Realism Tattoos

Realism Tattoos

One style that has come leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades is that of Realism. Now, Realism is a general term from the art world, and it means, not surprisingly, that the artist tries to represent the subject truthfully, and make it as accurate a representation of real-life imagery as possible.

Family Portrait
By Mario from Vivid Ink Sutton

Realism in art

As far as art schools go, it superseded the somewhat bombastic and beautifying Romanticism of the late 18th and early 19th-century. As with all paradigm-shifts, it was a rejection of and a juxtaposition to that which had preceded it, and all details should be reproduced as realistically as possible. Of course, it was followed in turn by the Impressionism. This placed an emphasis on freely brushed colours, rather than lines and contours, to create, yup, you guessed it, an impression of that which the artist sees, rather than a photorealistic representation.

Style to showcase skill

But back to realism and its application to tattooing. Realistic tattoos require a great deal of attention to detail, time, and most importantly, technique. It grew as a style in America when machines got better, techniques improved, and artists were eager to showcase their growing set of skills with a needle.

Black Panther
Incredible Black Panther by Alan at Vivid Ink Birmingham

The two basic styles within realism are colour realism and Black and Grey. The latter will create an effect similar to a black-and-white photo, and with a skilled artist it can take on nearly 3D-like qualities. All the focus can go on the shading and technique, rather than the constant calibration of colours, which, if we are talking realism, also needs to live up to the challenge set by the genre.

Colour realism adds a whole range of different requirements. And, it will most likely take longer as the artist needs to change the ink and needle much more often than if working in greyscale. 

For these tattoos, needles of different sizes will be used interchangeably, and fine lines, contrast, shading are all utilised to create as life-like an expression as possible. 

What could I get?

As we recently covered on the blog, portrait tattoos are an incredibly popular genre within realism. So are various themed sleeves, maybe on the Avengers, Las Vegas with a roulette spin and slot machines, or how about a nature-themed leg with squirrels and acorns, hummingbirds with frangipanis, or turtles with little sea anemones? Or a whole family of Nemos, or just a really, really cool lion? Replicas of classical art pieces look stunning with the right technique, and so do landscapes or scenes recreated from photographs.

Lion Tattoo
Lion by Luke from Vivid Ink Lichfield

Basically, the sky is the limit when dreaming up your realism tattoo. However, choosing an artist that specialises in the genre is of utmost importance. As you can see from this small selection on this page, Vivid Ink has a multitude of crazy-talented artist who totally dominate when it comes to realistic-looking pieces that will stand the test of time. 


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