Incredible Tattoo Designs

The art of tattoos has become increasingly popular over the last two decades, with about 36% of 18-25 year olds sporting at least one tattoo. While many tattoo artists simply use designs from books and portfolios, some tattoo artists go above and beyond, creating distinctive artistic styles that result in incredible tattoo designs.

Amazing Tattoo Designs
The difference between a mediocre tattoo and an incredible tattoo is in the quality of the design and the level of the tattoo artist's skill. Great tattoos have clear lines, smooth shading and correct proportions. When these three design elements are in balance, the result is a pleasing piece of body art. The best tattoo designs don't necessarily need to be photo realistic or filled with color; even a linear tattoo design in black ink can be pleasing to the eye. The composition of the design, the position of the tattoo on the body and the balance of the design elements all contribute to whether a tattoo is a work of art or not.

Above: An incredible photo realistic tattoo of a woman's eye. Italian tattoo artist Alex De Pase uses beautiful shading techniques to achieve the effect of photo realism, and has included flower petals to give the finished tattoo design a surrealist effect. The pink shades of the flower petals can be seen in the pink of the woman's eye shadow. This creates a feeling of balance in the design. [source]

Above: This tattoo artist has inked an owl into the skin in such a way that it looks like an oil painting. The effect is tricky to achieve, as the brushstrokes in the tattoo design have to be created with the vibrating needle of the tattoo gun. The result is a dramatic art work inked into the skin. [source]

Above: This tribal tattoo design uses symmetry and clear outlines to create balance. The design is based on birds' wings and works with the shape of the woman's arms and wrists. Even though the tattoo design is fairly simple, the clear, smooth outlines, near-perfect shading and symmetry make this an amazing tattoo design. [source]

Above: A cute cartoon tattoo by Jesse Smith that uses clear outlines and contrasting colors to create depth and visual interest. The tattoo artist edited the design to make it appear that the worm to the left of the image is about to eat the guy's nipple. [source] See a funny Photoshop caricature of tattoo artist Jesse Smith.

Tattoo Art as a Symbol of Freedom
Tattoo art has limitations that are not found in many other art forms. The smaller the design, the less detail there can be in the tattoo design, because over time, the ink will spread under the skin, slowly turning the art work into a mess of color. Tattoo designs can be distorted by the shape of a body part, and the movement of the human canvas. So even though tattoos have become a symbol of personal freedom and choice, the art form itself is fairly limited.

Above: A tattoo of this size is incredibly difficult to create, especially on an area made of cartilage, like the ear. The skull tattoo in this woman's ear is an exceptional art work because of the amount of detail achieved at this size. The artist has used white tattoo ink to highlight parts of the skull. [source]

Above: This full back tattoo of the Indian God Ganesh is colorful and attractive. The tattoo design incorporates the busy, almost animated nature of Indian art works while still keeping the subject of the design recognizable. [source]

Above: Another truly amazing tattoo design by Alex de Pase. The tattoo artist has combined photo realism with paisley and other decorative elements, finishing off the art work with splashes of color that are reminiscent of a watercolor painting. This portrait tattoo is reminscent of the sugar skull designs used in Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican celebration known in English as Day of the Dead. [source]
Above: This incredible tattoo design uses the shape of the hand in the design, especially in the knuckle area. The effect is a sci-fi styled art work with a fantasy flavor. [source]