15 Types of Tattoos: A Comprehensive Guide (2021 Updated)

Trying to find the right tattoo can be a bit overwhelming considering all the different types and styles. It is important for the tattoo design to fit your general aesthetics, but also to carry meaning and present some personal symbolism. Sure, you could always go for a trendy, mainstream design, but as soon as the trend dies out, your tattoo will lose the initial appeal as well.

So, if you’re still on a journey to find the perfect style and type of tattoo to fit your personal preferences, you’re in the right place. In the following paragraphs, we’ll go through a thorough insight into the different types of tattoos. This comprehensive guide will help you choose your favorite style and maybe even help you strike the perfect design decision. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

The Best Tattoo Styles To Fit Your Aesthetics and Preferences!

1. Black and Grey Tattoos

Let’s start with the basics; black and grey tattoos. These are the starting point for a lot of people who decide to get a tattoo. Black and grey tattoos are great because they fit every single tattoo style. The designs can appear realistic thanks to proper shading of the grey, or by watering down the black. Some tattoo artists even use negative space to emphasize a particular design or to give depth to the tattoo.

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2. Minimalistic Tattoos

These are the types of tattoos that can be small or large but overall have a simple design. The design can comprise only a few intertwined lines, for example, linework or heavy use of negative space to make the tattoo appear more intricate and bigger.

One of the main appeals of minimalistic tattoos is the fact that you can use any color for the design, without spending a lot of money, since the design is simple. However, black ink is the main choice for minimalistic tattoos in general.

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3. Linework or Line Art Tattoos

Linework tattoos are one of our favorites ones. These tattoos can be simple in design, but the linework is always mindblowing. The design often revolves around geometric shapes and intricate swirling effects. They look good wherever you place them and aren’t as intense as other tattoo designs.

Linework tattoos are truly a piece of art since the tattoo artists need to be not only imaginative but also have the skill to execute intricate lines using only their steady hands.

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4. Realistic Tattoos

Realistic tattoos can comprise various designs; they are not limited to only one set of illustrations and images tattooists usually do. However, realistic tattoos have a unique and characteristic visual appeal.

They make every design appear real, regardless of whether they portray a pet, a human, a flower, or even a fictional character. Whatever they depict, the design will appear alive. Such tattoos require a highly skilled tattooist and belong to the pricier, high-end tattoos.

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5. Portrait Tattoos

These tattoos often comprise a realistic illustration of people. Famous and influential personalities are often the main choice for a portrait tattoo. These tattoos can comprise an incredibly realistic black and grey outline of a person, or a detailed, hyper-realistic rendition of someone in color. Either way, portrait tattoos require a tattoo artist that is incredibly talented and experienced in doing portraiture.

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6. Surreal Tattoos

Surreal type of tattoos has always been popular not never in the sense that they’re mainstream or become omnipresent and boring. On the contrary, these tattoos are always interesting and unique.

The subject and imagery change from one design to the other, but the sense of artistry and the ‘unreal’ is always there. Just with the previous types of tattoos, the surreal design requires highly skilled tattooists as well.

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7. Abstract Tattoos

Since we mentioned surreal tattoos, we couldn’t help but think of abstract tattoos as well. Abstract tattoos as based on abstract art, or rather the presentation of abstract concepts through art.

Therefore, these tattoos can be pretty random and at first unplanned and illogical. However, the point of abstract tattoos is to look unique and random, without much thought or meaning to it. Abstract tattoos are extremely versatile and can fit any type of aesthetics or personal preferences.

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8. Geometric Tattoos

Inspired by a variety of shapes and designs, geometric tattoos can be anything, from simple to intricate. These tattoos often suit everyone, but the design needs to be in line with the placement of the tattoo.

A geometric tattoo can be inspired by some tribal tattoos or tribal symbols as well. The modern aesthetic of geometric tattoos, however, features a more mechanical, sharp, and bold but subtle appearance, which requires a skilled tattooist for proper execution.

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9. Americana Tattoos

Americana tattoos are believed to originate from the 18th century when they were worn by soldiers who traveled and fought overseas. The old-school American tattoos were long forgotten until a tattoo artist known as Sailor Jerry (Normal Collins) revoked the Americana style in the mind 1900s.

The Americana tattoos are known for their sleek, simple but clean design, where the colors are saturated and the designs feature roses, animals head, pin-up symbolism, and military-related signs.

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10. Japanese Tattoos

Japanese tattoos are probably the most famous type of tattoos. They’ve maintained their popularity over hundreds of years in the East, and for decades in the West. Their traditional appearance, as well as execution, makes each Japanese-style tattoo a true masterpiece.

Once associated with the mafia, samurai and the Japanese underground is nowadays a staple in the global tattoo community. The Japanese tattoos often feature traditional Japanese symbolism as well as bright, bold, and highly intricate designs.

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11. Hand-Poked Tattoos

Also known as stick-and-poke tattoos, hand-poked tattoos are known for the way they’re made. The traditional tattoos are executed using a tattoo pen machine and traditional ink. However, the hand-poked inks are done using an analog tattoo machine and a tattoo-grade needle.

These tattoos are generally less painful and cause less skin damage, but the final appearance is not standardized. For example, one hand-poked tattoo may appear like it was done by an amateur, like it was handmade, or like it was done by a machine. But, stick-and-poke tattoos are famous in the tattoo community, hence their appearance on this list.

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12. Words and Phrases Tattoos

The majority of tattoos feature some kind of imagery or illustration. However, the words and phrases tattoos only feature, well, words and phrases. They only contain letters, and sometimes numbers (in case of a date, for example).

These tattoos are often simple, subtle, and small. However, even though they may seem also simple to execute, they still require a highly skilled tattoo artist experienced in writing with a tattoo pen. Otherwise, a word or a phrase may appear inaccurate and off.

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13. Floral Tattoos

Floral tattoos are omnipresent in the tattoo community. They can have a range of different designs and meanings, depending on the cultural inspiration for the tattoo. Or, they can feature several different flowers, like lotus, roses, lavender, etc. Overall, floral tattoos do carry a certain aesthetic value that fits both the masculine and feminine interpretation, regardless of the flower or the design.

They are also rather versatile and can be easily incorporated with other styles of tattoos. Floral tattoos can also feature different elements and levels of complexity or can be monochrome or colorful.

Read More: 

40+ Best Sunflower Tattoo Design Ideas (Meaning and Inspirations)

20+ Lotus Flower Tattoo Design Ideas (Meaning and Inspirations)

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14. Continuous Line Contour Tattoos

These tattoos are generally considered to be linework tattoos. However, they do require a completely different technique. The whole tattoo design is completed in one single line, where the line serves as the outline drawing or the contour of the design.

During this linework, the tattoo machine never stops working, meaning it is continuously tattooing the skin. Line contour tattoos do not use shading and detailing; they are very simple in design but difficult in execution.

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15. UV or Glow-In-The-Dark Tattoos

The UV tattoos aren’t as mainstream as the aforementioned ones. However, they are characteristic of a certain cultural and tattoo scene. The UV tattoos became popular in the 1990s during the rave and club era and started receiving attention in the past few years for the same reason. The club and rave scene started exploring the UV tattoos which glow in the dark and provide exceptional effects under UV lights.

Many believe that UV tattoos are made using toxic or carcinogen inks. And, even though that was the case in the 90s, UV tattoos nowadays are made using specific bright pigments, without toxic and dangerous chemical ingredients.

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Final Thoughts

We are well aware that these 15types of tattoos are not the final number. There are so many other types and styles of tattoos one can come across. However, these were the standard types of tattoos accepted and valued by the tattoo communities around the world.

We hope that this comprehensive guide will help you find your favorite type and style of tattoo. For more information and inspiration regarding tattoo design make sure to check our other articles where we discuss each tattoo style in great detail.

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