The 2022 Comprehensive Guide To (Almost) Every Style Of Tattoo – Part III

Minimalist 

Minimalist tattooing does not necessarily mean small, like a micro tattoo. This style is more driven by clean and simple lines, playing with the effects of negative space to bring attention to specific details of the motive. It focuses on removing as many non-essential elements as possible – just as the lifestyle of minimalism – to evoke an effect or response with a scaled back imagery. 

Neo Traditional

Neo Traditional, or Neotrad for short, tattooing draws inspiration from aesthetics such as art nouveau and traditional Japanese woodblock prints known as Ukiyo-e. Lush details and striking colour palettes are used to portray motives of females, flowers, and animals.

Often artists use colours that were not available when ‘traditional’ tattooing took off. While you could incorporate any colour you want, the more stylistically classic shades tend to revolve around muted forest greens, velvety reds and earthen bronze. 

While at first it may seem some way from Traditional or Old School tattooing, there are quite a few similarities in technique. Both styles use strong line work and solid colours. However, while Traditional will use one line width all the way through, Neotrad uses varying line widths, sometimes even up to four different ones. 

New School 

New School is rowdy, loud, and life-affirming with a smack-you-in-the-face palette of vivid and neon-like colours. The style makes use of heavy outlines (just as its predecessor) but also exaggerated depictions of its subject.

Rounded shapes and cartoonish concepts are also a particular forte of the genre, and it is influenced by a variety of pop cultural phenomena such as manga, comic books and gaming characters.

Old School tattoos by Sean from the Birmingham studio

Old School / American Traditional 

Ironically enough, the alphabetical order dictates that Old School should end up after both Neo Traditional and New School on this list, although it is, of course, the stepping stone for both those traditions. It is characterised by bold outlines, saturated primary colours, and was proliferated by names such as Sailor Jerry and Lyle Tuttle.

It remains one of the most popular styles of tattooing, immediately recognisable regardless of motive. Old School lends itself well to individual pieces that build up to a collection, and due to the generous colouring, they tend to last and stay vibrant longer than many other styles. 

Realism

By Daro from Vivid Ink Sutton

Realism tattoos have evolved massively over the past couple of decades, as artists have been able share techniques in live seminars as well as online. There are many different designs and concepts within the genre, but they all, as the name would imply, have in common that they depict the subject as close to its real-life image as possible, creating a photo-like image on the canvas.

Animals, nature scenes and landscapes, flora, scenes from movies, photographs, portraits, celebrities, historical figures, or even life-like depictions of fictional characters (in a sort of meta-realism) are all popular topics for those who specialise in realism tattooing, whether in black and grey or in colour, and those who collect them.