close up shot of tattoo artist holding a tattoo machine and doing work

8 Types of Tattoos to Know About (Before You Decide to Get One!)

I have two tattoos and planning to add more sometime soon. Although tattoos were sort of taboo, I’m glad that people are becoming more lenient about them. I have seen more people getting tattoos, ranging from small, minimalist ones to sleeves of wonderfully-drawn ink.

But tattoos are a life-long commitment. So if you’re planning to get tattoos, I suggest you do some research about them. Some imagery has symbolism, and you don’t want to get a tattoo that may not have the best meaning.

Still, the meanings are it’s pretty much up to you. But, if you’re curious, here are a few things you should know about this form of body art.

Tattoos and their Different Types

Cosmetic Tattoo

close up shot of woman getting lip color tattoo

A cosmetic tattoo, although not the same as the others on our list, follows the same procedure as a beautiful, conventional tattoo. Cosmetic tattoos are a means for individuals to utilize tattoo ink to give the impression that they are applying cosmetics all the time. With a license for cosmetic tattooing, a tattoo artist or a professional aesthetician may execute the procedure.

Cosmetic tattoos are popular among both men and women to improve their appearance. Add color to the brows for thicker-looking brows, permanent coloring on the cheeks or lips, or a defined line around the eyes to give the illusion of using eyeliner are all popular sites for tattoos. Cosmetic tattoos are a one-time investment that will last a lifetime. Microblading is a customized kind of cosmetic tattooing that promises bigger, better-defined brows.

Traditional Tattoo

photo of a man looking back at the camera with a full back tattoo

A traditional tattoo, also known as an American traditional tattoo, is one of the most common and popular tattoo styles. These tattoos have grown organically throughout time.

Traditional tattoos first gained popularity in the 1930s as a method for individuals to express their dissatisfaction with the constraints and restrictions of ordinary life. Traditional tattoos and the Americana style have undergone significant cultural and socioeconomic shifts and influenced their appearance and meaning since then.

For many individuals, the symbolism and significance given in such a little design is the major draw to getting this form of tattoo art. Traditional tattoo designs focus on a bigger significance for what seems to be a little motif.

These tattoos may be dedicated to loved ones, a memento to always come home to your origins, or a “you only live once” philosophy. The design of the tattoo, as well as its location and conjunction with other tattoos, may aid in conveying the traditional tattoo’s overall meaning and message.

torso shot of man with various chest tattoos

As the globe entered a lengthy struggle in the 1930s and beyond, numerous Americans embarked on a voyage and joined the Navy. It’s no surprise that many traditional tattoo styles are based on seafaring themes.

Ships, mermaids, sharks, and swallows are all popular traditional tattoo designs in the United States. Many nautical tattoos have their own significance and symbolism, much like other tattoos in this genre.

The coloring of this tattoo is one feature that distinguishes it from others. Heavy black lines and edges assist form the contour and outline of these tattoos. Tattoos are often large and comical. Red, yellow, blue, and green are the colors utilized. These large, bold tattoos are easy to perceive since they are straightforward, clear, and bold. Outline, style, and color all play a part in the legitimacy of a traditional American tattoo’s style and design.

two unknown models showing off various tattoos on legs and arms

Traditional tattoos are often modest, barely a few inches in length. Tattoos were used in the 1930s to transmit little messages about one’s narrative or goal. Small tattoos are still popular today, but many individuals have expanded on this tradition to incorporate bigger pieces.

A bigger picture may be created by combining the tiny tattoos. It’s fairly typical to get a full arm or leg inked in this way, resulting in a sleeve of different pictures put together to convey a greater tale.

In tattoo parlors, the classic style tattoo is quite frequent. This is due to the fact that the concept of a flash tattoo gained traction over time. Prominent tattoo artists would make their photos and tattoos available to the general public, enabling consumers to choose their preferred tattoo design.

The tattoo designs and artwork were created with the intention of being exhibited on the walls and ceilings of a tattoo shop to aid in choosing. The basic lines and strong color, as well as the universal and worldwide connotations linked with varied types and patterns, make this tattoo style ideal for a flash tattoo, or rapid tattoo.

Tribal Tattoos

two French Polynesian show off tribal tattoo and costume
angela Meier /

Most ancient cultures have a history of tribal tattooing. Tribal tattoos have cultural and symbolic values that may be carried over into the contemporary world. Tattoos have long been used to help express a message or have a wider significance in numerous civilizations. Aztec, Samoan, Indian, Hawaiian, Maori, and Polynesian civilizations are all known for this tattoo style.

This tattoo style combines lines and dots to create a unique design. To make patterns and lines, the lines and dots are joined together. These designs may vary from simple to quite complex, rivaling several of the most intricate geometric tattoos. Dots and lines are frequently repeated throughout the tattoo, reaching the whole length and width.

Black is usually utilized while obtaining a tribal tattoo. This simple, single-color tattoo’s exquisite blackwork, rather than strong and vivid colors, reveals more of the tattoo’s beauty. There are little black gradients or shadings, and the black is stark and solid. A Polynesian tattoo or a Maori tattoo is most often done in black.

shot of two tribal women with face tattoos

Tribal tattoos come in various sizes. Some individuals choose a small, contemporary tribal tattoo that just shows one component of the design. On a small area such as the ankle or wrist, this is simple to perform. Others like a big tribal tattoo that covers their full arm, back, or shoulder.

The bolder and more complicated the design may be, the greater the tattoo area accessible. Consider the location while choosing your tattoo style. When you have a complex tattoo in a tiny place, the ink might blend together, making the tattoo seem foggy and fuzzy.

Watercolor Tattoos

shot of woman and tattoo artist doing a watercolor tattoo

Watercolor tattoos have been one of the top trending tattoo patterns over the last five years. The watercolor tattoo is gorgeously decorated with free-flowing colors that appear to flow into one another, similar to how watercolors are applied to a canvas. The end result is a soft, lovely, and delicate tattoo that stands out from the more common big and bright traditional tattoos.

This type of tattoo has two main styles: one with a black base or one without. A black ink base that shapes and defines the tattoo subject is a huge plus. It contributes to the definition of an otherwise ethereal image. The black ink can also add dimension and contrast to a tattoo, helping to make the brilliant and flowing colors pop.

The black outlines, on the other hand, have their drawbacks. Some people believe the harsh black ink outlines detract from the watercolor image’s free-flowing intent. The subject is overly defined by black, which prevents the color and form from taking shape naturally.

The other watercolor tattoo style, on the other hand, does not use a black base. This means that the tattoo’s design is entirely based on the tattoo’s various colors. The image is formed by the colors and their shapes, which gives the watercolor a natural, organic appearance.

This will undoubtedly produce the desired effect, but there are some drawbacks. With no need for a defined shape, the free-flowing, bright colors can begin to blend, resulting in a muddy, abstract tattoo.

Furthermore, the colors may appear heavy handed and out of place without the black to aid outline the patterns and define the subject. Ultimately, whether you want a black outline or not is a matter of personal taste and how you want your tattoo to appear.

shot of model's legs with a watercolor tattoo walking on pebbled path

While a watercolor tattoo can include a variety of images and themes, natural elements are a popular choice. Butterflies, birds, and floral designs are among the most popular. The watercolor style complements these natural subjects perfectly, resulting in a soft, natural, and lovely look.

Any image, varying from an animal to a picture to a cartoon character, can be transformed to a watercolor style. These tattoos can be any size or shape, but a larger tattoo size, at least 6 inches, is usually recommended. This will give the colors plenty of space to form and blend together.

One of the most common complaints about this type of tattoo is its short lifespan. A tattoo, of course, is meant to last a lifetime, however, tattoo ink fades over time. It’s difficult to define the piece’s boundary and outline because most of these tattoos don’t use blackwork.

The fear is that without definite blackwork, the tattoo colors will blend together over time. Using a watercolor tattoo technique that includes a black outline to establish and outline the general subject and shape is one way to fight this.

Geometric Tattoos

shot of model holding a gun and showing geometric animal tattoo on forearm

Geometric tattoos are one of the most popular styles of tattooing right now. A dotwork tattoo is a geometric tattoo style in the technical sense. While this style is relatively new, the principle of creating a picture using geometric lines and forms is not.

Geometric shapes have been utilized to assist express concepts, ideas, and tales throughout ancient faiths and civilizations for a long time. Ancient mathematics and symbolism are well-known, and the famed Gordian Knot has even made an appearance in the tattoo industry. This is a popular tattoo design that has appeared in many variations in recent years.

Crisp, straight, and exact lines are some of the most important qualities of a geometric tattoo. To achieve the entire tattoo’s intended aim, these lines should be measured and plotted out ahead of time. This tattoo is not a good choice for folks who are getting their first tattoo because of the straight lines required. Under the careful eye of the tattoo artist, even the tiniest wiggle or leap might cause a variation in the line, changing the entire appearance and feel of the tattoo.

This tattoo is available in a variety of styles. Some individuals like a precise geometric tattoo with distinct beginning and ending points. These lines don’t have to be particularly thick, but they should be precise and crisp.

Others prefer a softer geometric tattoo with a faded effect all around the edges. Various shading methods around the edges are used to achieve this look. It’s still a geometric design or tattoo, but it’s softer and seems painted rather than printed.

aerial shot of woman showing tattoo on legs

Geometric tattoos may have a variety of themes. Some people prefer geometric lines, shapes, as well as angles in a repeat pattern or design. Others like images made out of geometric forms, including an animal or a face. In any case, both body art styles are included in the geometric tattoo style, which results in a stunning, one-of-a-kind tattoo effect.

It is common practice to have an all-black ink tattoo when getting a geometric tattoo. To make a geometric design stand out, the sharp lines and angles necessitate a big, bold color. If you don’t want a big bold black ink tattoo, consider a softer geometric tattoo with black and gray shading and different black gradients for a softer look.

The size of the tattoos varies. A small tattoo with a straightforward, repeating pattern may be ideal for some people. A minimalist tattoo for many people is a geometric line or shape. Others might prefer a full sleeve or a piece that covers the entire back.

The straight lines and repeating patterns make for an excellent tattoo that can be formed larger or smaller according to personal preference. Remember that if you want to use a regular pattern for your geometric tattoo, you can always combine or extend it in the future to keep your tattoo linked to a shape or figure.

Text-based Tattoos

model holding down lips to show "DEAD" tattoo

Text-based tattoos are yet another widely known tattoo that is both simple and powerful. These tattoos can be as simple as a single word or as complicated as a longer quote or phrase. A loved one, a book, a movie, or a religious text can all be used as inspiration for the text. Because it is flexible and can be customized for an individual, the text-based tattoo caters to a wide range of people.

Lettering is crucial when it comes to a text tattoo. Your lettering can be done in a variety of fonts. Fonts can be anything from a big, bold print to a feminine, airy script, depending on your text and the overall feel of the piece.

Text tattoos don’t have to be created in the Western alphabet; many text tattoos are done in Kanji, Hanji, Arabic, or Cyrillic. For a text-based tattoo, black ink is often utilized since it shows up best and lasts the longest. If you like, you may select a different color.

shot of unknown man with tattoo on arms

Text-based tattoos are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes and are often the best option for those looking for a micro-tattoo. This style of tattoo may be as simple as one phrase and only take up approximately an inch of skin. Text tattoos may also be a lengthy statement that spans a large portion of your body. Text-based tattoos may stand alone or be combined with a standard picture tattoo to form a compound tattoo.

Text tattoos may be placed wherever on the body due to their adaptability. Text-based tattoos are often seen on previously difficult-to-reach tattoo areas such as the ankles, wrists, and even the face. Remember that, like with every tattoo, you must choose a body part that can handle the size of your tattoo text.

It is critical to maintain full stillness when obtaining the tattoo. Many straight and detailed lines must be tattooed in order for letters and numerals to be legible. Any wiggles or moves might make the lines seem smudged or uneven. And, of course, double-check that everything is spelled properly after you approve your tattoo drawing prior to tattooing it in place permanently.

Realism Tattoos

image from Royal Tattoo Battle in Siberia with model showing full leg of realism tattoo

Realism tattoos are another trendy tattoo style that relates to technological development. These tattoos are hyper-realistic, like an image that has been pressed into the skin. Realism inks are a terrific method to have a true piece of art on your body instead of a stylized or conventional tattoo.

Portrait tattoos are a kind of realism ink. A tattoo artist may use a camera to picture a person, animal, or location and then transfer the picture to your body. A tattoo artist uses a variety of shading methods to effectively replicate the picture of your body’s features.

Image from Royal Tattoo Battle in Siberia showing model with full back realism tattoo
Denis Shevyakov /

Realism tattoos are available in color or black and white. For a realistic tattoo to appear in just monochromatic hues, conventional blackwork art and design are necessary. Shades of white ink are often utilized to enhance depth and accent, giving your work the appearance of a 3D tattoo. Color may increase the realistic effect of this style of tattoo, resulting in a stunning picture of your body.

When it comes to realistic tattoos, it’s crucial to keep in mind that the more room you have, the better. Getting all of the required details, accents, and shading into a little tattoo may be challenging. These tattoos are best suited to a broad area, like the arm, leg, or back, in order to fully use the image’s potential and intricacy. Realism tattoos are stunning, but they generally need several sessions to complete.

Japanese Tattoos

model showing full sleeve of Japanese tattoo

Tattoos from Japan are beautiful, detailed, and immediately identifiable. Japanese tattoos continue to grow in popularity year after year as one of the most popular tattoo types. Despite the fact that these tattoos are gorgeous and culturally important, they have lately gotten a poor connotation due to their alleged link to criminality.

These tattoos, on the other hand, have a unique beauty and purpose. To produce amazing imagery, these tattoos blend cultural significance with strong stylistic and precise artwork. Japanese tattoos are suitable for everybody and may be combined with other tattoos, even if they are of a distinctive style.

The meticulous and complex line work is a hallmark of a Japanese tattoo. Black ink is used to make lines, which may be thick or thin. To get the overall look, the lines should be straight, clean, and sharp. Certain motifs work better than others since line work is such an important component of Japanese tattoos.

A dragon is one of the most common tattoo designs in Japan. Dragons often have a long tail, detailed face, and grabbing talons, and roll up and curled up. The individual scales that go into making a dragon provide the ideal chance for precise line work.

The koi fish is an excellent choice for a Japanese tattoo. A koi fish has a lot of cultural significance and may symbolize a lot of things. A koi fish tattoo’s unique scales provide the ideal chance for the tattoo artist to show off their exquisite pattern-making skills.

In reality, a repeating fish scale design is often used as a spacer or background pattern in blackwork to help fill in bigger tattoo pieces. This is a terrific method to keep a theme consistent all through the tattoo while yet creating a culturally relevant and attractive design.

shot of unknown model's hand showing off Japanese dragon tattoo

In a Japanese tattoo style, the colors utilized are quite important. With blacks, reds, and whites, expect to see a lot of impacts. You may also use blues, greens, and purples. Colors are very important in Japanese tattoos. Each hue reflects a distinct aspect of the tale, allowing the tattoo artist to include more of his or her own narrative into the design.

In Japan, larger is usually better when it comes to tattoos. The tattoo artist can truly show off their skills with such a vast area for such an elaborate design. Furthermore, having more room enables the blackwork to flow more freely, allowing the tattoo to fade and age more gracefully.

When delicate lines are put too close together, the tattoo will age and become muddled. The back, arms, legs, and ribs are all excellent places for a Japanese-style tattoo. While this kind of tattoo may be used on the hands and feet, it’s recommended to keep the patterns and colors minimal.


There is no definite answer when it comes to tattoos, and choosing one is typically a matter of personal preference. We realize that if you’ve never had a tattoo before, the sheer amount of designs and styles to choose from might be intimidating.

Let’s take a deeper look at some of the most often asked questions concerning tattoos, so you can make an intelligent and well-informed choice.

When it comes to getting tattoos, where do they hurt the most?

image shows pink-haired woman grimacing while getting a tattoo

A tattoo is created by repeatedly probing your skin with an extremely thin needle and injecting ink under the epidermis. This entails a series of tiny injections or puncture incisions over your body. It’s vital to note that all tattoos hurt, but certain parts of the body are far more sensitive than others.

The ribs, face, hands, and tops of the feet are among the body’s most sensitive parts. Having a tattoo in these locations is the most painful. These regions are not recommended for those receiving their first tattoo since they tend to shift and wriggle, which might affect the result of your tattoo.

The back, arms, and legs (primarily) are not generally sensitive parts of the body. Because there are less pain receptors near to the surface in these regions, they are perfect for a tattoo. Furthermore, since certain parts of the body are bigger, they are ideal for large-scale, detailed tattoos.

The sort of tattoo you acquire will have an influence on how much pain you experience. Simple black lines are created using a single-needle tattoo machine. Shading and color have typically used numerous needles in the machine, resulting in a unique experience. The more color and shading you use in your tattoo, the more discomfort you’ll experience.

If you’re worried about the discomfort, speak to your tattooist ahead of time. Many tattoo artists use various breathing and coping methods to assist you to cope with the discomfort. While getting tattooed, chatting, sharing tales, or playing music might help to divert you from the discomfort and enable you to finish your tattoo.

What is the process of getting a tattoo?

Having a tattoo must not be taken lightly, and much consideration should be given to something that will remain on your body for the rest of your life. The first step in getting tattoos is to think about where you want it to go and what you want it to say. People often collaborate with tattoo artists and go through multiple variations of the tattoo to obtain the perfect picture.

You’ll next go to the tattoo shop. Your tattoo artist will need access to the region how you want the tattoo to be placed. Make certain you are dressed appropriately. Your artist must have previously set up and sterilized his or her workstation in preparation for your arrival.

The tattoo area will be completely washed, cleansed, and sanitized by your artist. The artist will use transfer paper to create a preliminary picture, or outline, of your design into place. This provides the artist with a rough sketch and outline to work with.

The tattooing may now commence. The tattoo artist will begin with the outline, which will be drawn in a heavy, black line. The artist will then go in and fill in the tattoo with the appropriate colors, based on the tattoo kind and style. The tattoo will then be shaded and highlighted until it is complete. The tattoo will be cleaned and preserved when it has been completed.

Anticipate your tattoo artist to provide you with detailed instructions on how to properly care for your ink at home. This involves washing the region with a light soap to keep it clean and avoid infection. While the tattoo is healing, it should be kept smooth with a special lotion and moisturizer. If your tattoo is exposed to the sun, your tattoo artist will advise you to use a particular sunscreen to protect it from fading.

What sorts of tattoo styles are there?

close up shot of tattoo artist holding tattoo machine while model gets tattoo

Tattoo styles vary from one another, just as they do from one piece of artwork to the next. It’s possible that what works for one individual will not work for another. You may have a conventional tattoo that follows the rules of the style, or you can get a hybrid tattoo that incorporates numerous design aspects into one piece.

Traditional tattooing, particularly in the Americana style, is what most people think of when they hear the term “tattoo.” With thick lines and vibrant colors, these tattoos are large and striking. The imagery and signs are often comical, yet they often have a deeper symbolic significance hidden underneath their plain form.

Consider a Japanese or geometric tattoo if you’re looking for something with greater intricacy. Intricate designs and large, lovely prints characterize these tattoo styles. Exact lines, which may also be seen in Japanese tattoos, are common in geometric tattoos.

Traditional patterns like dragons and koi fish are popular in this tattoo design. Large regions, like the arms, legs, or back, are preferable for geometric tattoos with elaborate motifs.

Still, if you want to stand out, try a realistic tattoo. These are available in color or black and have a realistic picture. You’ll need a lot of room for this style of tattoo, and you may plan to make numerous visits to the tattoo shop to finish it.

Is it proper to tip your tattoo artist?

Your tattoo artist not only is offering a service to you but also sharing his or her creative skill with you in a piece of artwork that you will treasure for the rest of your life. Tipping your tattoo artist is customary. The sum you tip should be determined by the size of your new tattoo, the time involved, and your overall pleasure with it.

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