Tattoos come in multiple different styles, many of which are available at our studios. There are many sources out there defining various different types of tattoos. They range from in-depth explanation of the styles of tattoos, to a quick glossary definition of each. Our Toronto tattoo shop has a style guide for potential clients to choose from the different tattoo styles that exist, which includes:
- Black and Grey / Geometric / Blackwork Tattoo Style
- Traditional or American Traditional and Neo-Traditional Tattoo Styles
- Realism and Portrait Tattoo Styles
- Watercolor Tattoo Style
- Tribal Tattoo Style
- Hand Poke (or Stick and Poke) along with Dotwork Tattoo Style
A quick google search will deliver a huge range of different tattoo types, tattoo style guides or tattoo art styles. Our aim is to showcase some of the styles for you, to enable you to differentiate between the various old and new styles available today. Before we begin, however, please see the following disclaimer:
- This is our definition of the various tattoo styles out there, and it has developed from talking to various artists who practice these styles.
- It is intended to serve the purpose of historic collection, as we will explain further below.
- When deciding on a tattoo for yourself, first figure out what you want and why you want it. For example, ask yourself what you love, what drives you, why you want to get permanent ink on your body. After that, choosing from the various styles of tattoos will come more easily.
We are happy to say that with the amazing tattoo artists we have, we can offer any of the following tattoo styles that we describe here. Our tattoo designs are always custom. You are more than welcome to bring your own design or have one of our talented tattoo specialists design a concept for you.
It’s completely acceptable to combine different styles of tattoos to come up with a design that is uniquely your own. We never compromise in quality, regardless of the style of tattoo you choose – whether it is mixed, black and grey, geometric, blackwork, hand poke, watercolor, tribal, or any of the other styles that exist.
Black and Grey / Geometric / Blackwork Tattoo Style
As the name indicates, Black and Grey tattoo style utilizes black ink and water. Heavier in shading, it differs from traditional tattoo styles as the lines may be more defined. Putting colors on a black and grey tattoo might take away the black and grey style definition, but really, it’s less about the style of tattoo than it is the love of tattoos.
Black and grey are often used to create realistic portraits, and some artists use gray washes or grey ink along with white for highlights. For stunning black and grey tattoos, check out our artist, Mikhail’s profile.
Alongside Black and Grey styles of tattooing, we should mention Blackwork style. While this is an umbrella term for many different styles, Blackwork tattoos as the name suggests are done using only black ink.
While we’re talking about Black and Grey and Blackwork tattoo styles, we should also mention geometric tattoos. Mikhail specializes in this type of tattoo style, which has increased in popularity with the relatively recent explosion of smart phones and tablets. Geometric tattoos, as with geometry, have existed for some time. Now, we are able to create stunning designs using straight and circular lines in hours, as opposed to what would have previously taken days to deliver by hand. Geometric tattoos require an expert hand that can transpose line perfection on skin. We are very proud to have one of the best Toronto tattoo artists in our shop, who does this repeatedly without fail.
Traditional or American Traditional and Neo-Traditional Tattoo Styles
The Traditional style of tattoos originated well back in the 1700s and was born out of sailors encountering native communities with tattoos. As with any style, it was practiced and further perfected for years. In fact, “Sailor Jerry” (after whom the deliciously strong rum was named) was referred to as the father of old-school, traditional-style tattoos. This style consists mostly of primary colors, and traditional imagery includes roses, knives and skulls.
Another similar style of tattooing is the Traditional Japanese style, which was made famous by the Yukuza (the Japanese underworld). Similarities in the two styles are evident through the black outlines, which are usually bold, and minimal shading with depictions of Japanese art.
Considering the many different tattoo styles available, many artists still embrace the traditional tattooing style and appreciate it for a true staple that made tattoos as popular as they are with today’s millennial generation.
It’s not completely accurate to say Neo-Traditional tattoos are an evolution of traditional style, even though it is common phrasing often used on prominent websites. It’s more correct to say the Neo-Traditional style of tattoos starts with the Traditional style of tattooing and adds more realism, colour, shading, and detail, to make it a Neo-Traditional tattoo.
This doesn’t mean that Traditional tattoo style is obsolete. Instead, it indicates there is yet another style of tattoos for people to choose from based on their preference. For a solid Neo-Traditional artist, look at some of the work Brooke, our Burlington studio artist, is doing to perfect her own Neo-Traditional style.
Realism and Portraits Tattoo Styles
Often linked to Black and Grey tattoos (realistic tattoos and portraits are delivered with or without color of course), Realism and Portrait tattoos have come to be more prominent in recent decades. Practiced by tattoo artists who pushed the boundaries of what can be done on living canvases, Realism strives to recreate images as they would appear in real life. Realism tattoos may not have the bold outlines that you would see in Traditional-style tattoos, but instead utilize shading and color contrasts to show the image.
Because of the nature of this style of tattooing, Portrait tattoos are therefore typically done in realism style, as a portrait of someone recreated as a tattoo and can be in color or black and grey. As with certain other tattoo styles realism can be particularly unforgiving, as the artist needs to have the ability to not only trace a good picture, but also to recreate it on human canvas. This sort of tattooing requires an expert tattoo artist. Sacrificing quality for price or convenience can end up disastrous. We highly recommend you find an experienced artist like Mikhail or Asia (who will only tattoo realism if they are 100% confident, and they can deliver it perfectly), or one of the other select few artists in the Greater Toronto Area who have done stunning portrait tattoos in the past.
Watercolor Tattoo Style
One of the most popular tattoo styles in recent years is, undoubtedly, watercolor tattoos. As the name indicates, this style of tattooing gives the effect of a watercolor painting on a human canvas. It may sound simple, but creating this effect requires a trained eye and a master artist to deliver a quality outcome. Our head artist, Asia, specializes in watercolor tattoos.
Tribal Tattoo Style
Tribal tattoos are the oldest known tattoo style, which is typically linked to indigenous body art. Tribes in Peru, Africa and other regions have been utilizing it for a long time and still practice this style within their tribes. There are many different kinds of tribal tattoos (such as Polynesian), and what’s common among them is that their elaborate patterns are typically done in black ink. One of our artists, Kristina, specializes in Tribal tattooing and has perfected the art during her long research and studying under some of the best artists in South East Asia.
Hand Poke (or Stick and Poke) and Dotwork Tattoo Style
When covering tribal tattoo styles, we have to touch on Hand Poke tattoos. Delivered by a needle dipped in ink, this tattoo style has seen resurgence as many tattoo lovers are looking to get back to more traditional origins of this art. Alongside Hand Poke tattoos, we have to cover Dotwork tattoos. Dotwork tattoos can be portraits, patterns or designs and are done entirely through dots.
There are many other tattoo styles out there that we don’t cover, including biomechanical or biomech tattoos (these are typically free handed tattoos based on your body’s flow with designs that are meant to be mechanical looking), bio-organic tattoos (tattoos with patterns that may be closer to organic things), horror tattoos (in color or black and grey), lettering, New School tattoos (comic / cartoonish designs usually with color), Surrealism (a mashup of styles depicting imaginary images), and Trash Polka (tattoos entirely of black and red color schemes which Asia is a huge fan of doing) just to name a few.
It’s less about the style of tattoo, because styles emerge, morph, blend and reinvent themselves. What’s more important is your love for tattoos and how they represent you. Your Style. Your Reason…