A Complete List of Tattoo Styles: Beginner's Guide

Beginner's Guide

Choosing a tattoo can be pretty complicated, especially now that you can choose from dozens of styles. However, if you can figure out the tattoo styles you want, it will be much easier for the tattoo artist to ink it into your skin. 


Depending on your preferences, you can go from minimalist to realistic tattoos as long as you can endure the pain and have the budget. This post discusses the types of tattoo styles that are preferred by many tattooists. 


Different Tattoo Styles

The earliest tattoos can be traced back to 3,370 B.C. Early cultures and tribes used them as ornaments for distinguished people in their societies. Today, tattoos are used as artistic expression, as permanent cosmetics, as an indicator of group membership and even to hide unwanted scars. 


Below are some tattoo styles that tattoo shops and artists often offer. 


  • Traditional Tattoo Style

  • This old-school American style of tattooing was introduced in the U.S. during the 1800s and was commonly donned by sailors for good luck. Traditional style tattoos use thick and bold lines with a limited color palette. 


    Typical imagery for American Traditional Tattoo style includes roses, tigers, flowers, compasses, women's faces, skulls, and knives. 


  • Realism tattoo Style 

  • If you want a realistic and 3D-like image of a person, scenery, or object tattooed on your skin, you should get this tattoo. It's one of the most in-demand tattoo styles today because of how beautiful and detailed they can be. However, getting a realism tattoo is also quite expensive because only a few artists have mastered this style. 


  • Watercolor Tattoo Style

  • Watercolor is a popular style among young professionals and college students. This tattoo style takes inspiration from the watercolor technique in painting. Moreover, tattoo images often have fluid lines and vibrant colors. These tattoos are often inked on flat skin surfaces such as the arms and the legs. 


  • Tribal Tattoo Style

  • Tribal tattoos take inspiration from tribal arts from various parts of the world. They often depict various symbols that have existed for thousands of years. For example, shaded triangles represent power and strength, while sea turtles are meant for protection. Today, most tribal tattoos have black and sweeping lines that follow the body's muscles. 


  • New School Tattoo Style 

  • The school isn't so new anymore, despite the name. It became well-known during the bizarre late 1980s and early 1990s, but since its appeal has declined. This style is likely because it was a very contemporary work with a highly animated look modeled after popular entertainment from that era of American history. 


  • Neo Traditional Tattoo Style

  • Neo-traditional design is a development of traditional design, as the name suggests. It has the same prominent linework and intensely vivid colors as its predecessor, but it also has an illustration-like feel.

    These tattoos often have a more excellent color palette and a broader selection of themes, which is the fundamental distinction between them and traditional types.


  • Japanese Tattoo Style

  • The Japanese-style Irezumi is one of the tattoo styles that has kept its appeal for centuries since the Edo Period. These timeless works are still the subject of both conventional and modern tattoo designs. The genre's big imagery frequently covers the back, arms, and legs. They often depict Japanese folklore and mythological creatures like dragons and orc-like demons.  


  • Blackwork Tattoo Style

  • Blackwork is a relatively broad stylistic category, to put it mildly. More can be done with this adaptable and dramatic hue, which applies to nearly any body art made with only black ink. Looking through the portfolios of blackwork artists, you'll notice all different types of tattoos, from old holy geometry to contemporary abstract decorative patterns to really intricate pictorial pieces.


  • Illustrative Tattoo Style

  • Illustrative work encompasses a wide range of creations due to the numerous artistic trends and techniques that influenced it. This tattoo style is incredibly adaptable, from etching and engraving to abstract expressionism and even fine-line calligraphy. Therefore, there are many different ways to style illustrations because all they need to do is resemble something you see on paper or a painting.


  • Chicano Tattoo Style 

  • The Chicano style has had such a strong cultural impact that it has also influenced other styles rooted in the history of the Pachuco culture, the Mexican Revolution, and Los Angeles low-riders. The style was created by inmates who used limited resources to skillfully depict what they adored and missed about life outside prison walls. 


  • Portraiture Tattoo Style

  • As the name suggests, a portraiture tattoo features a portrait of a famous person or a loved one. It is a sub-set of the realism style because of how detailed and life-like the images are. Artists can create frighteningly accurate portraits of humans in color, black and grey, without using the traditional styles' black outlines.


    Which Tattoo Style is Most Prevalent?

    Traditional tattoo style is arguably the most popular type of tattoo in the world because it is affordable, and many artists are familiar with this technique. Some of the most requested designs of tattoos include butterflies, roses, dragons, snakes, flowers, and lions. 


    Script or lettering tattoos are also in demand because of their simplicity and flexibility. Furthermore, some people want to have a tattoo of a significant person's name or an inspiring quote on their bodies; regardless of what tattoo art styles you want to get, make sure that they start a tattoo consultation first. 



    There are various kinds of tattoo art styles that a tattoo artist can specialize in and put a personal spin on. Meanwhile, customers also have the opportunity to get the styles of tattoos they want as long as the tattoo shop has an artist that has mastered that style. 


    The ones discussed in this article are just some that made it to our tattoo styles list. Before getting a tattoo, discuss with your tattoo artist if they are confident enough to ink the design you requested. You can also look at their previous work to get an idea of the finished tattoo. Don’t forget to check out our tattoo shop in West Covina where we specialize in the most popular tattoo styles.

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