Tattoo artists preparing tools

Tattoo artists preparing tools ()

If you are thinking of getting ink done, one of the first questions to ask yourself is what type of tattoo you should get. Tattoos become a permanent part your body, your identity and your story. There are so many choices and sizes, it can be daunting to choose the right one. Here are some specific types of styles and designs to choose from.

Americana and neo-traditional. Americana tattoos consist of bold lines and classic primary colors, such as red, blue, yellow and green. These designs exploded in popularity with service members during World War II. Military insignias and unit crests, iconic red roses, Harley Davidson logos, daggers and skulls are examples of this type of design. On the other hand, neo-traditional tattoos twist Americana artwork by using non-conventional colors and a mash-up of abstract and classical designs.

Biomechanical. Biomechanical tattoos create the illusion that mechanical parts are a part of the human body, no matter where on the skin the tattoo is located. Skin tears to reveal mechanical parts underneath are a popular choice for this style.

New school. If you are a fan of the bright and whimsical, the new school type of tattoo may be something worth considering. Lively characters (think of your favorite cartoon or comic hero) and vivid colors are usually used in new school ink work.

Blackwork and black and grey. Although these designs are done using only black ink, the tattoos are striking in their intricate work and etching or engraving styles. Blackwork often features less shading and uses the boldness of the ink to highlight the artwork. Black and grey also uses only black ink but focuses more on shading to make the grey stand out in the design.

Kawaii. These tattoos are all about cute, cuddly and colorful subjects: Think fuzzy animals, cartoons, sparkles and hearts. Kawaii originated in Japan and the style is used outside of tattoos on things like apparel and decorations. In kanji, Kawaii translates to  “able to be loved, can/may love, lovable.”

Tribal. These tattoos are more than just impressive and intricate designs. In Polynesian, Maori and Hawaiian cultures, these tattoos tell a story about the history of the people and land. Centuries ago, tattoos were done by painstakingly hand-tapping the ink into the skin. Although most designs are done via machine today, some studios on the islands perform the traditional hand-tapped method.

Stick-and-poke or hand-poked. Similar to traditional tribal tattoos, stick-and-poke tattoos are done the old-fashioned way. A small, thin needle is inserted into ink and etched into the skin without using electric instruments. The resulting design is often more delicate and creates a hand-drawn effect. Stick-and-poke may be a good option for smaller tattoos.

Watercolor. These modern tattoos utilize brilliant color gradients to create a “painted” effect.

Portrait/realism. This kind of tattoo is just as the name describes; subjects typically involve people, animals and plants. 

Irezumi. The Irezumi tattoo is a traditional Japanese style that most often portrays mythical motifs from Japan. Traditional tattoos can still be done by hand using Nara ink.

Things to consider

What is the cost? The price depends on many different factors; but to put it bluntly, you get what you pay for. Do your homework and compare prices, read reviews and view photo galleries. Tattoos will likely be with you for the rest of your life. Quality tattoos are worth the money.

Where to put it and what size? Tattoos can be placed just about anywhere you want and can be as large or small as you desire. Just know the larger the tattoo, the longer it will take and the costlier it will be. You may want to consider factors such as the ease of covering it up for professional purposes, or maybe that your mom still doesn’t approve.

Aftercare is important. Follow the aftercare advice verbatim. Your newly inked skin will be bandaged to staunch any bleeding. Remove the bandage between one to three hours later and wash very gently with warm water and mild soap. Pat dry. DO NOT RUB OR SCRATCH. Let it air dry and apply a thin amount of aftercare ointment. If the studio didn’t provide any cream, Aquaphor or any light, unscented lotion would work. Do not use bandages after the initial one. Over the next 10 days or so, you’ll need to keep the area away from overexposure to the sun and water, which means no tanning, pools or baths (showers are okay).

Don’t scratch! As the skin begins to heal, the tattoo will start to scab over and itch something fierce. Whatever you do, do NOT pick or scratch. If you do, you can mess up your beautiful masterpiece or worse, cause it to become infected. We have found that when the itching becomes almost unbearable, putting on a small dab of aftercare ointment or lotion helps immensely. After a few days, the scabs will flake away, leaving your tattoo looking fabulous.

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Tamala Malerk is a writer and editor with Stars and Stripes Europe. She has been with SSE since April 2022 writing articles all about travel, lifestyle, community news, military life and more. In May 2022, she earned her Ph.D. in History and promises it is much more relevant to this job than one might think.

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