Tattoo Styles


Internationally, there are many different tattoo styles as well as techniques.
In addition, there are tattoo artists who tattoo by hand using traditional techniques. These methods require a lot of experience in order to tattoo clean lines, even surfaces, and flawless color gradients. Some Asian master tattoo artists produce impressive tattoos using such techniques. Modern tattoo machines were developed over 100 years ago and have become firmly established due to many advantages, including: better tattoo quality, uniform stroke strength, and better hygiene. Due to the considerable variety, hybrids and continued development of existing styles, it’s impossible to describe all tattoo styles.
Nevertheless, an overview of the most important styles, categories and color schemes is presented below:

New School

New school is a continuation of old school tattoos, whereby anchors, skulls and ships get a colorful remake. New school tattoos are usually colorful, bright, almost comic-like tattoos, often without a particular meaning, mainly meant to be fun. New school tattoos are characterized by clear, thick outlines and clean, striking designs.

Traditional / Oldschool

Rational, usually quite colorful designs such as sail boats, sailor’s graves, pin-up girls, daggers and animal designs.


Asian, Japanese fantasy designs, for example dragons, warriors, wizards, witches, elves, gnomes, fairy-tail creatures, etc.

Asian, Japanese

Simply portrayed, mostly quite large motifs from Eastern mythology, such as Koi fish, lotus and cherry blossoms, dragons, dragon hunters, samurai, etc. done in Japanese suit style, with a dark background, often in the form of clouds, wind, and/or water.


As the name implies, these designs combine technical and organic designs. The brilliant designs of H.R Giger, which have inspired many-a-tattoo, are a good example of this style.


Tribals are patterns made up of black lines; shadowing can be used to impart depth. One can also depict animals, dragons and plants in tribal form.


Lettering tattoos are comprised of letters, often names or other words. A lettering tattoo can be comprised of a single letter, a sequence of letters, or even completed sentences.

Fauna (Animals)



Plant and flower designs.


Portraits. Animals, plants, etc., that are done to look as real as a photograph.


The word Chicano basically means “Mexican-American”, therefore these tattoos are often referred to as Mexican tattoos. The most common designs are happy or sad clown masks, together with elegant scripts or texts written in the old English Style. Designs focused on death, wealth, religious symbols, and portraits are a mainstay of the Chicano style.


Designs done with enormous detail and fine lines.


Maori tattoos originate in the traditions of the Maori Indians, the native people of New Zealand. In the Maori culture, tattooing was a clan ritual that designated brave warriors. Maori tattoos are mostly done in black.


Dot-work tattoos are comprised of a multitude of fine dots that form a design. Dot-work is most often used in tribals, lettering, and Maori tattoos.



Tattoos in the category horror are meant to be shocking or disturbing to the observer. Themes such as murder, suicide, torture, pain, monsters, witches, devils skulls or demons are among the most common in the category horror.


Religious tattoos are usually an expression of one’s beliefs. Images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, hands clasped in prayer, a crown of roses or the cross are among the most common religious tattoos.


Comic themes tend to be colorful and fun in nature, without a deep meaning. These are exemplified by such figures as Bart Simpson and Mickey Mouse.


Celtic tattoos are mostly comprised of interlinked woven motifs over a black background. Sometimes they are confused for tribals despite the fact that they have a different lineage.


Portrait tattoos are photo-realistic images. Common themes are pop stars, idols, figures from myths and sagas, saints, pets and family members.

color schemes

Black & Grey

Black and grey tattoos are comprised of black with grey shadowing. The tattoo styles Portrait and Realistic are often done in black and grey (black and white).


Tattoo styles such as tribal and Maori are most often done completely in black. The Blackwork color scheme doesn’t’ include any grey tones as with black and grey.


Color tattoos are made up of colored motifs. Color is used particularly often in the styles old school, new school, and realistic.