Tattoos are a lifetime decision, which is why it's important to ensure that you're choosing the right tattoo for you. Generally I recommend first visiting a site like Chopper Tattoo which has about 10,000 tattoos available to try out your idea and view others before you get inked. The cost is minimal and you may find the perfect idea or design for your next tattoo.
The only limit to the types of tattoo styles available is the creativity of the artist and how daring the person is about their canvas. From teardrop tattoos to full body art, there is really no limit to the types and number of tattoo styles available, and while it would be nice to place it into neat little categories, the reality is that as soon as every category has been covered, a new and creative artist will come up with a brand new tattoo design that will blow the previous categories out of the water.
That said, it’s possible to generally group some of the more obvious tattoo design styles into categories. Below are some of the more obvious tattoo styles currently available.
Types of Tattoo Designs
- Girly – We can all agree that “girly” definitely counts as a tattoo style, even though it’s a fairly broad category. It’s possible to also have different definitions for what makes a girly tattoo. However, something like a flower, a fairy, a butterfly – maybe even the lower back tattoos that have been dubbed tramp stamps should be considered girly tattoos as well. Regardless, because of the artistic style of many tattoo designs, girly has to be considered a category.
- Gangsta – On the flipside of girly, we have gangsta tattoos. Or gangsta tats if you want to be one of the cool kids. Although really, if you’re trying to be one of the cool kids, you’re probably not doing it right. Gangsta tattoos are going to be think like guns, bullets, brass knuckles, gang sign tattoos, and the classic teardrop tattoo. Individual gangs also have their own tattoo styles. The Yakuza, for example, cover their entire bodies with tattoo art.
- Biker – Biker can be considered another tattoo style. Although perhaps not, as biker tattoos tend to be fairly mainstream. Large tats of wives and girlfriends, skulls, fire, and swords could all be considered biker tattoos, but hearts with the word “mom” might also be considered a part of the biker style of tattoos.
- Words – Words, phrases, and foreign words (especially Chinese characters) are arguably all a type of tattoo style as well. Sometimes these phrases have meaning. Other times it might be something as simple as a song lyric, or a Chinese character for “peace.” Words are quickly becoming one of the more popular types of tattoo designs as more and more people focus on adding meaning to their skin, but it would be surprising if that trend lasts, since the original goal of tattoo designs was artistic expression.
- Meaningful Art – Like with words and phrases, art that is more meaningful for the person probably should be considered a category. Often the person brings in a rough sketch to a tattoo artist and has them draft a piece that comes as close as it can to meeting their vision. The art itself can be anything – from cherry blossoms to nuclear bombs. But because it’s all about meaning for the person getting the tattoo, it seems like it should be grouped under that category.
- Fun Tattoos – Finally there are fun tattoos – the types of tats that people get while drunk or because they want an inside joke on their body. Cartoon characters are a good example, as are faces of celebrities. Rarely do these have meaning or symbolism, nor are they completed for the art form. They’re added to the body to be fun and/or funny. They get their own category.
Clearly this is just a basic list, because broken down into further categories the number of tattoo styles would be tremendous. Yet most can probably be placed in one of the above categories. If any others come to mind, expect them to be added to this page in the future.