Portrait Tattoos

All tattoos should be unique. Each and every single one brings together the life story, dreams, and preferences of the person whose skin they live on, and the countless hours of work, practice and ideas that have gone into perfecting the craft of the artist that put them there. But perhaps nothing is more unique than a portrait tattoo. 

Well, those of a singer, actor or sports star will have something in common. Although those can be beautiful tributes, those of people close to you that you love and that have impacted your life in such a way that you want to have one of their expressions immortalised (at least, for the longevity of your own body) on your skin, will truly be one of a kind.

Classic Elvis by Seb at Vivid Ink Stafford

Come a long way

Portrait tattoos can be absolutely stunning when done right. A beautiful homage to a life of art and excellency or to love and gratitude, artists take incredible pride in helping you bring that face to life. Portrait tattooing has come a long way over the past few years, as artists become more and more skilled in hyperrealism, creating near 3D effects using innovative shading techniques. 

In memory

Often, portrait tattoos serve as memorials. To honour someone’s memory by keeping them with you always is a beautiful gesture, both for yourself and for the others who knew and loved that person too. The emotional stakes with a tattoo like this are high. Artists know that and will always do their utmost to honour your memories and the life and character of the person. 

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia by Jo from Vivid Ink Sutton Coldfield

For this purpose, try and find a really good photo with a lot of contrast and that is clear. The more photos you bring the better your artist can get an understanding of the nuances of the person’s face but do go for one specific photo for the tattoo itself to be drawn from.

Celebrating life and art

Portrait tattoos can also remind us of what is truly important, as many people get images of their children’s chubby little cherub faces. Oh, and pets are included in this. Dogs and cats have portraits too. 

And if you are a die-hard supporter of a sports star or a super-fan of an artist, what better way to express your appreciation and what they, their achievements, and music have meant to you? Or maybe you want to honour the impact of an iconic movie character? 

One of the most challenging genres

Making a great portrait tattoo goes beyond applying specific techniques of shading, which nearly all tattoo styles do to some extent. The artist needs to take into consideration things like lighting, angles, contrasts of soft and hard, and keep the lining for the portrait not to look smudgy as it heals, but also hide it cleverly in places so that they do not look too harsh. 

Epic Brando by Johnny from Vivid Ink Walsall

Because of this, portrait tattoos are generally considered to be some of the most intense and challenging pieces, both when it comes to preparation and the actual inking, so take that into consideration when you consider how many hours you will need to save up for.

Your artist needs to constantly turn to their reference to make sure they fill in the stencil as an exact replica, as any small amount of shading in the wrong place could alter the delicate facial features. 

Who would you get a tattoo of?