Getting a tattoo is a serious decision. Choosing a fantastic design for your new tattoo usually brings a lot of stress. With so many great styles and designs at your disposal, you could feel overwhelmed.
Be it your first tattoo or the number one hundred, you have to spend time deciding if you do something small or something that occupies a good portion of your skin. We need to feel satisfied with the final result. So no matter what others suggest or think, that your tattoo looks great is important for it to be in line with yourself and your vision.
That said, it is also useful to know a little about the history of this art form and its different styles to find the right design.
You can ask your tattoo artist to make a design for you, create your own or work together to redefine it. One way or another, getting familiar with tattoo styles in the past and present can give you more information and help you make a decision with complete confidence.
By publishing this article, we hope to share some ideas on how to choose a design. We want to inform you so you can make the right decision when you’re ready for it.
The old school versus the new school: what I should know
In general terms, tattoo art is divided into two periods: the old school and the new school. Although evidence shows that tattoos have existed for thousands of years, many choose to define styles based on the history of modern western tattoo.
Traditional tattoo design style
This traditional period of tattoo art began around the beginning of the 20th century and is marked by the appearance of artists such as Norman Keith Collins, known as Sailor Jerry, Amund Dietzel, known as the “Master in Milwaukee” and Bert Grimm. It is also frequently associated with traditional Japanese tattoo, a practice that still exists today.
Western tattoos are characterized by simple, but suggestive, designs with bold black contours and solid colors of a limited palette. Some of the technology we have today was not as advanced or did not exist, so the tattoo artists then created designs that were within their possibilities of effective execution.
Old-school tattoo artists preferred designs such as mermaids, pin-up girls, anchors, and hearts, among others. This simplicity of old school tattoos is due in part to the stigma that surrounded this art and its contemporary association with sailors, criminals, and lower-class people.
This stigma, surely, deterred some great artists who had skills and were interested in experimenting with the medium. Fewer artists meant less experimentation, and tattoo art suffered a slowdown.
The old school style
Old-school design styles are still used in modern tattoos. Many people choose the aesthetic style because of its association with tradition, patriarchy, freedom, faith, and love. The style has become iconic and can have a deep meaning, making it a popular choice in our times.
Do not believe that you are limited to the designs created a century ago in this style. If you like simplicity and minimalism, you can take a look at the old school designs as an inspiration to express your idea.
New school tattoo design
While the old school style is aesthetically conservative, the new school tattoo designs represent a bold change from tradition. These designs can be complex and multifaceted shapes that combine colors and make use of gradients.
As the stigma surrounding tattoos dissipated over time and experimentation was encouraged, the industry began to experience great innovation. This evolution came hand in hand with a higher level of realism, since technology allowed artists to create designs that visually represent the world around them.
Some of the techniques that characterize the new tattoo school are shading, contrast, abstract interpretation and less use of bold and definitive contours. The style encourages novelty and self-expression.
If you love to experiment and have a good eye for details, this style can be a good way to represent your idea. You might even consider the idea of mixing elements of the two styles.
The traditional meets the modern
Although there is no specific movement that merges the two aesthetic styles, there is nothing that prevents you from expressing your idea with an aesthetic combination that merges different styles into a single design.
Depending on the idea, you can play with combinations of thick and bold contours typical of the old school and the combined or degraded colors of the new school. Keep looking for inspiration and examples of neo-traditional tattoos, and you’ll soon find the right design for you.
Current trends in tattoo design
We believe it is vital to find a design that suits your idea and personality, and the most important thing is to find something that you really like. While we don’t recommend following trends just because they are current, taking a look at modern tattoo trends can help you choose your design.
Right now, we see some exciting trends in the industry, the most notable being the blackwork style that involves dotwork and uses geometric shapes. Some other popular trends that we have noticed are Asian-inspired, realism, monochrome, illustrative designs and, of course, the neo-traditional style already mentioned above.