The traditional style is known for its bold lines, bright colors, and iconic designs like roses, anchors, and gorgeous lady heads. With heavy hitters in the history of Traditional like Sailor Jerry, Don Ed Hardy, Bert Grimm, and Lyle Tuttle, this style of tattooing is one of the most well-known and beloved aesthetics within the tattoo community. They’re gorgeous from the get go, age beautifully, and are filled with the history of tattooing. You can’t really go wrong with a piece in this genre!
The watercolor style is currently in vogue. It’s in extremely high demand by the most recent generation of tattoo enthusiasts, who seem to be looking for something new to match the new millennium. It looks like what it sounds like, as if rendered with a brush dabbled in watery pastels. However, looks can be deceiving, while it’s easy to create this aesthetic when working with actual watercolors on paper or canvas, doing it with ink on the human body is no simple feat. Still, artists make all sorts of whimsical and poetic pieces using this innovative approach to tattooing.
New school is a tattooing style originating as early as the 1970s and influenced by some features of old school tattooing in the United States. The style is often characterized by the use of heavy outlines, vivid colors, and exaggerated depictions of the subject. New school also represents a transition towards openness in the sharing of techniques in tattooing.
The traditional Japanese style, aka Irezumi, originated during the Edo period (1603-1868) alongside ukiyo-e — woodblock prints that were hugely popular among the merchant class at the time. Because of this, the icons found in this time-tested genre of body art come from the country’s age-old folklore, featuring tattooed heroes from the Suikoden and mythological creatures like dragons, kirins, and phoenixes. In short, every tattoo done in this style tells a story about Japans rich past, and beyond their dramatic smoke and wave filled appearance, this is what makes Irezumi masterpieces so powerful.
A large variety of work can be called Illustrative, and that is because there are so many techniques and art movements that inspired it! From etching and engraving, to abstract expressionism, and even fine line calligraphy, this style is extremely versatile. Many artists who work in this style will blend their own aesthetic with it to create a whole new style of their own…but as long as their tattoos look like they could belong on a piece of paper or a canvas hanging up in gallery, you know it’s Illustrative!