Do you think of anchors, of roses or of skulls? While these traditional images are still available, you will be pleasantly surprised at the variety you will find today.
There are two basic types of tattoos: Flash, and custom. As you can imagine, “custom” means you have a design you like that you take in with you. “Flash” is the stock designs you see on the walls of the shop.
The main thing to remember is that you’re not required to choose from the selection of flash in a shop. You’re NOT limited to just an anchor, a rose or a skull. Remember however, that these smaller pieces of pre-priced flash are the bread & butter of many shops, since they are proportionately expensive (£75 for 20 minutes’ work, for example where an artist might charge £100 an hour for custom work). Also, the number of customers who lay out the big bucks for large, elaborate custom pieces is too small to keep a regular shop in business.
A few of the major styles of tattooing:
A style popularized by illustrator H.R. Giger, who designed the creature from the Alien movies. Bio-mechanical work usually involves an anatomical flesh intertwined with some technical drawings of machines. A close relative of this style involves just the biological look of flesh without the mechanical parts.
Black & Grey
Refers to the colours used, this style requires the artist to have advanced shading techniques for subtlety.
Beautiful, intricate knotwork of the Celts (a hard “k”, NOT a soft “c” like the basketball team). These are much harder for artists to do, and is best done by someone who specializes in it. Also usually done in just black ink.
Big, bold pieces of Oriental images (carp, clouds, dragons, etc.) based on the Ukiyo-e woodblock prints of 18th Century Edo-period Japan.
Note: It is fine to call this “Oriental” and not “Asian,” because it references an object and not a person.
Images taken from photos, best done by someone who can render realistic photographic images. Usually done in black and grey ink.
Traditional sailor tattoo style made famous by Jerry Collins in Honolulu
Usually bold simple lines, simple patterns. Almost always done with just black ink.
With a good artist working for you, you can get practically any image you’d like. Accomplished artists can render portraits, wildlife, psychedelic and bio-mechanical styles with impressive results. Your main challenge is to find the artist who can best do the design YOU want.