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Snake Tattoo

The Complete Guide to Tattoo Styles in Toronto

Tattoos and tattooing have been around for centuries. Many different tattoo styles have evolved throughout history in various parts of the world. Often, styles and motifs from the fine art world make their way into tattoo designs. Think Realism and Watercolor. This post is your complete guide to the various tattoo styles in Toronto from which you can choose.

What Are the Different Tattoo Styles?

There are numerous tattoo styles to choose from, such as seemingly simple Fine Line tattoos, traditional tattoos from Asia and the Americas, Realism (derived from the Renaissance art movement) and many other styles. Read on to learn more about different tattoo styles you can find at tattoo parlors in Toronto.

What Is a Traditional Tattoo?

Traditional Western tattoos are known for their bright primary colors, bold lines, and iconic 2D renderings from a list of familiar motifs. Subjects frequently include skulls, roses, daggers, hearts, nautical symbols, eagles, pin-up girls, flags, and other symbols and objects. The pioneers in the Traditional style - also known as Old School - include artists such as Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, Don Ed Hardy, and Lyle Tuttle. The tattoo style cultivated by these men and others is beloved in the tattoo community. Traditional style tattoos are a time tested favorite. These tattoos are a go-to style for first-timers and long-time tattoo enthusiasts. Tattoo Toronto - Butterfly Traditional Style

What Is a Realism Tattoo?

Realism first appeared in fine art during the Renaissance, and is a relatively new style in the world of tattoos, first appearing in the 1960s. Realism or photorealism tattoos attempt to create a precise rendering of real-life or imagined imagery as realistically as possible. Images rendered in this style are often indistinguishable from photographs. Realism is a difficult technique to master on paper, and tattoo artists spend years attempting to perfect the technique on skin. Those who perfect it can create images that seem incredibly life-like. Realism tattoos come in black and grey and color. Black and grey tattoos resemble a black and white photo, while full-color realism tattoos require multiple, detailed layers to produce the final result. Tattoo artists in this style create near real-life depictions of persons, places, portraits, and objects using black and grey or color. A skilled tattoo artist can render any subject in nature (or in the mind’s eye) in the Realism style. Not as highly stylized as traditional tattoos, realism (especially photorealism) attempts to render a subject as accurately as possible. One of the most challenging types of tattoos to create in the Realism style are portraits. Only a highly skilled artist can successfully create portraiture that faithfully reproduces images of animals, people, and places with photo-like accuracy. Realism Tattoo Toronto

What Is a Watercolor Tattoo?

Watercolor tattoos combine the details of Fine Line or traditional tattoos with the artistry of watercolor-esque coloring that resembles a watercolor painting on paper or canvas. Watercolor tattoos have a fine art look and feel to them, using splashes and flowing colors. Watercolor tattoos require a tattoo artist with advanced skills to successfully recreate images in this style. Advances in tattooing technology have helped this style evolve and catch on in tattooing culture. The style features flowing and smoothly blended colors, shapes, and forms. Black is still used in the ink base to help the design stand up over time. While relatively new, the style is very aesthetically pleasing and versatile. This style can be blended with other Blackwork or Fine Line style tattoos to create amazing, artfully rendered designs. Watercolour Tattoo Toronto

What Is an Asian-Style Tattoo?

Asian-style tattoos generally fall into two categories: traditional and neotraditional. Traditional Japanese Irezumi (literally, tattoo) is the basis of the modern Asian tattoo style. This style includes full body (horimono) tattoos, frequently depicting mythological beings or creatures from folklore. Subjects include dragons or phoenixes, animals, flora, and historical figures. Samurai and geisha are also popular subjects in traditional Asian tattoos. The Irezumi style is old, originating in the 17th century during Japan’s Edo period. Tattoos in the traditional style resemble woodblock prints of the same era. Historically, traditional Asian tattoos contained the three primary motifs of wind, waves, and fire. Most Asian tattoos blend some or all of these motifs into their designs. Traditional Asian tattoos tell a story of the past. Asian style tattoos have evolved significantly over the years. The best tattoo shops in Toronto work in what is known as the Neotraditional style. Contemporary Asian-style tattoos fall into two main categories: traditional and neotraditional. What are the differences? Asian tattoo Toronto

Traditional vs. Neotraditional Asian Style Tattoos

Traditional Asian tattoos are best known for full-body tattoos with intricate, detailed designs using traditional themes and motifs. Traditional styles follow a rigid structure that define the boundaries of the pieces. Traditional Japanese tattoos were popular with the Yakuza; a Japanese organized crime syndicate. Neotraditional Asian tattoo designs use traditional designs and motifs, but are less structured and follow the natural contours of the body. They use bold lines and color palettes, and modern variations on traditional designs and themes to make certain elements stand out.

What Is a Fine Line Tattoo?

Fine Line tattoos use straight or curved thin lines to render 2D or 3D objects. These tattoo designs emphasize form and outline over color, shading, and texture. Fine Line tattoos can depict intricate subjects, such as woven floral arrangements, Celtic knots, illustrations or diagrams. Anything you can render as a simple line drawing or wire frame is fair game as a Fine Line tattoo. Fine Line tattoo artists create highly detailed minimalist tattoos that aren’t showy. Fine Line tattoo styles are elegant, discreet, and frequently placed in small, inconspicuous places, such as between fingers. A skilled artist can create intricate designs using Fine Line tattooing. Mandalas, geometric shapes or patterns, and equations are all great subjects for Fine Line style tattoos. Fine Line style tattooing is the basis of Script Tattoos, which are tattoos using text. Fineline tattoo Toronto

What Is a Script Tattoo?

Script tattoos are words on the skin you can use to communicate anything you like about yourself. Script tattoos can state who you are, include the names of your children or loved ones who have passed, dates of special occasions, poetry or quotations. You can use words or phrases that make a unique statement about you. Script tattoo variations include block print, script, or expressions using equations, numbers, and formulas. You have a whole universe of fonts and styles from which to choose. Your script tattoo can make an artistic statement by how you render your text as well as what you say. Also, because script tattoos are fine-line renderings, you can place a script tattoo on nearly any part of the body, depending on how much you want to say. Quotations, inspirational words or phrases, poetry, significant dates – these are all fair game for script tattoos. Script Tattoo Toronto

What Is a Blackwork Tattoo?

Blackwork tattoos are bold works of body art rendered in black ink that resemble drawings. Often these tattoos consist of geometric shapes or patterns, figurative forms, scenes, and objects. Blackwork tattoos became a popular form for modern interpretations of Polynesian tribal tattoos and have evolved into a variety of tattoo styles over time. Some of the more popular Blackwork tattoo types are:
  • Geometric
  • Mandalas
  • Blackout
  • Negative Space
  • Dotwork
Blackwork is a broadly used term that encompasses most body art created exclusively with black ink. Artists creating Blackwork-style tattoos render innumerable designs from across cultures, nations, and time. Illustrative Tattoo - Rhino Chest Piece Tattoos using Blackwork designs have an illustrative, graphic arts feel. Some Blackwork designs are so skillfully rendered they resemble a fine art etching or engraving style. This connection to fine art gives a painterly quality to some Blackwork-style tattoos. Skilled artists in this style apply bold lines, fine shading, and dotwork to create incredibly detailed renderings of their subjects. Chronic Ink Tattoo and Piercing has four tattoo parlor locations in the Toronto area: Downtown, Eglinton, Markham, and Mississauga. We specialize in custom tattoos in any size or style you can imagine. We are known for our professionalism and the incredible artistry of our staff. Our artists create eye-catching, beautifully rendered tattoos in all the designs discussed in this post and more. We pay close attention to detail so your tattoo is as close to your design as we can get. Come in for a free consultation with one of our skilled tattoo artists. Bring us your tattoo ideas. Let’s discuss your vision for an awesome custom tattoo that is unique and only yours. See why we have the best tattoo shops in Toronto.

Ready to Explore the Best Tattoo Styles in Toronto?

At Chronic Ink Tattoo, our very talented artists are ready to help you explore tattoos in every style to make sure you find something you’ll want to show off for decades to come. If you’re in the Toronto, Markham, Mississauga, Kitsilano Vancouver area drop by our shop and check us out for yourself.

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Tattoo Shop Locations

Downtown Toronto

378 Yonge Street, 2nd Floor, Toronto, Ontario M5B 1S6 Directions

Midtown Toronto

252 Eglinton Ave East, 2nd Floor, Toronto, Ontario M4P 1K2 Directions


7381 Kennedy Road, Unit #105, Markham, Ontario L3R 5B5 Directions


100 City Centre Dr., Unit #2-311, Mississauga, Ontario L5N 2C9 Directions


1804 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia V6J 1M3 Directions

Looking for your next Tattoo Idea?

Browse our selection of one of a kinda tattoo designs created by our Chronic Ink artists. Each piece is individual and will only ever be tattooed once.

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