A Beginners Guide to Tattoo Styles

A Beginners Guide to Tattoo Styles
10/10/2017 SarahB

From traditional to tribal there are a huge amount of tattoo styles out there and each artist has their specialty.

We all know that when getting a tattoo picking the right man or woman for the job is important so knowing what style you are after will help narrow the search down. Now, each artist will put their own spin on things and have their own style but here are the basics to get you started.


Lets start with my favourite shall we? Born from the sailors who started collecting ink on their long travels and journeys across the high seas to indigenous colonies. Tattoos with sailors can be traced back as far as the 1700s when Captain James Cook came across the Maori of the South Pacific, and his crew decided to get tattoos as “souvenirs” of their visit.[4] After that the connection between sailors at tattoos steadily increased. Look for bold lines and bright colours

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Over the years the style has evolved and new styles have emerged from it like Neo Traditional which holds the core features of traditional style like strong line work and colour but are more illustrative; there is often more detail and more shading.

We love traditional style tattoos and use traditional artists for all our artwork. Click here to check out our clothing.

Water Colour Tattoos

This style is rapidly growing in popularity. It pretty much does what it says on the tin; its watery colours that look as if they’ve been painted straight on to the body with a brush.


Most people know someone with a portrait of their dog or first born that looks a bit wonky. This is probably the trickiest style to master; black and grey or colour you can now find jaw droppingly realistic portraits of almost any celebrity, nature scene, anything you can imagine. Its more important than ever to really do your research and find a good artist for this style or you could end up with your sweet little girl looking like a goblin (trust me i’ve seen a few)

Tribal Tattoos

Ah tribal, so popular in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Most done back then were black squiggly lines with sharp points, rocked by the likes of Mike Tyson and Angelina Jolie, you were the coolest of the cool if you had a tribal tattoo. Nowadays tribal is actually split into many indigenous styles that are completely unique to their regions, with Polynesian blackwork becoming increasingly popular. Though all completely different and each entwined with their own meanings and stories they are almost all done with black intricate patterns.

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Tribal styles have also inspired Blackwork tattoos that take inspiration from ancient sacred geometry and dot work and combining it with more illustrative pieces; there is a huge amount of experimentation going on in this area of the industry and some of the work is incredibly impressive.

Also springing from this is another big trend in the industry and thats Mandala tattoos. These geometric flower tattoos are totally ‘aesthetic’. Mandalas originate from buddhism and often represent balance and harmony; as with many ‘tribal’ tattoos they traditionally have different meanings.

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Japanese Tattoos.

The traditional Japanese style originated during the Edo period (1603-1868) alongside ukiyo-e — woodblock prints that were hugely popular at the time. Featuring tattooed heroes from the Suikoden and mythological creatures like dragons, kirins, and phoenixes. They tell the story of Japans rich past.

Hope you found this at least a little bit interesting.

Theres so many more styles and sub styles out there, this is just grazing the surface but it will give you a good starting point when looking for what you want.

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