Etched into your skin, a tattoo is as personal as it is forever. To make sure your body art is worthy of its permanence, what you think and what you ink should be perfectly aligned. Qiraat Attar explores some tattoo styles that stand the test of time
“Wear your heart on your skin in this life.” ― Sylvia Plath
There are clothes and shoes, even makeup and hairdos, but there is nothing more personal, more enduring, and more revealing of your motivations and inspirations than a tattoo. Unlike more transient fads, tattoos become a part of you, almost like a branding that you wear on yourself, affirming your identity. While people have been wary of this particular art for not entirely unfounded reasons – they are permanent, there is considerable white-knuckling in pain, and a good tattoo can cost a pretty penny – this form has gathered a lot of steam over the years.
As much as tattoos are stylish, they could not be less about style if possible. Tattoos can mean a lot of different things. They could signify the memory of a dearly departed, a calendar date that means the world or words you live by. On the flip side, they could be whimsical and instantaneous – where you got something bec
There’s no dearth of press telling you exactly what tattoo to get, but according to us, there’s only one kind – that which you will cherish on your person forever, and discovering that idea is a journey for your lonesome. But that doesn’t mean we can’t nudge you in the right direction by suggesting styles that depict your idea in the most befitting way. So, whether it is your first tattoo or your seventh one, get set on your inspiration, and course through our suggestions to find the most alluring and artistic expressions on your skin.
As per the (un)convention
Psychedelic tattoos are an increasingly popular way to pay homage to the movement that began in the 1960s. They are characterized by bold, eye-catching colors and stunning, almost ominous motifs – skeletons, mushrooms, three-eyed creatures, endless outer space – almost like the universe in a snowglobe. Frequent use of spiral, repetition, even visual tricks makes most people do a double-take when they spot a psychedelic tattoo. Given their stunning display, they are often done on prominent regions of the body, such as the forearms or chest. If you have an adventurous personality with a penchant for the unexpected, this might be your style.
Surrealism or abstract tattoos
Surreal art is a choice for the brooding thinkers – they know the world isn’t as it seems, and they sketch that mystery on their skin. Surreal body art is characterized by blacks and greys and sometimes a splash of color, twisting the mundane into the unexpected, revealing a deeper meaning. They often feature motifs such as masks, staircases, split faces, or mirrored images, with as many different interpretations as there are admirers of your body art. If you enjoy layered messaging with easter eggs hidden in plain sight, look no further.
Anatomical and mechanical blend
Imagine seeing your femur bone etched on your skin instead of feeling it under or pretending your ball and socket joint was actually made of toothed gears and clock parts. Sounds freaky, right? These tattoos have become increasingly popular, with skilled artists creating accurate, realistic depictions of the inside of our body outside, highlighting our vulnerability, mortality, and sometimes our inexplicable need to blend our humanness with machinery as if we were undergoing our own industrial revolution. If you love the idea of mimicking the bicentennial man with a beating heart and some factory parts, you could get a blend of these styles on your person.
The appetizer tattoo styles
Some evergreen styles if you’re new to tattoos and would like to dip your toes in before you go all out with more complex designs later!
You don’t need us to tell you. This is a classic. Text tattoos are basically letters or numbers that hold unforgettable meaning – a noteworthy date, your child’s name, or a quote that held you and gave you strength in your darkest times. There is also ample room for experimentation, for you and your tattoo artist can figure out what font style will look best, if you want an outline of the words or completely filled in (which may hurt more), and the size. It can be a delicate scribble in casual penmanship or huge roaring letters emblazoned across your shoulders or biceps. Either way, it’s a surefire way to wear your word with pride.
There can be so many reasons to start off with a minimal tattoo – they hurt less, and you still sport a bare, uninked look, because they blend in instead of standing out. They trade heavy design for meaning and metaphor by keeping it uncomplicated, which means it might be easy enough for any tattoo artist (still, make sure you pick a good one!). Minimal tattoos can be delicate and feminine, like fernes, tendrils, and other patterns across wrists or ankles, or even a tribal symbol or one of your faith on your arms.
Even more inconspicuous is the micro tattoo. Given their size, people love to feature them on the backs of fingers or spread out across the collarbone. They can also be a great way to fill the negative space between larger, more ornate tattoos.
Try out a minimal or micro tattoo if you’re skeptical of body art, and you might just give yourself a tiny, beautiful symbol etched on your skin.
Straight edges, symmetrical, linear, and art measured from edge to corner – what’s not to like? Geometric tattoos are a godsend for those who want their tattoos precise and perfectly proportioned. People who like exactness to their art – a method to madness – will find resonance with this style. The look is sparse, with clear lines, angles, and sometimes an absence of color. Even when featured prominently, they look incredibly classy and convey determination, discipline, and sombre beauty, quite like neo-architecture. If you find free-spirited tattoo art uncharacteristic and prefer looking formal, this one is perfect as a subtle, understated style.
Playing with color
The next two styles, packed with flair and playfulness, are certainly not for the fainthearted. These sprawling tattoos will take up some massive real estate on your body, so be sure you’re ready to have a saga depicted across you.
Full body tattoo
This style is honestly more of a symphony of multiple styles – often flowing down the body in a splash of color and bold technique. Full body tattoos can either tell one cohesive story or just be pictorial depictions of short tales – famous singer Ed Sheeran’s body art accumulated lovingly across his body over the years. The most common full-body tattoos are those that either depict nature, such as rolling seas, blooming florals, dark jungles, or scenes from mythology – for instance, Medusa, Lord Shiva sitting in meditation, or archangel Michael’s triumph in battle.
There is nothing more vibrant than a watercolor tattoo – it’s like the festival of Holi yielding decadent blended colors on you. These tattoos are characterized by a silhouette or design set against the backdrop of riotous shades – pinks, purples, reds, and yellows abound. While the spread of ink may seem daunting, in reality, the watercolor tattoos need fewer punctures in your skin and hence are less painful than darker tattoos of the same size. As a result, these are much sought after on their own as well as a gorgeous backdrop for other, more rugged runes – a yin and yang on your person, blending hard lines with yielding hues.
Think before you ink
If you are getting text tattoos, make doubly sure it doesn’t have a spelling error, for that will be one hard mistake to erase. Additionally, every tattoo artist has a certain mastery and flair for a particular style, so pick your style first, and find the artist that is sure to create it perfectly.
Back in the olden days, when self-expression rules were rigid and tattoos were considered unprofessional, people were skeptical about hiring folks with tattoos, especially in customer-facing roles. Times have changed, though; if it’s not offensive or hurts sentiments, there is no reason why anyone should react with anything other than awe and marvel at your latest ink. Having said that, if you would like to hide it for personal reasons, a little foundation makeup can be a savior!
Lastly, we cannot stress enough the paramount importance of tattoo hygiene. While that is a whole other laundry list of instructions, you’d do great just following your tattooist’s instructions to the letter, and not skimping out on the aftercare. Getting a tattoo may inevitably sting, but the recovery from it doesn’t have to, so do your due diligence.
So when you do decide on your ink, just take a deep breath and settle in; when you are being handled by a skilled professional, you are in very good hands. It is no easy feat to wear your beliefs and artistic tastes boldly on your person for the world to see, but you’re over the hump of self-doubt to one of self-expression. That in itself deserves a cheer.
And if you, like most people, are afraid of the pain, think of it this way – the pain is but momentary, but a gorgeous tattoo is forever.