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

Abstract

Abstract tattoos are… well, abstract. In art, this is the concept of representing objects in ways the do not necessarily correspond to reality as we perceive it. Rather, it focuses on shapes, textures and colours to communicate the artist’s interpretation.

As such, when choosing your tattoo artist for an abstract tattoo, it is perhaps more important than ever that you vibe with their personal style and artistic expression. 

Biomechanical 

Biomechanical tattoos are typically done freehand. They are meant to make a person’s body part look like it has machinery and gadgetry peaking out from underneath the skin.

They draw on Cyberpunk traditions and ideas such as those found in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, evoking a perhaps not too far distant future when humans will walk around with different forms of augmentation.

In a more naturalistic trend, bio-organic tattooing is also increasing in popularity. It is the same concept as biomechanical, only with organic materials rather than machinery, often within the horror genre. 

By Cleytton Cassino at the Vivid Ink Birmingham studio

Black & Grey 

Black and grey tattooing is one of the most prevalent styles out there – and for good reason. Developed through jailhouse tattooing in the US, the style made its way outside the prison walls toward the late 1970s.

Artists have continued to develop the style into lifelike portraiture, nature scenes, animals, symbolism, you name it. The style is a classic and as it is not limited by subject matter, it speaks to a wide audience that knows that grey is anything but boring.

Blackwork

While black and grey incorporates a lot of different shades, blackwork sticks to the one. The style has really blossomed over the past decade, its intense contrast becoming more popular as tattoos become more and more accepted in mainstream society – almost a requirement for several groups. It is bold and uses solid planes of black ink to create striking shapes or stylistic symbols and motives. 

Chicano

Chicano tattooing is a genre within Black and Grey. They represent parts of culture among descendants of migrants from Mexico who worked their way through Texas and California, harrowed by racism and discrimination. Motives include religious symbolism, family, clowns, money, lowriders and guns, but also realistic portraits of loved ones and figures from the Mexican revolution. 

Ornamental dot- and lifework by Kay from the Birmingham studio

Dotwork

In dotwork tattooing, the artist uses tiny dots to create lines, shading, impactful gradients, or entire images and motives. Artists who work with sacred geometry often use the style to make the flower of life, vesica piscis, the Metatron cube, ornate mandalas or the Hamsa symmetrical hand. Dotwork can be incredibly rich and detailed, and the style’s popularity shows no sign of waning. 

To be continued…