Inspired by our collection of free tattoo fonts? Thinking of getting ink like these top designers? It can be a tough decision on what to get tattooed on your body parts. Especially as a creative - you want something cool that reflects your personality and (perhaps) taste in digital design and artwork.
So, whether you're after tattoos design in the style of your favourite artist, or want to peruse the latest styles and trends, check out these examples of fantastic tattoo art design - and discover the creatives who are pushing the artform ever further...
01. Houston Patton
Tattoo artist Houston Patton's designs take concept body art to a whole new level. Patton and creative director Dagny Fox are co-founders of tattoo company Thieves of Tower, which has a breathtaking portfolio of body art. Using landscape and infrastructure for inspiration on the majority of their designs, the pair produce intricate inkings, often using body parts as part of their unique artwork.
02. Sasha Unisex
Combining precise shapes and bold, in-your-face colours, these tattoos are quite simply a thing of beauty. The geometric aspect makes them triumph over the usual tattoo offerings, with Sasha Unisex's creations proving a hit across the world.
Operating out of her studio in St. Petersburg, it seems Sasha is booked up for months in advance with just about every tattoo lover wanting a piece of her art on their body – who can blame them?
03. Kim Rense
Kim Rense is a tattoo artist based in The Hague, Holland. With a traditional style, Rense manages to put a modern spin on this incredibly detailed, black and white efforts. Inspired by fairy tales and folklore, the designs are magnificent; attention to detail is a real winner here.
04. Sam Ricketts
Steadily gaining Instagram followers, Sam Ricketts is a Swindon based artist who's colourful creations have earned him plenty of fans. From full body pieces to smaller, palm-sized executions, his unqiue style is flawless throughout any and all. Opening a new studio in January, we have no doubt his appointment slots will be sought after.
05. Harriet Tattoo
Although Harriet is working as an apprentice for Shorditch London based studio Good Times Tattoo, her illustrative, nature-inspired style is already showing tonnes of promise. From her Wind and the Willows tributes to her adorable bunny rabbits, they're an absolute delight to look at.
06. Jon Boy
When it comes to simplicity, Jon Boy is king. Based in New York City, he's tattooed the likes of the Kardashians as well as a whole host of other celebrities. Whilst his work mostly consists of quotes and simple line work, it's easy to see why celebs are flocking to his studio.
07. Esme Loasby
Based in Northampton, England, Esme Loasby is a resident artist at Alternative Art. She enjoys working on big exciting, colourful projects, with lots of her pieces featuring animals, clocks, fairy-tale characters and floral patterns. Big, bold and beautiful, you'll adore her stuff.
08. Kenji Alucky
Tattoo artist Kenji Alucky specialises in the stippling method. This is where the tattoo design is made by inscribing countless tiny black dots onto the skin to produce something truly remarkable. Combining an array of influences, his work is spectacularly intricate – producing awe-inspiring patterns and imagery.
09. Facu Ontivero
Working as both a graphic designer and tattoo artist, Argentinian creative Facu Ontivero creates gorgeous designs that feature animals, geometric shapes and beautiful pattern work. We love his homage to the stippling technique as well as the attention to detail.
10. Paul Booth
American artist Paul Booth began his own sign making shop at the age of 15 and subsequently learned airbrushing and Repo work. He's since become one of the most sought-after tattoo artists on the metal scene, working for bands such as Slipknot, Mudvayne, Slayer, Pantera, Soulfly, Lamb of God, and Sepultura.
11. Dmitriy Samohin
Hailing from Odessa, Ukraine, Dmitriy Samohin is a master of bold, realistic pieces with incredibly intracate detail. A self-taught artist, he's been in the business for more than 10 years and his workshops are much sought-after at tattoo conventions.
12. Bill Baker
Bill Baker has been tattooing for over 30 years and is the co-owner of Pearl Harbor Gift Shop in Toronto. Over his career Baker has produced beautiful large-scale tattoos, making them work in his own innovative manner. Above is a truly stunning piece, influenced by Japanese tattoo art, of a koi surrounded by waves and flowers. For Baker, tattooing is a craft rooted in tradition.
13. Matt Houston
Matt Houston is a tattoo artist originating from London currently working at Gastown Tattoo Parlor in Vancouver, Canada. His work reflects the traditional style whilst integrating his own influences. One of our favourite pieces is shown above – a wolf wearing a feathered headdress whilst spitting blood. Matt Houston is constantly pumping out decent work and uploads it on to his blog.
14. Jean Le Roux
Jean Le Roux has an original illustration style that's generally focussed on animals and portraits, exaggerating the expressions of his subjects in a captivating manner. Jean Le Roux graduated as a graphic designer and followed his passion into illustration, which led to an apprenticeship at Black Garden Tattoo. Jean is constantly posting illustrations on his blog so give it a gander.
Gakkin, who works at Harizanmai tattoo studio in Kyoto, takes a new approach to traditional Japanese themes, strongly influenced by manga, graffiti and graphic design. But although his tattoos are defiantly 21st-century, Gakkins still follows many of the traditional rules of Japanese tattoo design, such as: "Never put momiji [message dolls] and sakura [cherry blossom] in the same drawing", and "Tigers should always go with bamboo".
While the background of this design is reminiscent of traditional Japanese prints, the colourful maple and the steaks of bright red on the koi makes it stand out as strikingly modern.
16. Ollie Munden
Ollie Munden, or MEGAMUNDEN as he's known to many, is a prolific illustrator and artist and his tattoo art designs have graced the body parts of such designers as Aardman's (and CreativeBloq regular) Gavin Strange. Check out this cool skull design, entitled Sugar Skull, commissioned by Luke Olney and inked by Into You Tattoo.
17. David Hale
David Hale is an artist living in Athens, Georgia, where he runs LoveHawk Studios. This is just one of his incredible tattoo art designs and its symmetry and almost geometric feel makes it classy for such a large piece. This particular piece is also slightly reminiscent of the work of the brilliant Aske of Sicksystems but in all, Hale is a remarkably original artist.
18. Horiyoshi III
This tattoo is a good example of Japanese tattoo design in the irezumi tradition: a full-body tattoo, covering arms, back, upper legs and chest. Horiyoshi III, an artist specialized in this approach, is so famous that there's even a museum dedicated to his art in Yokohama.
Although not entirely traditional in his approach – he works with electric needles – Horiyoshi III tries to stick to traditional classical motifs such as koi, dragons and peonies.
19. Jason Donahue
Artist Jason Donahue works at the Idle Hand tattoo studio in the Lower Haight district of San Francisco. His work has shades of Tamara de Lempicka, often with Native American themes. His minimal use of colour is both subtle and striking, and his style looks great on both smaller hand pieces and larger coverings.
20. David Corden
When it comes to detail (and to be honest, creepiness) there's no one better than UK artist David Corden. His gothic pinups are inspired designs that are visual masterpieces in their own right: this amount of detail has to be applauded.
En works at Genko Studio in Nagoya, which is well known for his modern spin on traditional Japanese tattoo designs.
This illustration features a koi – a symbol of love and a recurring element in traditional Japanese tattoos. The hints of orange, red and blue give a modern look to the traditional design of the koi.
22. Jon Burgerman
How ace is this tattoo art design from everyone's favourite doodler Jon Burgerman? It goes to show that tattoos don't have to be dark in their themes to look stylish. Burgerman has designed many more pieces of cool body art, all in his unique character art style. To see more of his work check out these Jon Burgerman tattoo art designs.
23. Loic Zimmermann
When fantasy and concept artist Loic Zimmermann wanted to see how one of his tattoo art designs would look on his body, he recreated himself as a digital double using Maya, ZBrush, Photoshop CS6 and Mental Ray to design and pre-vis a tattoo that was then unwrapped, printed on a carbon paper, and then applied to his real skin with accuracy before the inking could start. And here's the final design: it's bloody brilliant.
24. Fat Punk Studio
Fat Punk Studio is a Somerset-based design studio specialising in T-shirts, prints, giant wall murals and, of course, killer tattoo art designs. The finished design will run down the client's right arm and, according to the studio, contains loads of personal elements such as roses with Marshall Speaker cones at their centres. "Get ya tattoo guns out people and stay tuned for more updates as the inking gets underway," it says on the studio blog. We can't wait.
25. Adriaan Machete
Not only is this artist a sublime master of his craft, he also has a very cool name. Adriaan Machete is the kind of name you expect from a tattoo artist. Check out this awesome, if gruesome, leg design: vibrant turquoise against pink with clever line work make the characters pop.
26. Peter Aurisch
This design from Peter Aurisch is a great example of the artist's almost sketched, geometric style. We particularly love his approach to shading. He works out of Signs and Wonders studio in Berlin where he designs other amazing ink.
27. Yellow Blaze
The dragon tattooed on this skull was created by Shige, a self-taught tattooist based in Yokohama, Japan who is the founder of Yellow Blaze Tattoo. While the basis of his work is Japanese history and traditional culture, Shige has created his own original style, which he describes as a never-ending work in progress.
28. Seth Wood
Seth Wood is just one of the nine incredible artists working out of Brooklyn's renowned Saved Tattoo. This design is one of Wood's most recent pieces, garnering comments on Instagram such as 'Insane! Nice colors!!!' and '#radass'.
29. Peter Lagergren
We love this design purely because it's so freakin' bizarre. Brilliantly executed, but bizarre. We can only imagine it's from the mind of Swedish tattoo artist Peter Lagergren or one of his clients. Our Google search for 'Monkey and walrus in hot air balloon' didn't shed any further light on the subject. Still, some amazing line-work and subtle shading.
30. Alejandro Paul
Renowned type designer Alejandro Paul of Sudtipos designed this typeface, called Piel Script, especially for tattoo artists and those wanting a cool script font emblazoned on their body parts. Simply buy the font from Veer or the studio's own site: type your letters and take to your tattoo artist of choice.
31. Ed Perdomo
Ed Perdomo is a tattoo artist from Columbia who now resides in Goteborg, Sweden. This Victorian jackalope design (have you seen Pixar's Boundin'?) is a great example of his unique style: "I only do custom, love colours and big spaces... my work is optimistic and a bit crazy," he says.
32. Tim Senecal
An unusual, yet stunning design from Tim Senecal. What we love about this is it screams tradition (and has a very Asian feel to it) whilst at the same time having a very distinct and unusual colour palette. Senecal works out of Off the Map Tattoo in Easthampton, MA.
33. Jessica Hische
We're cheating a bit, as this isn't a permanent tattoo. But it's a superb flourishing geeky illustrated design, and by wearing it you can tell everyone you are into typography. It's designed by Jessica Hische, and is quite similar to the letterer's own tattoo that adorns her left bicep. Tattly has a load of designer-themed temporary tattoos: you can even wear a fake Pantone swatch called Tattone 5K1 N. If only they did a Pantone 285 for when you're feeling blue.
The work of Swedish graphic designer and illustrator 3KTA (aka EKTA) is simple, stylish and sometimes fun, and clients include The New York Times, Ogilvy & Mather and Mattel. EKTA has also put on many solo and group exhibitions. This single colour tattoo is an interesting piece of isometric design from the artist.
35. Anthony Romero
This style of tattoo is bang on trend at the moment. And although we're not sure the subject will appeal to everyone, US hipsters are embracing this bold, kitsch (and traditional American) style in their thousands. Whom do you ask for a 'cat in a hat, with pearls arounds its neck, inside an ornate frame'? You ask Anthony Romero of course.
36. Ondřej Konupčík
Who says ink has to be well-defined and crisp? Well not Czech tattoo artist Ondřej Konupčík, that's for sure. This artist's style is unlike anything we've seen, feeling like subtle watercolour pieces. This hummingbird tattoo is particularly beautiful, being defined near the wrist, bleeding up to subtle pastels near the bicep.
37. Myke Chambers
If you'll excuse the pants, check out this intricate (and suitably large) traditional American tattoo design by Myke Chambers. Coverage is very high but the colour work is stunning – as is the detail in the various animal and human portraits that run through the design.
Australian tattoo artist Emily Rose Murray blends a strong comic art-influenced style with some amazing colour and shading work. We particularly love this design, which is just at the sketch stage – but you can get a full flavour of the Melbourne-based artist's work at her Instagram and Facebook pages.
One of the greats in the tattoo industry, Grime has been around for more than 20 years. Having started out by painting skateboards, he's very opinionated on the subject of tattoo art, and his masterpieces of body art have set new standards in colour and perception. Here's a great documentary about Grime’s life and work.
40. Amanda Wachob
Originally a painter, Amanda Wachob has developed a beautifully unique style of tattoo art. Influenced by the work of Hans Hofmann, she allows the organic forms of the body to influence these abstract shapes. Today Wachob works at one of New York's leading parlors Daredevil Tattoo in Manhattan's Lower East Side.
Based in Tokyo, Horitata is a huge fan of American design, but his work is mostly inspired by the Edo period (1600-1868), the golden age of traditional Japanese tattoo design. The character here really stands out from the background, making it instantly recognisable, even from a distance.
Have you seen any awesome tattoo designs? Let us know in the comments box below!
- Aaron Kitney is a freelance graphic designer and art director based in London and Vancouver. He specialises in branding, identity, web design, publication design, album covers, packaging and book design.
- Mylène Boyrie is a freelancer from Bordeaux, France, specializing in print and digital design. Follow her on Twitter.
- This is an updated and extended version of an article that previously appeared on Creative Bloq.