If there's something that never goes out of fashion in the world of design, it's tattoo art. Designers simply love getting inked up with awesome tattoos, and tattoo artists are forever pushing the boundaries of what can be done; check out these mind-blowing 3D tattoos, for example.
Right now, though, we're obsessed with watercolor tattoo art, in which artists recreate the unique look of watercolor paintings in tattoo form. It might look easy but it takes an enormous amount of skill to convincingly ink a replica of the distinctive colour washes and paint splatters that you'll find in a watercolor painting; here are 14 amazing examples by some of the world's leading practitioners.
A designer from a young age, Klaim turned to tattoo art when exploring mediums including digital art and graffiti. Now a highly skilled tattoo artist, Klaim develops his signature style while working out of Street Tattoo studio in Franconville, France. His artistic and imaginative designs flow with the natural form of the individual's physical features.
Describing himself as an "abstract watercolor tattoo artist", Florida-based Van Schaick's tattooing journey began in Minnesota before he took the leap down to the sun-filled land of Florida.
He is currently based out of Hart & Huntington in Orlando and says he's still learning. But, with stunningly vibrant works of body art with lines that flow and colours that bleed into one another so effortlessly, he hasn't much left to learn. You'll be astonished to find his works were achieved with a hefty tattoo machine and not a light, sable paintbrush!
Carballo has her fingers in many pies; from make-up artistry and tattooing to painting and illustrating. There really is nothing creative she can't master. The Argentinian artist, has a penchant for whimsical, pastel coloured watercolour skin art, and we adore the "rough around the edges" sketchy line-work, very reminiscent of mid-century fashion illustrations.
04. Rodrigo Tas
Tattooist and graphic artist, Tas draws on any surface he's presented with. He's tried his hand at everything, including teaching and is a qualified graphic designer - but then he discovered the pull of the tattoo machine and never looked back.
His designs blend his eye for graphic qualities and design with his experience with illustration, motion design and art history. Although he's not taking bookings at present, the São Paulo based artist takes up suprise guest slots all over the country, most recently in NYC so check his Facebook.
05. Sasha Unisex
We've covered Moscow-based tattoo artist Sasha Unisex before, and we can't resist the opportunity to go and take another look at her work. She combines bold geometric lines with glorious watercolor looks, resulting in tattoos that really stand out from the crowd.
Sadly she's not taking bookings at the moment, however you can get the next best thing: Tattoo You has four stunning Sasha Unisex designs.
06. Jay Freestyle
Born in South Africa and now based in Amsterdam, Jay Freestyle is a self-taught tattoo artist who creates his tattoos on the spot and freestyles throughout the session, resulting in lively work that combines various styles and mixes realism with abstraction.
His work takes him all over the world and has won him numerous awards, and he's in such demand that the waiting list for getting inked by Jay is up to a year.
07. Lianne Moule
Lianne is a versatile artist who works across a variety of media, but her speciality is watercolor tattoos imbued with breathtakingly realistic sunlight effects.
Driven by a love of nature and bright colours, she creates her work by first making a watercolor study to use as a reference that she then painstakingly recreates in tattoo form, making sure to include hard-to-imitate spills, splashes and drips by way of a signature. You can find her at Immortal Ink in Chelmsford, UK.
08. Victor Octaviano
Hailing from Brazil, tattoo artist and self-taught illustrator Victor Octaviano has been exploring the possibilities of creating a watercolor look in tattoo form for a while now.
He loves the challenge of conveying the look and texture of watercolor paintings in his tattoo work, mixing up sharp, energetic brush strokes with gloriously liquid washes, splatters and stains.
09. Chén Jié
You've probably seen plenty of tattoos made up of Chinese characters before, but we doubt you've ever seen one quite as beautiful as this. It's the work of Chén Jié, tattoo artist at New Tattoo in Beijing, and her style is informed by hundreds of years of Chinese art, recreating the look of traditional brushed ink in wonderful detail.
10. Ivana Tattoo Art
Currently living and working in Los Angeles, Ivana is a multi award-winning tattoo artist who's in demand at tattoo conventions worldwide. She describes her work as innovative, sophisticated, and eclectic; a sexy mixture of multiple genres combining funky, bright colours and abstract elements with street style and high art. We love the expressive splashes of colour in this playful image of a Japanese doll
11. Dêner Silva
If you've wondered about the sort of work that goes into creating a watercolor tattoo, this video from Brazilian tattoo artist Dêner Silva should cast a little light on the process.
It shows him creating a distinctive Cheshire Cat tattoo, starting from a reference work that he turns into a line art transfer, and then painstakingly inking the design. Impressive job!
It's not easy to get an appointment with Ondrash. A versatile artist and tattoo artist with a background in fashion design and conceptual, he likes to give every client his full attention and so only takes one booking a day at his studio in Znojmo in the Czech Republic, taking time to understand what his client is after, create a reference painting and only then goes to work with the needle to create a tattoo as individual as every customer.
13. Darren Bishop
Resident tattoo artist at Otzi Tattoos & Apparel, Darren Bishop is the man to go to if you're in Glasgow and find yourself in need of a bright and colourful watercolor tattoo. We love this poppy design in particular, with its mix of delicate black lines and vivid bursts of colour.
14. Petra Hlaváčková
Based at Bobek Tattoo in Prague, Petra Hlaváčková specialises mainly in striking monochrome work that looks like it's been rendered with ink and a brush; huge, vibrant black and white scrawls littered with areas of stippling and cross-hatching. It's not all monochrome, though, and when she does add a bit of watercolor it brings an extra dimension of energy to her work.
Additional contributions from Alice Pattillo.