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10 Popular Tattoo Styles

10 Popular Tattoo Styles

Like any other art form, tattoos come in a wide variety of styles. They can be minimalistic or intricate, realistic or surreal, bold or delicate — the possibilities are endless. And whatever your aesthetic, there's a tattoo style suited to you. Discover 10 of the most popular options below.



In geometric tattoos, familiar shapes — like lines, triangles, squares, and circles — come together to form unique, eye-catching patterns.



Think of "illustrative" as an umbrella term for any designs that resemble drawings you'd find in a sketchbook. You can often sort illustrative tattoos into other — more specific — styles, like fine line, engraving, etching, and abstract expressionism.

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When it comes to minimalist tattoos, less is more. Artists who specialize in the style attempt to keep their designs as simple as possible.



Realism tattoos are some of the most difficult for artists to execute. The goal is to make the designs look true to life. Think of it as getting a photograph recreated right on your skin.



In lettering tattoos (aka text tattoos), the focus of the design is the font being used to spell out whatever word, phrase, or quote you're getting inked. Some artists use pre-existing fonts for their lettering pieces, while others use unique, self-designed fonts.

<p>Tribal (Polynesian)</p>

Tribal (Polynesian)

Thousands of years ago, ancient Polynesian tribes used tattoos to tell ancestral stories and celebrate sacred rituals. The style created by these tribes (now known as "tribal" tattoos) typically consists of bold, black lines that come together to form elaborate geometric patterns.

<p>Single Line</p>

Single Line

It can be helpful to think of single line tattoos as a combination of minimal and illustrative. Artists who specialize in this style draw complete designs using just one continuous line.

<p>Japanese (Irezumi)</p>

Japanese (Irezumi)

Traditional Japanese tattoos — aka "Irezumi" — originated thousands of years ago (some historians say as far back as 5000 BCE). They often depict meaningful images from Japanese culture and folklore, including dragons, peonies, waves, foo dogs, and koi fish.



Dotwork is a subcategory of illustrative style tattoos. It's a shading technique that creates a sense of movement and depth in designs by layering tiny, individual dots.


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