American Traditional (Old School)

The classic tattoo style, American Traditional or Western Traditional is defined by bold outlines and a limited colour palette of mainly primary colours. You would normally correlate this style with nautical imagery, pinup female figures, roses, hearts, daggers and skulls.

Artist: Sam Clark (QLD)
Neo Traditional

A reinterpretation of American Traditional. Compared to American Traditional, Neo Traditional tattoos extends its colour range and blending, becoming more dimensional and brighter, influenced by modern equipment.

Neo Traditional shows the innovative nature of tattoo styles, but still adhering to the symbology and technique of American Traditional.

Artist: Fizz Ink (WA)
New School

New school tattoos are more cartoony and fantasy based, influenced by graffiti and hip-hop. New school normally consists of vivid colours and exaggerated dimensions. New school tattoos go against the Traditional style but can still have old school imagery like nautical, owls, gypsies or animals.

New school is a popular style as the artist has no limit when it comes to experimenting, giving them an unlimited tool to turn their clients ideas into shape.

Japanese (Irezumi)

Originated from ancient Japanese tattooing techniques of tebori (hand carved), the Japanese style was popularised by the Yakuza, the Japanese criminal underworld. The Genre is known for large pieces covering the back, arms and legs. Typical imagery consists of koi fish, waves, lotus flowers, cherry blossoms, tigers, geishas and warriors.


One of the most oldest tattoo styles of traditional tattooing. Normally in black with distinct and intricate line work and connected patterns.

The style roots from the cultures of African, Polynesian, Maori, Incan, Egyptian, etc.


Originating from the Buddhist and Hindu culture, the sanskrit meaning of Mandala is circle, hence its circle-like designs. The circle is symbolism for perfection, eternity, unity and completeness. Mandela is versatile and can personify a number of meanings for the individual.

Mandala tattoos are often built from the centre of the circle outwards, giving the design a geometric floral look. Mandela designs are perfect for people who live deep, spiritual lives.


There is no limit to what font style to choose. Popular tattoo font styles include old English, constitutional type, handwritten lettering, paint splatters etc. One of the most important things when getting a lettering piece is the cleanliness of the word and every letter.

It is best to show examples of styles you like to your artist so they can create custom lettering rather than tracing a style you got form the internet.

Line Work

More of a method, line work is a very delicate and intricate style consisting of crisp lines, and no shading involved. This method can fall under numerous tattoo styles (mandela, geometry, tribal, etc.), or even mixed with other methods such as dot work.

Some other imagery associated with line work include animals, landscapes, floral, lacework etc.

Dot Work

Intricate designs normally done in black or grey using a stippling method where shading is replaced by dots. The designs are usually geometric, but it can really be used in almost anything (animals, skulls, flowers).

Some may recommend to go to an artist that uses a hand poking technique rather than a tattoo gun, but it will take longer. Regardless of the technique dot work tattoos generally take more time than a shaded tattoo.

Black and Grey

A genre that falls under a wide range of tattoo styles. Often depicting images realistically in black and shades of grey.


Realistic tattoos attempts to recreate real life images. Unlike traditional tattoo styles, it lacks bold outlines and instead uses shading to accurately achieve renditions in colour or black and white.


The most difficult and skilled style. Portraiture lies within the Realism genre. With immense detail and shading, the artist accurately recreate images of people in either colour or black and white.

Make sure you have a good, clear, detailed picture.


Watercolour tattoos are fairly new to the tattooing world. The watercolour tattoo style is normally composed of splatters, blurs and shades. The artist has free reign of colours, and can even be limited to just black and white.

The line work, saturation, design balance and positioning should be taken into consideration when it comes to how long the piece will keep its shape.


Sketch tattoos resemble unfinished art pieces or raw sketches. This is perfect for people who enjoy the free-form effortless look, sometimes mixed with contemporary graphic effects such as splatters, watercolour and trash style.


This tattoo style requires a high technical skill and a very steady hand. Delicate and intricate styles that follow a form of symmetry and pattern.

Normally black and white, but may be in colour, and/or incorporate dotwork.