A visual guide for your first tattoo

Daisy Marshallon 8 March 2023
A flash sheet of traditional style tattoos

Too many tattoo styles to choose from? Let’s break it down.

In case you missed it, we recently put together a guide on getting your first tattoo, the do’s and don’ts, the general etiquette, how not to get ripped off etc.  

Now we’re here to help with the big decision; what style of tattoo should you get? The beauty of tattooing is that there are styles and designs to suit literally anyone. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common styles. 


The classic American tattoos. This style of tattooing is the most well-known and includes lots of bold black lines and bright colours. The imagery tends to get repeated across flash sheets, with artists putting their unique spin on an enduring classic. 


A cool twist on the traditional style. Even though the approach is similar to traditional tattoos, neo-traditional tattoos have more modern illustrations and are closer to realism. The polished details and broad colour palette are sure to make these tats stand out, while still nodding to the classics. 


Fine-line tattoos are very delicate and precise. They are definitely not as bold and intimidating as the other tattoo styles. Fine lines are great for first tattoos if you are nervous and don’t want to go too extreme as they can be subtle and low-key. 


This form of tattooing has a great deal of cultural significance in places like New Zealand and Polynesia, and would often be worn to mark a life milestone or rite of passage. Tribal tattoos became a fashion statement in the 90s, but it’s worth noting that there are often cultural implications that are worth considering before getting a tribal tattoo. 


Watercolour tattoos have no outline but instead focus on bursts of colour. These ambitious tattoos require a higher skill level, so do your research before choosing an artist. The vibrancy of the colour with the subtlety of the details is sure to enchant any who see it. 


Blackwork-style tattoos are inspired by original tribal tattoos and use solely black ink. Your tattoo will always draw attention to people as they’re usually full of interesting patterns.


Realism style sounds like the obvious – very realistic tattoos! It’s only a recent tattoo style, from the latter half of the 20th century and needs a very skilled artist due to the high levels of precision and detail. Everything you can imagine is possible to be drawn ranging from scenery to animals to people. A very flexible option for a tattoo!


Japanese style is also known as Irezumi. It’s a very old style of tattooing but despite that, it’s still been able to maintain its popularity. It consists of large images which use symbolism to express meaning along with creatures such as dragons.

It’s a great option for personal tattoos as each tattoo tells a story about Japan’s past. Again, be cautious of any cultural significance to the tattoos.

Black and grey

Black and grey tattoos use watered-down black ink to create the shades. This style of tattoo can depict basically any image. The extreme focus on shading means the tattoo may take time but it’s worth it as the impressive design will definitely net you some compliments.

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Daisy Marshallon 8 March 2023