The world of tattoos has changed immensely over the last couple of decades. What used to be thought of as an alternative, underground community is now being embraced and welcomed into the mainstream as a beautiful art form- and rightfully so.
There are countless different styles of tattooing, all with unique and innovative artists who put their own spin on the traditional work. The beauty of this industry is that it’s constantly changing, and new styles are being developed all the time.
It can get a little dizzying to keep up with, especially if you’re new to the world of tattoos and are looking to get some ink. What’s the difference between American traditional and neo traditional? How can you tell a new school tattoo from a color realism one? That’s what we will be taking a look at today.
In this blog post, we’ll be going over the top 5 tattoo styles that you need to be aware of as a modern tattoo fan. We’ll look at how to identify them and why they’re so intriguing, to help you pick out the perfect tattoo style for your next project.
To start off with, we wanted to look at a style that our shop specializes in. American traditional is a timeless style of tattooing, and is instantly recognizable. It’s bright and vibrant, with simple yet intense linework and color choices.
You may recognize American traditional work as being in the style of ‘sailor tattoos’ or 1950s style art. American traditional tattoos began developing in the 1930s, but really shot to prominence in the 1950s.
A notable figure for this style is Sailor Jerry/Norman Collins, who popularized and perfected the American traditional style in Hawaii, during WW2. His work is still revered and studied to this very day.
Following on from the previous style, neo traditional tattoos are an elaboration on American traditional tattoos. They follow a lot of the same principles and still value vibrancy and bold lines.
A notable difference with neo traditional is the color palette. While American traditional tattoos use a lot of primary colors, neo traditional tattoos embrace more modern tones. They can be much more muted and pastel, or bold with jewel tones.
They also focus on a lot of different subject matters. They’re commonly based around animals, botanical themes or portraits, but it’s a very versatile style. Anything could theoretically be turned into a neo traditional tattoo, if you go to a good studio with artists who like the style.
Stepping away from the heavy colors for a moment, we couldn’t write this post without mentioning blackwork.
Blackwork, as the name might suggest, almost exclusively uses black ink in heavy doses to make impactful imagery. Occasionally, colors like white or red may be used for details too.
A newer trend to note in blackwork tattooing is blackout tattoos. More extreme tattoo fans are now opting to color in their limbs pure black, and get white tattoos over the top of them. It’s bold, intense and beautiful.
This is a style that’s been incredibly popular lately, and as a studio who specializes in black and grey realism, we can understand why. Realism artists have a knack for capturing their ideas in such a manner that the tattoos look like they could literally jump off of the person’s body.
Realism can be done in a number of ways and blended with a number of styles, but the most common ones are black and grey realism, greywash realism and color realism. There is no limit to what you can get as a realistic tattoo, you just need to make sure that you find a studio with realist artists to bring your dreams to life.
New school tattoos often provoke a lot of reactions in people- they either really like them, or they really don’t. New school tattoos are bright and vibrant, with exaggerated proportions, cartoonish features and a sense of fun and whimsy.
Animals and people are often drawn in new school designs, as they can look fantastic in this style. The colors used in new school are truly in a league of their own; think comic book colors, with added flair.
To sum up
As you can see, there is a plethora of beautiful styles and techniques that go into tattooing. Of course, this list is not exhaustive. There are plenty of other styles around, and we would encourage you to read about them. It’s absolutely fascinating to see where the industry has come, and we are excited to see where it goes in the future.
Whether you’re looking for something dainty and soft, something colorful and bold or something intense and dark, there will certainly be a style out there that suits your needs. Do you want a geometric linework design down your ribs? Perhaps you might want a powerful tribal leg sleeve? How about a thigh piece, woven together with intricate footwork flowers? The possibilities are truly endless.
If you’re looking into getting a tattoo and you’re not sure what type you’d like, we’d suggest doing some research and looking into the different styles beforehand. Social media can be great for this- why not create an inspiration board on Pinterest?
It’s important to be aware of both what you like and what you don’t like before meeting with your artist. Consultations are very important, and we’d recommend meeting with your artist to make sure that they understand your ideas fully and to answer any questions that you might have.
If you’re looking for a beautiful, custom tattoo, make sure to check out our studio. Here at the NYC Tattoo Shop, we’re dedicated to making sure that our clients have the best experience possible and that they come away with a stunning piece of art.