Tattooing has been an art of body modification which has followed us from centuries. While the oldest tattoo is dated back to between 3370 and 3100 BC, it has come a long way. Tattoos get a very mixed reaction from the general crowd, while some people love it, some people hate it. Tattoos had different uses and purposes centuries ago. For example, in ancient China, they were looked down on and were considered barbaric. Similarly in ancient Rome and Greece tattoos was used to penalize criminals, slaves, and prisoners of war. Whereas in other countries such as the United Kingdom, tattoos were used as a mark to commemorate sea voyages. Even the earliest evidence of tattoo which was from the upper paleolithic age is believed to be for done for the purpose of healing.

Nonetheless, tattoos nowadays have risen in trend and are seen being fashioned by people of all ages.

With the rise of tattoos, many artists have introduced and changed the ways of tattooing creating new styles and techniques of tattoo art. And since tattooing is a form of art, there are many different styles to it. Here are some major styles of different tattoo art.

Traditional tattoo

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A.k.a ‘American Traditional’ or ‘Old-school’, this is one of the most well-known and iconic tattoo styles out there. These tattoos are big with bold lines, colorful and are easy to spot. Some of the common designs include roses, daggers, nautical signs, and eagles.

Neo-Traditional tattoo

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This is very much similar to its predecessor, the neo-traditional tattoos are quite similar to traditional tattoos having very similar influences and styles like crisp designs, bold lines but neo-traditional tattoos are much more descriptive and illustrative as neo-traditional tattoo artists are inspired by the art decor and art nouveau aesthetics.

Realism

Realism found its way into the realm of fine art since the Renaissance period. But in the tattoo realm, it has become increasingly popular. Realism is famous for its highly detailed and picturesque details which make a tattoo look very realistic.

Watercolor

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This style of tattoo has recently become more popular with its increase in demand by newer and younger tattoo enthusiasts. It is exactly as the name suggests which looks like the tattoo has been dabbed with watercolor. It can look very whimsical and aesthetically pleasing.

Black work

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Not to be confused with a black and grey tattoo, black work consists of pieces that are done with only black ink. Black works can be experimented with and can be designed completely to the choice of the customer which allows this tattoo to be unique and versatile and this style of tattoo is more about the ink than a particular style of art.

3D

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As the name would suggest 3-d tattoos mimic themselves to be three dimensional. A 3-d tattoo looks very real and mesmerizing and is done with a lot of detail and finesse.

Chicano

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This style of tattoo art was born behind the bars and has a lot of inspiration from Hispanic cultures and has been evolved and developed by tattoo artists. This style is truly beautiful and breathtaking with common themes such as sugar skulls, virgin Mary, crosses, and guns.

Geometric

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Geometric tattoos are all about intricately detailed shapes, and can have endless of possibilities ranging from different shapes or even the mixture of various shapes. Geometric tattoos have been around for a long time and with its symmetry and abstract images, these tattoos have grown famous.

Tribal

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Tribal tattoos are one of the oldest styles of tattoos. Having origins from indigenous cultures, tribal tattoos are very traditional having a lot of meaning. And tribal tattoos have a very diverse style which can be seen due to its inspiration from different aboriginal cultures.

Japanese

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The traditional Japanese tattoo styles originated in the Edo period between 300 BC to 300 AD. But the Japanese have known to be pursuing tattoo arts earlier before that. Japanese traditional style tattoos are also called “Irezumi” and this style of tattoo focuses on Japanese culture. Tattoos with lotuses, Japanese letterings like Kanji and anything that contributes to and has originated from the Japanese culture is popular with this style of tattoo.

Minimalist

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Minimalist tattoos have grown into popularity with their simple and uncomplicated designs. Minimal tattoos usually are small and may have a deeper meaning to the wearer. These tattoos are sleek, simple yet stylish and a great tattoo for someone who doesn’t want to draw too much attention.

Pointillism

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Pointillism takes detailing to the next level. Pointillism tattoos are made from dots which from a distance will look like a complete image. Upon looking closer, these tattoos are dots which even make these tattoos more intricate and complex.

Typography

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Typography can mean lettering, scripts, or even calligraphy tattoos. These tattoos will mostly be words, quotes or lyrics or any word that will be tattooed and can vary with font and size.          

Surrealism

Like surrealism art, surrealism tattoos verge upon something that looks quite real but has something off about it. It can have hidden meaning and details that may seem weird. Inspired by surrealism, these tattoos follow a similar path to its fine art ancestor.

White Ink

While most tattoos are done with black or colour ink, white tattoos are done with white ink. These tattoos are very subtle and can barely be seen depending upon the natural colour of the skin.

Glow in the dark

As the name would suggest, these tattoos glow in the dark. They are tattoed with the help of UV ink which soaks up light. These tattoos are mostly done to highlight pre-existing tattoos.

Lines

Lines are pretty simple, but not to be confused with minimalist or geometric tattoos. As the name would suggest, these tattoos are usually a line or a set of lines tattooed on the body varying on the position and design. This tattoo is the ultimate definition for “less is more”.

Optical Illusion

Art has come a long way, and this style of tattoo proves it. This style of tattoo is all about tricking the human eye with illusions. 

Outlines

Outlines are simple and are very underrated. Keeping just the outline can seem really stylish and is a great way to get into tattoos. Outlines are done before tattoo artists fill in the tattoo with colour or finish it.

Scarification

Scarification is a body modification that involves cutting and scratching designs and letters into the flesh to make permanent designs on the body.