Tattoo Styles

In the world of tattoos, there are many different design styles. Simply walking into a tattoo parlor does not work as easily as “I want a tattoo of a bird”.  Given the multi-talented artists across the country, especially in Richmond VA, a little more detail would be preferred from the customer to the artist.  These styles range from realistic to abstract.  The different styles do not just deal with the way a tattoo looks; most of the time the tattoo style represents a way of life or even an entire culture.  Today I will be taking you into the world of styles and their deeper meanings, this way if you are interested in getting a tattoo and aren’t quite sure what you are interested in, this will give you more options than you thought were possible.  Of course you might be limited to particular styles due to the expertise of an artist, but most artists who are professionally working in tattoo shops have a wide range of capability when it comes to the styles I will present to you. 




Traditional/Old School tattoos were the foundation of the tattoo movement in the U.S. This style was used by the Famous tattoo artist Ed Hardy.  Many know of this name through the clothing company and fragrances, but his initial notoriety stems from his tattoo artwork.  In general this style uses-but is not limited to-skulls, roses, knives, stars, swallows, gambling motifs and hearts.  Any tattoo artist, as long as they work at a tattoo parlor, should know this technique.  It embodies the simplicity of cartoonish-looking tattoos, while retaining the history of the art in the U.S. 



Contemporary tattoos are the wave of the future for tattoos.  This style gives the artist a free range to expression the deepest of emotions through their artwork.  Tattoo artists are indeed artists, as they wish to be unbound by straight-forward design.  Contemporary tattoos open up a wide range of freedom for the artist to break out their skills and use their creativity to create a true work of art.  The use of different “brush stroke” techniques and use of realistic shading and the use of multiple colors gives them this range of technique.  Contemporary can range from anything to Realistic landscapes to abstract animal portraits. Don’t be shy! These artists are yearning for some creativity in their artwork.  I promise you will notice a difference in their mood if you give them freedom to apply their personal style to a tattoo, rather than asking for an exact replica of a picture of what you want.



Japanese (Irezumi) style is a very common style used to create sleeve tattoos.  The word Irezumi is defined as the insertion of ink under the skin, permanent.  Basically the Japanese word for a tattoo.  This style is best used for sleeves because the design easily flows within itself.  Usually depicting a nature scene, this style exhibits the use of koi fish, tigers, flowers, samurai, water streams, trees, mountains, etc.  The tattoo style originated for decoration and spiritual purposes in the Japanese culture, but was later used by many gang members to show affiliation with their gang.  Now, tattoo shops are hard to find in Japan and if you have any tattoos, many places will not allow you to enter their establishment because the connection between tattoos and gang members.



Mauri-commonly known as Tribal tattoos-have been a popular use of style in the U.S.  Originating in New Zealand, their designs seem simple at first look, but are actually very intricate pieces of artwork.  The use of bold thick lines and repetition of the patterns give them the unique look of a tribal warrior.  The first artist to begin using this technique was the artist Ta Moko. He was known to personalize every tattoo to display and incorporate family lineage and personal history of residents in New Zealand. 


These are some of the most popular styles that most any tattoo artist should know how to draw.  Choosing the right style is important to the process of getting a tattoo.  As always, make sure to take your time and explore all of your options before getting a tattoo! A rushed or spontaneous decision can lead to dissatisfaction or even regret!

Have fun out there and support your local shops!

-Chris Crowe


First Interview: Taylor F.

For today’s post, I have interviewed a friend of mine about her tattoos.  The purpose of this post is to give others insight on why and how people get tattoos. I have come to realize that a lot of people get tattoos with deeper meaning than can be seen by the naked eye. This blog will take you undercover as a viewer of this blog and give you a first-hand look at the opinions, ideas, and thoughts of a person with tattoos.  


The Interview:

Q.  When did you first decide to get a tattoo?

A.  Seventeen.

Q. What attracted you to tattoos?

A.  Because they’re permanent, which makes the meaning permanent.  When you’re older you can be reminded of your influences of when you were younger.

Q.  Which area was the least painful of all of your tattoos?


A.  The neck, maybe because it was so small and a short session.

Q.  Would you consider getting a tattoo not covered up by a t-shirt?

A.  Yes, but it would have to be something very important/meaningful.

Q.  How do you feel about someone with tattoos not covered up by a t-shirt?

A.  They’re ballsy..

Q.  Would you mind telling me about the meaning of one of your tattoos?


A.  The birds are for my two grandmas who passed away, and third bird represents myself.

Q.  Any new tattoo ideas?


A.  I just got the lotus flower in February so I’m taking a little break, but I’m always playing around with quotes and lyrics that I would likely get.

Q.  Did you find the tattoo experience in any way, shape or form addictive?

A.  Yes, both for the exciting experience and also I’d like to add more body art, especially when I come up with a new idea, I just have to get it!

Q.  Do you plan on getting new tattoos in the future?

A.  I’m not against getting a new one, but most of mine have been impulsive, I see something I want and I get it… provided my money is right.  So once I find a new idea I probably will get it.

And there we have it, hope you enjoyed my first interview! There will be plenty more where that came from, as for now I hope you have taken interest in how other people feel about their own tattoos as well as other people’s tattoos!  Just remember to be open-minded and not to judge a book by its cover! 


-Chris Crowe

Good Morrow!

Hello mates! 

If there is any confusion about this blog topic it is quite simple. Coming from the suburbs D.C., I was not as accustomed to seeing tattoos on a regular basis.  Living in Richmond VA, I have been thrown into an area where tattoos are not only socially acceptable, but are quite a regular occurrence.

I have always been fascinated with this art form and began indulging into the culture myself.  I am a fourth year senior here at VCU, studying English with hopes of becoming a motivating teacher in high school.  A few of my teachers had visible tattoos at the school I attended so I was never dismayed to decide upon getting a tattoo myself.  I have two tattoos at the moment and have a few appointments in the upcoming months to continue my array body art. 

This blog will be focusing on local body art.  More specifically, individual’s personal tattoos (their meanings, their favorites, different styles, etc.)  Also I wish to include personal interviews with local tattoo artists both in shop and out of shop, as well as shop owners.  I wish to expand on their forthcomings of entering the tattoo business and culture.  What motivates them? What are their personal styles, specialties, etc. 

The purpose of posting this information to the digital world is to give people an idea of what the tattoo culture is like, rather than making assumptions about these people without deeper understanding.  On top of that, it will become a great resource in finding local tattoo artists who are interested in designing the style of tattoo you prefer to receive. 

The target audience for this blog would be anyone interested in getting a tattoo in town, or just anyone interested about the culture and meanings behind other local’s tattoos.  Feel free to post your own tattoos and favorite shops/artists around town! I look forward to any and all input on the subject and wish you all the best! Talk to you soon!

Your Friend,

Chris Crowe