & art. If you are someone who likes to express emotions & inner feelings, then these types of tattoos would be perfect for you, because they can really make you feel a certain art piece. You can have a totally different perspective on an abstract tattoo then someone else, & that’s totally fine. They make people think about what they are seeing. Trash polka tattoos are a great example of abstract tattoos. Like paintings, abstract tattoos have a mixture of colorful & creative brush-strokes & lines. I love abstract tattoos because if you are a shy person or someone who has been holding onto something for a long time, you can really express everything through your tattoo without actually revealing that secret or whatever it is you’re trying to hide. How cool is that?!
16. Graffiti Tattoo
Graffiti tattoos are known as urban & street art tattoos. They are bold & usually done in vibrant colors, though graffiti can also look good in just black & grey. Graffiti is most popular in western nations. Some people, like myself, has mad appreciation & respect for graffiti, while others can find it offensive, trashy, or even confusing. If you don’t like the style, then you just SUCK! LOL I’m just fuckin with you, we all have our own taste! But if you’re not into huge looking letters, unique custom fonts, scribing, words that can be hard to read & understand, then graffiti tattoos wouldn’t be fit for you. Graffiti has a city hip-hop vibe. It’s exciting & edgy. A lot of times the tattoo artist will imitate the spray paint look, because that’s the technique & material used to create graffiti. If you are someone who wants to make a statement on a certain topic, or convey a certain message with your beliefs, then graffiti is always a fun way to do that.
Tattoo #3: https://tattoo-ideas.com/graffiti-eye/
17. Glitch Tattoos
Glitch means error or mistake. We see a glitch on our tv or laptops & a lot of times it can annoy the fuck out of us! So, why would any tattoo artist want to purposely make a mistake in their tattoo? As you may already know though, when it comes to art, things don’t always have to be perfect… it can be chaotic & distorted. Glitch tattoos are known for that & I like to call them crazy/beautiful. The tattoo artist can take any image & distort it by creating offset zig-zagging lines to create that glitch tattoo. Sometimes the artist can even throw in pixels to pixelate it, but I’ll be talking about pixel tattoos in another upcoming blog. You can have fun with glitch tattoos, by adding in different types of elements. If you’re someone who’s into sci-fi, weirdness, or eerie things, then this style might be something you could look into. They can really show the beauty in something, while also reminding us that even beauty has imperfections. Glitch tattoos take a lot of skill & proper planning. The composition & layout of the design needs to flow & align in a way that makes sense.
Tattoo #1: https://www.nofacetattoo.com/Max.html
18. Negative Space Tattoos
Negative space tattoos can sometimes be confused with inverted tattoos, because they both work with contrasting black & white. With inverted tattoos though, you take the traditional black on white tattoo & change it up to white on black. Negative space tattoos aren’t always done by swapping your darks & lights. They are created & known for using your natural skin color for the lightest parts of your design. Negative space tattoos are definitely one of my faves & I’ve been tattooing a lot of my designs in this way, because they really make the tattoo stand out. When you have negative space in your tattoo, it can sometimes make it seem like your tattoo is glowing. Some people may actually think that the tattoo artist used white, but in reality, they really didn’t. When it comes to my tattoos, I don’t really like to use a lot of white especially in large areas. Don’t get me wrong, I love white… but for highlights! And if you’re a tattoo artist who likes to pound in a lot of white, I’m not saying that shit’s the wrong way of doing things, it’s just not how I like to do things. So, for whites & the lighter areas, I like to use the negative space technique. For me, the tattoo just looks more appealing & will most likely look better over time as the tattoo ages.
Tattoo #3: This one was done by me. I use a lot of the skin for lighter areas & the silhouette of the wolf is done with just using his skin, but you can really see how it glows.
19. Black & Grey Tattoos
Beauty doesn’t always have to be in color. Some people prefer their tattoos to be more subtle than vibrant. I love tattooing black & grey tattoos, because it allows for me to whip out the shading needle & I have a lot of fun with the shading & detail. It’s where I can really create depth & shadows, & watch the tattoo transform into this beautiful picture. It’s exciting to watch. Black & grey tattoos are known for its gradients & if done right, you should really see the smoothness in transitions from dark to light. Even though black & grey tattoos are looked at as simpler, the tattoo artist needs to know how to work alongside harsher shadows with softer shades. Some tattoo artists excel more in color & find black & grey to be difficult. Like with any tattoo style, it’s important to view the tattoo artists’ portfolio, because if not done right, you could end up with a dark, flat, no contrasting, fucked up tattoo that is hard to read. Black & grey tattoos are great if you are someone who wants a longer lasting tattoo. However, it’s important that the level of shading is executed well, or the tattoo will fade, look blotchy & not hold up over time. The great thing with black & grey tattoos is that you can really use it in any style & on all types of skin colors.
Tattoo #2: This smooth black & grey tattoo was done by my dude Luis Cardona. He's currently layin down ink in Chicago, IL. Go check out his Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100019442056876.
Tattoo #3: Leon Congenie is a black & grey tattoo artist located in Libertyville, IL. Check out this dope ass Venom piece he did. Go follow him on Instagram at instagram.com/heavy_inks.
20. Mandala Tattoos
If you are someone who loves ancient art & into the Buddhism & Hinduism religion, then a mandala tattoo may be something to consider. You don’t have to believe in the religion though to appreciate or want this style of tattoo. Mandala tattoos display love, patience, & peacefulness, so a lot of people tend to want them for those reasons. There is so much beauty within mandala tattoos… not just visually, but spiritually as well. They are usually round in shape & start with a center point that extends out symmetrically with patterns of geometric shapes. Their circular shape is a representation that life has no ending. They are known to be a flower type tattoo, representing the “Life of a Flower”. Mandala tattoos also look great with dot-work in them & can also look awesome with photo images. Usually when I’m talking to a client about a mandala tattoo, they think that it only looks good in black ink… I’m thinking maybe because that’s how they usually see them. However, I’m attracted to the mandala tattoos that have pops of color in them… but then again that’s more of my style!
Tattoo #1: This mandala tattoo was done by me. Haven't really done a whole lot of them, but they are def a lot of fun. Would love to do some more with pops of color, like the one on the far right. Lets do it!
Damn, I didn’t realize how long I was gonna make this! LOL Sometimes I can go on & on & on when it comes to the topic of tattoos. I hope that I didn’t bore you too much & you found this blog to be somewhat informative & helpful. Remember, these were just my top
20 favorite tattoo styles out there & if you come to me wanting one of these styles, I’m sure were gonna have a lot of fun! There are a shit ton of other tattoo styles out there, so if you didn’t feel drawn to any of these twenty, then fingers crossed you’ll find some inspiration in my next blog.
Stay tuned for 25 MORE tattoo styles:
New School, Minimalistic, Mayan, Line, Inverted, Gradient, Mambo/Destrutturato, Celtic, Ambigram, U-V Glow in the dark, Japanese, Neo-Traditional, Pixel, Pop-Art, Stained-Glass, Tribal, Watercolor, Wood Carving, Sketch, Silhouette, American Traditional, Broken-Glass, Jewel/Gem, Letters/Quote, White Ink
Tattoo JoJo - Tattoo Artist
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Come see us at our studio! We are located on the 2nd floor. Our clients are treated like V.I.P. & sessions are more private & personal. Nothing is ever rushed & we always strive for quality. Everyone of all races, genders, & sexuality are welcome! We just ask that you please be 18+.
Tattoo JoJo & Studio
65 W 112th Ave. Crown Point, IN