Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tattoo Designs

There are many types of tattoo designs, which can be sorted into major categories such as black and grey tattoos, biomechanical tattoos, new school tattoos, Japanese, tribal, Celtic, and many others.

Japanese Tattoo sleave - see profile on knink

Within these categories, the subject matter often follows various subjects, eg. Koi with Japanese tattooing, or cards, flames, dice, and swallows in New School Tattooing. Any image can be tattooed in the 'Japanese', 'New School' 'Tribal' or any of the other overall styles, however, so images which have been previously linked to a specific style are increasingly appearing in a wide range of styles. For example, you can fuse two or more styles eg 'New School Japanese' to create a new school koi or 'Tribal biomech' to recreate both tribal and biomechanical themes.

The way a tattoo artist chooses to use single styles or fusions of styles depends on their intention with the tattoo as well as their skill, and custom tattoos can also follow a unique signature style which belongs to the artist who designed or tattooed the image.

Whilst fusions and custom styles are widespread, many of the traditional tattoo methods adhere to strict principles concerning a tattoo's subject matter, positioning, and all aspects of how it's applied. Traditional Japanese tattoos and tribal tattoos, for instance follow very strict guidelines, as they are designed to serve many spiritual and social purposes.

The vivid colours of new school tattoos are contrasted by the style known as black and grey work, where shades of grey are used to build up depth and tone within the tattoo, making it a favourite style for many portrait specialists and forming beautifully toned final images. As with all styles, they're only as good as the artist who's applying them, and the quality of a portrait's depth and tonality really depend on the artist's talent and skill rather than what style they're using - black and grey work most closely resembles a fine pencil drawing in its final result with shades of black and greys blending smoothly, and in very fine detail.

Biomechanical tattoos fuse humanity with the world of the mechanical, and draw much inspiration from the work of the illustrator H.R Geiger, who's famous drawings and artwork of dark, surreal creatures and landscapes lend biomechanical tattoos their same feel. H.R Geiger was the man who created much of the artwork and creatures for films like Alien, and biomechanical tattoos often show torn flesh with what appears to be the 'machinery' of life exposed beneath. In recent years, biomechanical styles have fused with other styles to show many other things aside from machinery hidden beneath the human skin as artists and clients have come up with some amazing ideas using the biomechanical or 'biomech' style.

As one of the most popular styles of the last decade, tribal tattoos in the West bear some resemblance to the original tattoos of the tribal peoples from which the style’s name is drawn, but the methods and patterns are very different. Traditional tribal tattoos, practiced by tribes across the globe were generally hand-tapped using organic instruments and natural pigments whereas modern tribal designs are applied using a tattoo machine and synthetic inks. The placement and patterns of traditional tribal designs were generally governed by strict ritualistic meaning, even if they merely denoted geographical origins or family name. It wasn’t a matter of picking a design you like, shamen or other holy men often worked as the tattoo artist and ceremonies of initiation often were part of the tattooing process. Whilst the traditional tribal arts are still alive, Western tribal tattooing is now what people associate with the term ‘tribal ‘ and can be divided into ‘Polynesian’ , ‘Maori’ , and ‘Aztec’ designs for the most part. These patterns are increasingly mixed with other styles, and some amazing work results, but all too often, ‘tribal’ has become synonymous with tattoo flash and designs taken not for their meaning or individual value but simply as signs of a more modern ‘initiation’ into early adulthood, with little regard for the deeper aspects of the art. This said, some practitioners of tribal tattooing produce wonderfully intricate and beautiful art, and the style is kept alive by those who really engage with the deep meanings and mysteries surrounding this once-sacred practice.

No comments:

Post a Comment