Understanding Tattoo Styles
At Sin on Skin we believe an artist should be comfortable and skilled in many styles of tattooing.
We can guarantee a lifelong addiction to our artwork and any of our artists will be more then happy to guide you on your path to tattoo perfection. Keep in mind when artists make creative suggestions it's for your benefit and that of your new artwork, so really listen to your artist. When they tell you an area is "not guaranteed" it's because that area has issues with shedding, color loss, loss of design and line blow out, making it impossible to guarantee a good heal. You may experience these issues within days of your tattoo being done or within the weeks that follow.
Portraits, Tribal/Polynesian style, Cover Up & Re Working, Celtic, Writing, Working with Scar Tissue (mastectomy patients, surgery scars, burned skin) Photo Realism, Old School, New School, Family Crests, Horror, Designing Sleeves & Socks, Black & Grey as well as full color. All can easily be done, but if your style isn't listed , then please tell us what you you're looking for. Each artist has a wide & varied range of experience & styles, allowing them to help you design & create your next masterpiece. We do have a large selection of flash designs available, but encourage clients to take the time to find ideas/styles they like so that we can help them create / fine tune their tattoo.
If you're unsure of who to book with just let us know your ideas or preferred styles so we can assign the perfect artist to create your artwork. Each independent artist guarantee's their own work, any touch ups are free from the artist that tattooed you. The only exceptions to this rule are listed under "Non Guaranteed Locations" which are done "AT YOUR OWN RISK" (see FAQ). If it was self induced damage to the tattoo, then there will be a fee for your touch up.
This is a modern style of art, it usually doesn’t have any type of outline or any real structure. It breaks away from the traditional representation of animals, people, and the world around us.
Fine line tattooing is one of the newer styles you’ll find in tattoo shops and has been achievable because of the improvements made with tattoo machines, inks, and needles. Artists today are able to add more detail and special effects to their artwork. Fine line is often used in portrait tattoos or to achieve a delicate look.
Body modification has been practiced for centuries. Groups on the Northwest Coast; such as the Haida, were no exception. The tattoos themselves, were indicative of status, spiritual devotion and decoration. For the Haida, body art and adornment were a means for individual expression, as well as their part of a social unit, or a lineage. Haida tattoos put a persons identity and spiritual connection on display through the use of crest figures and/or guardian spirits.
Memorial tattoos can be images representing a person’s life in some way. It may be a religious image, crosses, banners, praying hands, poems, flowers, or sometimes a portrait. Most want to incorporate items that had meaning or significance to the deceased and or their family. Often this type of tattoo is accompanied by lettering with the person’s name and dates of their birth and their death.
This style of tattooing is using shades of black and greys, colors can be used as well, to produce the cracked stone like quality throughout the tattoo. These tattoos tend to be more detailed and can really give a tattoo a very old and rustic feel. Stonework is usually produced with a finer line to really show off every little crack and chip in the tattoo.
A tattoo artist has to be extremely skilled in his field to be able to convey a person’s likeness onto another person skin. Some are meant to show love, admiration, loss or birth. Portraits are often created using fine line tattoo style. Choose your artist carefully, a photo realistic tattoo takes a high level of skill and talent you won't find an artist to do one at just any studio - be picky.
Surrealist / Horror
This style covers everything from Salvador Dali to Fantasy monsters and incoherent nightmares. Full of symbolic scenes, strange dream-like scenarios, humor (sometimes the humor is gleeful, impish or sometimes it can have a sarcastic or cruel twist). Using bizarre creatures and people to create continuity between the images, some are single images used to shock or catch your attention. It can also be known as "Lowbrow art" or "Pop Surrealism."
Stippling is creation of a pattern with varying solidity or shading using small dots or specks,
rather then using lines or solid areas.
This style represents a radical contemporary art style, it mimics the street style art you see all around you. You see it as letters, numbers or incredible works of art on sidewalks, walls, vehicles, etc.. Now you see it as a style for the skin.
This style of art has a fresh from the drawing board feel. Using sketch lines to create your tattoo. Nothing is perfect, sometimes lines do not touch or close.
This bold style stands out on it's own; with much of the work done in black and grey. The artist then uses red accents to really make a statement with this piece. Although some artists will use other colors, red is the true color of a Trash Polka style.
The style was introduced in Wurzburg, Germany at the Buena Vista Tattoo Club by Simone Plaff and Volko Merschky. The style resembles fine art collages; it combines realistic images with smears, smudges, sometimes words, and kinetic designs that generate a chaotic look to the piece. Trash Polka pieces are only done in red or black ink. According to Volko, "This style is a combination of “realism and trash; the nature and the abstract; technology and humanity; past, present, and future."
Check out examples of Trash Polka designs here.
Irezumi /Traditional Japanese
Asian themed tattoos frequently using Koi fish, cherry blossoms, Buddha, lotus, dragon’s, war dogs, samurai’s or geisha’s. Many of these are used in combination to tell a story as well as create a piece of timeless art. This type of tattoo is usually very detailed. This is basically a tattoo that will cover the whole body. The work is carefully planned out ahead of time before the work on any part of the body begins. This style seems to be more 2 dimensional or flat, almost like print on fabric.
These designs are made up of intricate knots. Celtic comes in many forms; knots, crosses, spirals, trinity knots, tree of life, and animal forms. This style of art represents the people from Gaelic, Welsh, and Breton folklore.
The link between tattooing in religion goes back to the Egyptians. They would tattoo the dead so that they would have relative information when they passed to the other side. The Christians would tattoo a cross under the hand on the wrist to identify themselves to be devout Christian and a true believer as opposed to Roman spies.
This type of work was handed down from multiple cultures including Native American, Micronesia, and Polynesian. In ancient times, they would be represent one as an accessory to a certain tribe, also express puberty, a milestone in life or marriage. American Indians form of tribal tattoo was meant to represent culture, ritual beliefs, spirits or nature. Hawaiian tribes carried tattoos as a form of identification, protection or mourning expressions. Many tribes used tattoos to show bravery. Tribal tattoos are usually black in color and are composed of solid geometric designs. Can also be done in a "stonework effect" or in color but black is the most common.
Usually represented by portraits or true to life scenes/landscapes that showcase the fine line detail of a photograph or painting.
Cartoon / Anime Tattoos
The style everyone remembers from the 90’s with it’s Tasmanian Devil inspired tattoos that too many people had. Now the cartoon inspired tattoo is making it’s comeback as clients look to relive their childhood. Hello Kitty, Auto bots, My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, maybe your favorite video game, you name it we’ve done it. Bold bright colors, fun and whimsical, as a stand alone piece or as part of an entire sleeve.
Polynesian, Samoan, Maori, & Tahitian
Each Polynesian island has it's own styles of tattooing making it a truly unique experience. Modern or traditional styles make up this style, using flowers, faces, figures, animals, and abstract shapes. Depending on style it may be bold, black abstract and figurative designs or fine line high detail , single needle outlines, designs that concentrates more on symbolism or overall design. Usually done with a tattoo machine or by wooden sticks, which is a traditional hand tapped tattoo. This style is used to express identity, personality, one's society status, hierarchy, and sexual maturity. Polynesian tribe tattoo styles symbolized traditions, legends and religious beliefs.
Maori art is from The indigenous people of New Zealand, known for their use of extensive body markings to represent cultural identity and status.
Samoan art is generally made up of the geometric patterns that are based on ancient designs, and often denote rank and status. The Samoan warrior's tattoo began at the waist and extended to just below the knee .
Lettering & Ambigrams
The use of lettering and fonts has always been a popular ink choice among clients. With so many different options out there, finding that perfect font is key. Some are hard to read when written out, so keep that in mind when choosing a font. Use a site that allows you to see your word or quote in the chosen font style to see if it's easily read and clear to the eye.
Also popular are Ambigrams. This is when you can incorporate two words together — a composite in one tattoo. When read upright it will be 1 word, then when flipped upside down it will read another. Not all words can work with this process.
Fine line work
Fine line work is something that' s been popping up more often. We consider fine-line work to be a more delicate style, almost feminine, with no room for error. It's a beautifully simplistic style, great for those who want a tattoo but may not want to commit to a larger piece.
Keep in mind, these fine line styles do not hold up as well over time. The thinner the line, the less chance you have of keeping it crisp.
This colorful style that stays away from black outlines or heavy lines; so there's no distraction from the softness this style creates in a piece. Water color is still considered a new style, it's been around for the last 5-10 years. To do a truly perfect watercolor piece, you need to have some black ink within the base of the tattoo so that the piece will hold up over time. On it's own, the softer colors can tend to fade out or soften a bit too much around the edges, making it harder to see or really show up on the skin.
When completed, it can resemble a painting more than a tattoo.
Black and Gray
This is when shading is heavily utilized. Black and gray work is typically used to create some type of 3-D effect without using color.
Highlights are often added using white. White ink can also be used to smooth out sharp transitions between the different shades.
This is when the black ink is diluted to lighten up the tint. Usually the black ink is diluted at different degrees to have a wide range of shading densities.
This is a machine like form of art that sometimes combines humans with machines. If you are familiar with HR Geiger’s artwork then you’ll be familiar with bio-mechanical artwork.
Colored tattoos can be done in vivid or subtle tones, depending on the effect the tattoo artist is trying to achieve.
Old School (American Traditional)
Old School (AKA. Old Skool or American Traditional) tattoos are usually images that are two-dimensional, bold colors using only a simple color palette and low intricacy/detail. Popular in the 1800's and are also referred to as nautical tattoos. These include mermaids, ships, anchors, pin ups, banners and sparrows. They consisted of bold, blue-black outlines, usually filled with solid red and green with rare additions of blue, yellow, brown and purple; with little or no shading. Norman Keith Collins, also known as “Sailor Jerry" is one of the most well known traditional tattoo artists. Thicker lines are used and the inspiration is typically nautical and military in theme. Using Eagles, anchors, swallows,ships, hearts and banners.
Neo Traditional or