What are the tattoo styles and what is their meaning? (2023)

What are the tattoo styles and what is their meaning? (1)

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A brief introduction to what the styles are and how they differ

There are many styles in the tattoo scene. Since you often just choose a pattern because you like it, we will help you sort the desired pattern or already sewn tattoo accordingly. We briefly and clearly present the most important styles:

Black Gray

Characteristicare dark contours with subtle shades. Thus, Black & Gray tattoos impress without any colors, because only black is used in the most diverse shades of gray. With timeless black and gray tattoos, sharp contrasts can be created as well as usually very smooth transitions. Black and gray tattoos are suitable for all skin types and also suit darker skin tones.


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Realistic tattoosyou often focus on people, animals, landscapes or various objects to create a detailed and deceptively real work of art. With a photo and the right artist, you can create a real work of art on your skin in honor of your idol, favorite pet or an amazing holiday landscape that will surely amaze you and everyone around you.

New School (New Traditional)

Intense, extreme, even exaggerated - this is the motto of New School Tattoos. They take inspiration from many different pop cultures, such as anime, manga, video games, and comic books. This style can be recognized by intense and preferably flashy colors such as neon or different shades of one tone, extreme 3D effects and wide borders. Many tattoos relate to personal meaning while the New School tattoo is more about character and creating a true work of art. The fun and joy of tattooing comes first here.

Old School (Traditional)

Old school tattoos are among the oldest styles and are characterized by patriotic symbolism. Hearts, daggers, guns, roses and ships are associated with the old school style. Many of these designs have their own unique and distinct meanings and for this very reason they are a popular choice of tattoos. The reason for the striking designs is mainly because the tattoo techniques of that time were very different from today's. The quality of the machinery and ink wasn't particularly high quality, the designs were simple and striking so they still look like something after a long time.


tribal tattoopracticed for many thousands of years. The origin can be traced to the indigenous people of Polynesia, Aborigines in Australia or Maori in New Zealand. The 90s can be recorded as the pinnacle of tattoo style. Tribal tattoos work with curved lines that frame the body and shape. This is because the black gives the tattoo a contrasting effect on the skin, making it look very strong. Today, tattoos usually ask for pure aesthetics, and individual body art comes to the fore.

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Black tattoothey are only pinched to pure black. They are characterized by graphic elements, simplified shapes and contrasting lines. Thus, Blackwork combines many different styles. In addition, they enjoy a wide range, thanks to which almost any design can be applied as a Blackwork Tattoo. So different are Blackwork Tattoos, so incredibly wide are your options. That's why we offer you in our detailed blog posts an overview of the styles and tasks that fall under Blackwork. Unlike other styles, Blackwork is extremely durable and therefore fits perfectlycover-ups.


Like watercolors on paper, these types of tattoos seem to exude a certain lightness. Loose brush work, interweaving of colors and subtle color accents:Watercolor tattoothey are truly works of art under the skin that are also very unique. The trend is inspired by watercolor painting, which dates back to the 9th century. The style is a modern interpretation of colorful tattoos and thus keeps up with the times. Watercolor tattoos differ from other tattoos only in shading and coloring. Color gradation shows smooth transitions, often without any contours. However, it doesn't have to be colorful at all, because black watercolor tattoos look extremely stylish.


Dotworkis a new trend entering the world of tattooing, describing a unique tattooing technique that has recently gained popularity. Dotwork embroidered tattoos do not describe patterns, but rather their shading with dots of various sizes and intensity. This style is especially suitable for detailed patterns, ornaments and mandalas.

Because the dotwork is stitched one dot at a time, some tattoo artists put their tattoo machine down because it's not the best tool when it comes to these tattoos. Some artists are even convinced that the so-called "hand poking" allows for more accurate work in this case.

Thin line

They look great, are accurately engraved and celebrate their return today.Subtle tattoosthese are usually seen as small and self-contained patterns, but all Fineline graphics can also be created over large areas. The best shades of gray are possible in this style. Together with the subtle and monochromatic colors, the tattoos look extremely elegant and delicate on the skin.


As a single track or even as part of a large pattern, letterstattoohas a very deep meaning for many. A life motto, date of birth or an inspiring word are popular motifs for a very individual letter tattoo. Many such letters give courage, motivation and strength, or bring to mind a particularly emotional moment in life and memories associated with it.

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Nightmare Polka

Consisting of wild collages of realistic patterns combined with doodles, geometric signs and lettering to create an almost chaotic look,Trash polk tattoothey are only tattooed with black and red ink. This type of tattoo was created by Simone Pfaff and Volko Merschky, two Germans from Würzburg. The emphasis is on the contrast between the details of realistic tattoos and simple graphic elements, black and red colors and large and small patterns.


In the 1950s, a new style of gang-related tattoos erupted in the Hispanic community of California prisons. Since the means available to create a tattoo behind bars were not the best and tattooing was actually illegal, a style evolved that was done exclusively in black and gray ink.Chicano tattooscan represent multiple items. From family and neighborhood to culture, emotions and memories. Most of them are realistic portraits, such as sugar skulls, religious, realistic or cultural themes, gang symbols or writing.

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Based on geometric shapes such as rectangles, circles and simple strokes, it revives a tattoo style that is totally in vogue today. Entire patterns are removed or supplemented with these main functions. TheGeometric stylecan be easily combined with other tattoo styles. Because often the most diverse shapes are combined and played with colors. The concepts are complex and in most cases are related to spiritual and religious beliefs. You can find an overview in our extensive blog post, a guide to the most popular patterns and what they mean to you.


Mainly with motifs such as dragons, tigers, fish or cherry blossoms, often colorfulJapanese tattooshave a long, traditional history behind them. The Tebori technique was practiced in the 18th and 19th centuries and is still used by several masters of the art as a traditional method.


What are the tattoo styles and what is their meaning? (16)

about the author


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Lara loves art in all its forms and lives a creative life with minimalist tattoos and Instagram drawings. At the moment, the needle is busy with the first designs with blood, sweat and ink. Her heart beats especially for Realistic and Fineline tattoo styles. After a year of volunteering in psychiatry, she has been blogging since 2019 and is studying Marketing & Digital Media at the FOM University of Economics and Management in Dusseldorf.


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