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Discovering Different Tattoo Styles: How to Find the Perfect One for You

Tattoos have long served as a powerful means of self-expression, allowing people to showcase their unique identities and personal stories. With a myriad of tattoo styles available, each one carries its own distinct meaning and aesthetic appeal. From traditional styles rooted in cultural significance to modern abstract designs, the world of tattooing offers a vast array of options for those seeking to adorn their bodies with ink.

Understanding the different tattoo styles is crucial when selecting a design that resonates with you. Whether you’re considering your first tattoo or looking to expand your existing collection, exploring tattoo styles is an important step in whatever ink you’re considering.

If you need assistance deciding what tattoo styles work best for you, contact us at The Honorable Society. We can help get your tattoo ideas off the ground and give you style advice.

Types of Tattoos and Their Features

We’ll go into detail about some of The Honorable Society’s specialties, then give you a solid list of different tattoo styles so you can further do your own research. This blog posts about tattoo styles regularly, so you can find more in depth information about many of these on our website.

traditional tattoo

Traditional Tattoos

Traditional tattoos are known for their bold lines, limited color palette, and iconic designs. These tattoos often feature classic symbols like anchors, hearts, and skulls. The style originated from sailors who would get inked with these designs as a way to commemorate their travels.

Realism Tattoos

Realism tattoos aim to replicate photographs or images with intricate detail. These tattoos require a skilled artist who can capture every nuance and shading to create a lifelike representation on the skin. From portraits of loved ones to realistic depictions of animals or objects, realism tattoos showcase the artist’s ability to bring a picture to life.

Realism Tattoo
watercolor tattoo

Watercolor Tattoos

Watercolor tattoos mimic the appearance of watercolor paintings with vibrant colors and abstract shapes. This style is characterized by its lack of black outlines, giving it a more fluid and ethereal look. Watercolor tattoos are popular among those seeking a more artistic and painterly approach to body art.

Fine Line Tattoos

Fine line tattoos involve creating intricate designs using thin, delicate lines. These tattoos are characterized by their elegant and detailed appearance, often featuring geometric patterns, botanical illustrations, and other small, intricate images. Fine line tattoos require a high level of skill and precision from the tattoo artist, as they must carefully navigate the thin lines to create a clean and precise design.

fine line tattoo styles

The Rest of The List

  • Abstract
  • Tribal
  • Neo Traditional
  • Japanese
  • New School
  • Blackwork
  • Dotwork
  • Geometric
  • Minimalist
  • Biomechanical
  • Trash Polka
  • Surrealism
  • Graffiti
  • Script/Lettering
  • Portraiture

A Deeper Dive Into Different Tattoo Styles

  • Japanese Irezumi tattoos are a popular style that often depict mythical creatures, nature scenes, or traditional symbols like koi fish or cherry blossoms. These tattoos are highly detailed and vibrant, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Japan. From fierce dragons to serene landscapes, Japanese tattoo designs can be breathtakingly beautiful.
  • Tribal tattoos draw inspiration from indigenous cultures worldwide and typically feature bold black lines and geometric patterns. These designs pay homage to ancient traditions and symbolize strength, courage, and connection to one’s roots. Whether it’s Maori-inspired tribal tattoos from New Zealand or Polynesian motifs from the Pacific Islands, each tribal tattoo carries its own unique meaning.
  • Dotwork tattoos have gained popularity in recent years for their intricate and mesmerizing designs. This style utilizes dots to create stunning visual effects, ranging from mandalas to pointillism masterpieces. Dotwork tattoos require precision and patience on the part of the tattoo artist but result in truly stunning works of art.
  • Minimalist tattoos have become increasingly popular among those seeking a more subtle and understated look. These tattoos focus on simplicity, using clean lines and minimal shading to create elegant designs. From delicate flowers to minimalist animal silhouettes, these tattoos make a statement with their simplicity.
  • Another emerging trend is geometric tattoo styles that incorporate intricate shapes and patterns into the design. Geometric tattoos can range from simple geometric shapes like triangles or squares to complex patterns that create optical illusions on the skin. These designs often require an experienced tattoo artist who specializes in this particular style.
  • Realism tattoos aim to replicate images as closely as possible on the skin, creating lifelike portraits or detailed representations of objects or scenes. Skilled tattoo artists use shading techniques and attention to detail to bring these realistic designs to life. Whether it’s a portrait of a loved one or a realistic depiction of an animal or flower, these tattoos showcase the artist’s talent and ability to capture realism.
  • Watercolor tattoos have gained popularity for their vibrant and artistic appearance. Inspired by watercolor paintings, these tattoos use soft washes of color and blending techniques to create a dreamy and ethereal effect on the skin. From delicate watercolor flowers to abstract splashes of color, these tattoos are truly unique and visually striking.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Tattoo Style

There are several factors to consider. It’s not just about picking something trendy or popular; it’s about finding a style that truly speaks to you. Let’s explore some key factors that can help guide your decision-making process.

Personal Preference

Your personal preference should be the driving force behind your choice of tattoo style. What imagery, symbols, or themes hold meaning for you? Do you prefer bold and vibrant designs or more delicate and intricate ones? Take the time to reflect on what resonates with you emotionally and visually. Remember, this tattoo will be a permanent part of your body, so it’s crucial to choose something that you genuinely love.

Size and Placement

Consider the size and placement of your tattoo carefully. Different types of tattoos may work better on certain body parts than others. For example, larger pieces with intricate details might be better suited for areas like the back or thigh, while smaller designs could work well on the wrist or ankle. Think about how the chosen style will complement your body shape and enhance its natural contours.

Researching Artists

Once you have an idea of the style you want, take some time to research artists who specialize in that particular style. Look at their portfolios to get a sense of their skill level and artistic vision. Pay attention to their ability to bring clients’ ideas to life effectively. Reading reviews from previous clients can also give you insight into their professionalism and customer satisfaction.

Lifestyle Considerations

It’s important to consider how this tattoo will fit into your lifestyle. If you have a career where visible tattoos may not be accepted, think about whether you’re comfortable having it in a more discreet location or if it would be better suited as a hidden piece altogether. Consider how aging might affect the visibility of your tattoo over time.


Think about how visible you want your tattoo to be. Are you comfortable with it being on display at all times, or would you prefer it to be easily concealable? This decision may depend on personal and cultural factors, as well as your own comfort level. Keep in mind that certain styles may lend themselves better to being hidden or showcased.

How to Choose a Tattoo Style That Works For You

Before you make a decision, it’s important to consider various factors. Now, let’s explore the different things you should think about.

Take inspiration from various sources

To find a tattoo style that speaks to you personally, it’s essential to seek inspiration from various sources. Art galleries can be a great place to explore different artistic styles and get ideas for your own tattoo. Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are treasure troves of tattoo inspiration, allowing you to browse through countless images shared by artists and enthusiasts alike.

Nature itself can also serve as an excellent source of inspiration. Whether it’s the intricate patterns on a butterfly’s wings or the vibrant colors of a sunset, nature offers endless possibilities for unique and meaningful tattoo designs.

Look at portfolios of different artists

Before settling on a specific tattoo style, take the time to look at portfolios of different artists. Each artist has their own unique style and specialty, so exploring their previous work will give you an idea of their skills and expertise.

By examining various portfolios, you’ll be able to identify artists who excel in the particular style you’re interested in. This step is crucial because different styles require different techniques and levels of mastery. You want an artist who not only understands your vision but also has experience executing tattoos in that specific style.

Thoroughly research each style’s meaning and symbolism

If you want your tattoo to have deeper significance beyond its aesthetic appeal, it’s important to thoroughly research each style’s meaning and symbolism. Many tattoo styles have historical or cultural associations that can add layers of meaning to your design.

For example, traditional Japanese tattoos often incorporate elements such as dragons or koi fish, which symbolize strength, courage, and transformation. On the other hand, geometric tattoos may represent balance or interconnectedness.

Take the time to understand what each symbol or motif represents in the context of the style you’re considering. This will ensure that your tattoo not only looks visually appealing but also holds personal significance.

Consider consulting with an experienced tattoo artist

Choosing a tattoo style can be overwhelming, especially if you’re unsure which one suits your personality and body type. In such cases, it’s beneficial to consult with an experienced tattoo artist who can guide you through the decision-making process.

Tattoo artists have a wealth of knowledge and expertise. They can provide valuable insights based on their years of experience working with clients and creating unique designs.

During a consultation, discuss your preferences, ideas, and any concerns you may have. The artist can offer suggestions based on your input and help narrow down the options to find a style that aligns with your vision.

Mixing Tattoo Styles For the Perfect Look

Combining different tattoo styles can result in a unique and personalized design that truly reflects your individuality. By experimenting with contrasting styles, you can create visually striking compositions that make a bold statement. However, it’s important to ensure that the different styles you choose complement each other aesthetically to achieve a cohesive overall look.

Seeking Advice From an Experienced Tattoo Artist

When considering mixing tattoo styles, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced tattoo artist who has expertise in blending various styles seamlessly. They can provide valuable insights on which combinations would work best for your desired design.

An experienced artist will understand how different techniques like linework, shading, dotwork, or fine lines can be incorporated into a patchwork of styles to create a cohesive piece of art. They will also guide you on choosing the right color palette for your mixed-style tattoo so that it harmonizes well together.

Creating Harmony Through Style Complementarity

To achieve the perfect look when combining different tattoo styles, it’s essential to ensure that they complement each other visually. Consider factors such as line thickness, shading techniques, and overall theme when selecting different styles for your design.

For instance, if you’re incorporating dotwork tattoos with patchwork elements into your design, make sure the dotwork and patchwork styles blend harmoniously. The overall look should be cohesive and not appear disjointed or mismatched.

Embracing Variety in Tattoo Styles

One of the advantages of mixing different tattoo styles is the ability to embrace a variety of artistic techniques. By combining different styles, you can create a tattoo that showcases your eclectic taste and personality.

For example, you could incorporate elements of trash polka, which combines realistic images with abstract brushstrokes and splatters of black ink. This style can be paired with fine line tattoos to add intricate details or colored ink for a vibrant touch. The possibilities are endless, allowing you to create a truly unique piece of art on your skin.

Cultural Considerations of Certain Styles

Tattoos come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. From traditional to minimalist, elaborate patterns to illustrative designs, there is a wide range of different tattoo styles to choose from. However, it’s important to recognize that some types of tattoos have deep cultural roots and carry specific meanings or symbolism tied to particular communities or traditions.

Sak Yant tattoo

Respect the Cultural Significance

Before getting inked with a particular style, it is crucial to respect and understand its cultural significance. Different cultures around the world have their own unique types of tattoos that hold deep meaning within their communities, such as Sak Yant tattoos like the one shown here.

Researching History and Context

To ensure appropriate representation and appreciation of cultural tattoo styles, it is essential to conduct thorough research on their history and context. Understanding the origins of these styles can provide valuable insights into their significance and help avoid any unintentional misinterpretation or appropriation. Take the time to learn about the traditions associated with the style you are interested in before making a decision.

Consulting Knowledgeable Artists

Consulting with tattoo artists who are knowledgeable about specific cultural tattoo styles can be immensely helpful. These artists have studied and honed their skills in creating authentic representations of various styles while respecting their cultural heritage. They can guide you through the process by sharing insights on traditional patterns, imagery, and techniques associated with different cultures.

Appreciating Traditional Styles

Traditional tattoo styles are deeply rooted in history and often showcase bold lines, vibrant colors, and intricate details. These styles have stood the test of time for a reason—they continue to captivate enthusiasts with their timeless appeal. Whether you’re drawn to tribal designs or old school Americana tattoos, appreciating traditional styles allows you to connect with rich artistic traditions passed down through generations.

Exploring Elaborate Patterns

For those seeking intricate and visually stunning designs, elaborate pattern-based tattoo styles offer a world of possibilities. From mandalas to geometric patterns, these styles require meticulous attention to detail and skillful execution. They can be inspired by various cultures and traditions, showcasing the artist’s ability to create mesmerizing symmetrical arrangements that are both aesthetically pleasing and meaningful.

Get an Artist’s Advice

Congratulations! You’ve made it through a comprehensive exploration of different tattoo styles, rules, and factors to consider. Now it’s time to get an artist’s advice. Remember, choosing the right tattoo style is crucial because it will be a permanent part of your body. Seek out a talented and experienced tattoo artist who specializes in the style you desire. They can guide you through the process, offer insights into design choices, and ensure that your vision becomes a reality.

To find the perfect artist for you, start by researching local tattoo shops and artists who have expertise in your preferred style. Look at their portfolios and social media to get a sense of their skill level and artistic style.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions or schedule consultations with different artists before making your decision. Remember, this is a collaboration between you and the artist, so finding someone who understands your vision is essential.

Ready For a Consultation?

If you’re ready to get your tattoo or just ready to get some advice about it, schedule a consultation with us at The Honorable Society. We pride ourselves on our ability to match you with an artist who has exactly the right skillset for your needs. Feel free to check out our work on our website or our Instagram, then request an appointment! We look forward to seeing you.

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