Types of Tattoo Designs

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Actor/Comedian, Ed Ackerman (The Flock, Frozen, Hatchet 2, The Change Up, 17 Again, Capital One- Visigoth) has several types of tattoo designs. He got his tribal band in Akron, OH in 1998. The Phoenix was inked in Van Nuys, CA in 2000. The sun and clouds capping his shoulder behind the Phoenix were added by Studio City Tattoo, Studio City, CA in 2010. The zinnias, his mother’s favorite flower along with her actual signature of her first and middle name, were inked in 2011 by Studio City Tattoo as a Mother’s Day present for his mom.

The types of tattoo designs people choose are as varied as people themselves. A tattoo is a life-long commitment and represents the essence of your personality, values and outlook on life. While there are far too many types of tattoo designs to list them all here, let’s look at some types of tattoos, starting with a few specialized types.

Band Tattoos – These are tattoo designs that wrap around the arm, leg or ankle.

Sleeve Tattoos – Like band tattoos, sleeve tats wrap around and are wide enough to cover a good part of the arm.

Black Light / UV Tattoos – A special ink is used for tattoos that are almost invisible in regular light, but light up under ultra-violet light. Colors range from white to purple.

Cover Up Tattoos - You fell in love. You got her name tattooed on your arm. It didn’t work out. Now what do you do? Some tattoo artists specialize in cover up tattoos that alter the original image. Some of these can be very creative.

Various motifs are found on the most popular tattoos. Among them are:

Angel Tattoos  - Including an angel holding a harp or playing a trumpet, fantasy inspired winged creatures sitting on clouds and angels holding sword or daggers.

Celtic Tattoos – You don’t have to be Irish to sport one of these tattoos. Popular celtic designs are the Hanging Bowl, Carpet Page, Celtic Cross, and Celtic Knot.

Cross Tattoos – These can be traditional Christian crosses or crucifixes, or gothic crosses to symbolize pain and anger.

Tribal Tattoos – These types of designs have become quite popular. They can signify membership in a cultural or religious group. The designs are most often trimmed lines that are symmetrical or have a mirror effect with each side being identical.

Dragon Tattoos – Popularized by the movie, dragon tattoos come in many shapes and designs. These are the most popular tattoos by far, and are some of the most colorful designs.  There are western dragon, eastern dragon and tribal dragon tattoo designs.

Flower Tattoos – Some people get flower tattoos because they like the design, and some for the meaning of the particular flower. For example, roses mean love, romance, and courage. Lilies signify purity. Orchids stand for mystery.

Left: Singer/Songwriter Nick Looman has a tattoo of his favorite song lyrics in a unique lettering typeface. Top Row: Sleeve, Celtic Knot, Cover Up. Bottom Row: Dragon, Koi, Old-school Pin-up.

Japanese Tattoos – This is a classification all to itself, and can include dragons, snakes, letters, kites, flowers, water, fire, smoke, rocks, pots and more. Japanese tattoos are usually quite large. Within Japanese tattoo designs there are three categories—Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana.

Koi Tattoos – These colorful fish are the inspiration for vibrant tattoos, most often in colors, including red, silver, white and yellow. Koi tattoos go along with the many species of koi fish, each having a distinctive color and pattern.

Name and Lettering Tattoos - Whether it is your own, your loved one’s, or that of someone you admire, a name tattoo is forever. Hearts with “Mom” inscribed have always been popular. Lyrics, sayings and quotes, in a variety of typefaces, are also popular.

Octopus Tattoos  - These tattoos symbolize complexity, diversity, mystery, vision, intelligence, illusion, variability and insight.

Old-school Tattoos  - This refers to the traditional designs with bold, blue-black outlines, usually filled with solid red and green, and with little or no shading . Examples of old school designs include cherries, pin ups, roses, nautical stars, mermaids and hearts.

Pin-Up Girl Tattoos -  Popularized in the 1950s, these tattoos are making a comeback.

Tattoo design placement often dictate what types of tattoo designs can be used. The arms, back, feet, ankles, neck, face, shoulder, hand, finger, stomach, ribcage, side, and more private areas are all places where you might find someone has been inked.

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