17 Popular Tattoo Styles To Consider Before Entering a Studio | Freehand

17 Popular Tattoo Styles To Consider Before Entering a Studio

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We wanted to list some of the most appealing and popular tattoo styles and designs. And here we are with a list that will take you through different tattoo styles, their origins, and other things you’d want to know about them. We have curated a list of 17 different styles and an example for each. The style is just as important as the idea when it comes to tattoos. The right idea in the wrong style can end up looking awful if you are not careful. We believe that this guide will help you choose the right tattoo style for your upcoming ink. So, let’s cut to the chase and dive into the content!


Amazing Tattoo Styles:


1. Chicano

Chicano tattoo style is well engraved in the Mexican Revolution along with Los Angeles low-riders and Pachuco culture. The aesthetics in Chicano tattoos help capture deep life meanings beautifully. This enthralling tattoo style is wrapped up in the Chicano culture and uses fine lines and colors like black and grey. Typically these kind of tattoos have a realistic effect. 


2. Japanese

Traditional Japanese tattoos have evolved from tattoos that were only associated with criminality to tattoos that are symbolic of one’s personality. These tattoo designs mostly have a central theme — heroes, monsters, dragons, samurais, myths, and more. Japanese tattoos take a lot of time to finish and are usually quite expensive. Its common to see a lot of red and blue shades of colour used in these style of tattoos. 


3. Tribal

Tribal tattoos, as the name suggests, are primitive tattoo designs that encompass several indigenous traditions. Maori face tattoos, Aboriginal Dreamtime, Mayan and Aztec deities, Hawaiian kakau, Samoan animals, celtic crosses, and other ancient tattoo art make up the tribal tattoo pattern. These have simple patterns, geometric shapes, and repetitive figures. Tribal tattoos have started to become less common these days but don't let that put you off. The best idea with tattooing is to get something that YOU like and not what others like. 


4. Traditional

Traditional or old-school tattoos generally have bold black outlines and simple shading work. Tattoo artists use 2D images of motifs, patriotic symbols, lucky charms, strange elements, and people! These tattoos became popular back in the 20th century when electric tattooing machines were still surfacing in the market. Often inspired by sailors, traditional tattoos are used to mark achievements. If you are looking for a bold tattoo then you should consider this style.


5. Celtic

Celtic tattoo designs are one of the most popular designs in the tattoo industry. Ideal for honoring the Celtic ancestry, these tattoo designs turn out to be quite appealing. These stand out as they have a distinct look and feel. Inspired by the Celtic warriors who wore these tattoos to intimidate enemies, Celtic tattoo patterns often have knots, animals, and crosses.


6. Geometric

Geometric tattoos, as the name suggests, are precise tattoo designs that use mathematics. Fueled by the power of geometry, these tattoo designs can have rectangles, lines, crosses, fractals, and more — everything coming together to create something meaningful. These tattoo designs have repeating patterns and are not bound to be symmetrical. 


7. Realism

Realism, as the name suggests, is a tattoo style that is as accurate as possible. Realistic tattoos require massive attention and can often be one of the most challenging types of tattoos. They use fine lines, contrast, shading, proportions, asymmetry, and light to make the image look realistic. This design was created by Kateryna as a full arm sleeve. She is available to hire for tattoo idea help and composing your next realism tattoo sleeve. 


8. Watercolor

Contrary to what most people think, watercolor tattoo designs don’t require any extraordinary technique to get done. Indeed, these look different. But, that’s mostly because they need proper technique. After all, you are combining the art of traditional watercolor paintings and tattooing!  These tattoos have vivid colors and are spread across the skin — as ink spilled on a canvas. Check out this amazing design by one of our talented artists, Taya. They look especially good on lighter skin tones because the water colour effect is more visible. 


9. Blackwork

Deriving from the Tribal tradition, blackwork tattoo designs are quite common in the west. Although the design has been morphing incessantly, most blackwork tattoos will still have black ink and the use of empty space. Remember, blackwork and black & grey tattoos are not the same. Blackwork tattoos are often mixed with tattoo design styles like geometric and dotwork. Be careful if you are planning a blackwork tattoo though as they are known to be very painful due to the amount of time the needle is in your skin. Some peoples skin takes the ink worse than others though and this can increase the amount of time needed to complete the tattoo. Think of it in a similar way to painting a wall. Sometimes it needs two coats. 


10. Illustrative

Such tattoo designs are playful, colorful, and can probably land in a children’s book. Illustrative tattoo designs are feeling-driven designs that tattoo artists create with 2D drawings. These have solid black outlines and concrete elements. You can go for an already established drawing and use a loyal reproduction. However, we recommend getting an illustrative tattoo shaped by the artist’s imagination and style.


11. New school

Contesting the Old School tattoo patterns are New School tattoos that are known for crossing the limits. No more restrictive color palettes or flash walls. The tattoo artist is free to experiment with the design and introduce graffiti art or cartoons into the tattoo. Originating in the ‘70s, these new school tattoos have elements of shading, depth, and 3D effects.


12. Neotraditional

Neotraditional or New Traditional are tattoo patterns that focus on the natural shapes and gradients instead of the use of bright colors. Although neotraditional tattoos are inspired by Old School tattoo designs, you will find that these tattoos are generally cleaner than the latter. Neotraditional tattoos are popular for the artistic movements (Art Nouveau, Art Deco) involved in designing them. 


13. Dotwork

Indeed, all tattoos are made of dots that come together and create the ‘bigger picture.’ But, Dotwork isn’t just a work of dots. After all, a lot of thought goes into using dots of different sizes to reflect the artists’ ability to create depth and continuity. Tattoo designers rely on dot contrast, quantity, distance, size, and position to give the designs true meaning. This ankle tattoo from Jay is amazing. 


14. Sketch

Sketch tattoos often mimic hand-drawn animals, plants, and landscapes with overlapping lines and incomplete strokes. However, the shading on such tattoos is quite rough — with very little focus on being perceived as perfect. The focus of these tattoo designs is mostly on preserving the sketchy features through a natural process of creation. Sketch tattoos are more abstract by nature and this allows artists a little more room for error. 


15. Anime

Anime or cartoons are quite popular tattoo designs in 2022 as these give life to characters across video games, manga, and other animated creations. These tattoos are vivid and colorful and artists have to pay extra attention to managing proportions and character’s style. Use anime tattoos to preserve your childhood memories of Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, Death Note, Sailor Moon, and more. Looking for some amazing anime tattoo ideas? Check out this post


16. Lettering

One of the oldest tattoo styles, lettering focuses on the communication of written meaning. The challenge for tattoo artists still lies around the use of suitable typography. Such tattoos are an excellent choice for people that want to preserve memories, excerpts from poems, quotes from holy scriptures, and words from their loved ones. Fonts matter though and this is why we wrote a full guide on the best tattoo fonts. You should also consider custom hand lettering tattoo designs if you want to go the extra mile and get a fully unique tat. 


17. Minimalism

Minimalistic tattoos are quite a trend as these help people focus on the true meaning while eliminating everything else. Such tattoo designs are quick and inexpensive and can be inked in unusual places on the body. The tattoos follow the philosophy of simplification and mostly use black ink and fine lines. Minimal tattoos are one of the most popular styles in 2022 as they are less of a committment for the average person. They also cause less pain and are easier to hide than bigger tattoos. 


Final remarks!

The tattoo styles, designs, and patterns mentioned in the post aren’t the only patterns available in the market. One should remember that tattoo styles and genres keep evolving and so do people's demands. Hence, tattoo styles are never fixed. These change with time. So, which tattoo styles did you like the most? Let us know in the comments. Also, don’t forget to check out other informative posts in the blog!

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