50 inspirational examples of tattoo art

26. David Hale

Tattoo art designs David Hale

David Hale's beautiful tattoo work is on a par with his outstanding illustrations

David Hale is an artist living in Athens, Georgia, where he runs LoveHawk Studios. This is just one of his incredible pieces of tattoo art , 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.

27. Horiyoshi III

Japanese tattoo designs

Horiyoshi III continues the irezumi tradition of full-body tattoo designs

This tattoo is a good example of Japanese tattoo art 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.

28. Jason Donahue

Tattoo art designs Jason Donahue

San Fran artist Jason Donahue's work has almost an art deco feel to it

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.

29. David Corden

tattoo art

If it's a realistic undead pinup spanning your arm you're after, there's one man to call

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 creations that are visual masterpieces in their own right: this amount of detail has to be applauded.

30. En

Japanese tattoo designs

En gives traditional Japanese tattoo designs a modern look

En works at Genko Studio in Nagoya, which is well known for his modern spin on traditional Japanese tattoo art.

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.

31. Jon Burgerman

Tattoo art designs Jon Burgerman

Martin Fearn's Jon Burgerman tattoo spans from his shoulder to the elbow of his right arm

How ace is this tattoo art 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 pieces of Jon Burgerman tattoo art.

32. Loic Zimmermann

tattoo art

What's the best way to visualise how a tattoo will look? Build a digital double of yourself and map the design onto it, of course

When fantasy and concept artist Loic Zimmermann wanted to see how one of his pieces of tattoo art 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 brilliant.

33. Fat Punk Studio

Tattoo art designs Fat Punk Studio

Fat Punk Studio is a master of contemporary tattoo designs – and it's also pretty good at murals, tees and stickers

Fat Punk Studio is a Somerset-based design studio specialising in T-shirts, prints, giant wall murals and, of course, killer tattoo art. The finished creation 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.

34. Adriaan Machete

Tattoo art designs Adriaan Machete

How about a zombie apocalypse? On your leg

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.

35. Peter Aurisch

Tattoo art designs Peter Aurisch

With an almost sketched, geometric style, Peter Aurisch is the perfect artist if you're looking for an original sleeve design

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 creates other amazing ink.

36. Yellow Blaze

Japanese tattoo designs

Although influenced by tradtional Japanese designs, Shige has created his own original style

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.

37. Seth Wood

Tattoo art designs Seth Wood

Seth Wood's inspired leg design: just one example of the artist's striking use of colour

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'.

38. Peter Lagergren

Tattoo art designs Peter Lagergren

Bizarre yet brilliantly executed: one of Swedish artist Peter Lagergren's best

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.

39. Alejandro Paul

Tattoo art designs Alejandro Paul

Piel Script (Spanish for 'Skin Script') was designed for tattoos in mind by 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.

40. Ed Perdomo

Tattoo art designs Ed Perdomo

The expression, shading and unique colour palette are all typical of Ed Perdomo's work

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.

41. Tim Senecal

Tattoo art designs Tim Senecal

An original colour palette and design that juxtaposes traditional and modern makes this design one of Tim Senecal's most interesting

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.

42. Jessica Hische

Tattoo art designs Jessica Hische

Tattly is a great resource for geeky temporary tattoos, from cursors to RGB spectrums to illustrated type

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.

43. 3KTA

Tattoo art designs 3KTA

Usually working in spray paint or ink, this single colour tattoo was a departure in medium for the artist known as ETKA

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.

44. Anthony Romero

Tattoo art designs Anthony Romero

Tattoo artist Anthony Romero is a masterful craftsman, as this über-cool design shows

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.

45. Ondřej Konupčík

Tattoo art designs Ond 345 ej Konup 269 iacute k

Ondřej Konupčík's distinct style feels like the artist has painted a watercolour piece directly on the recipient's skin. Amazing work

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.

46. Myke Chambers

Tattoo art designs Myke Chambers

Myke Chambers travels the world inking his customers

If you'll excuse the pants, check out this intricate (and suitably large) traditional American piece of tattoo art 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.

47. Emily Rose Murray

Tattoo art designs Emily Rose Murray

Emily Rose Murray: the leading lady of tattoo 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.

48. Grime

Grime's body art tattoo designs have set new standards in the industry

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.

49. Amanda Wachob

With a background in painting, Amanda Wachob has created a unique brand of tattoo art

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.

50. Horitata

Japanese tattoo designs

Horitata's work echoes the Edo period, the golden era of Japanese tattoo art

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.

Contributions: Alice Pattillo, Jim McCauley, Aaron Kitney and Mylène Boyrie