Trends in tattooing turn up and disappear, but a new direction to hit the scene in the last few years is the watercolor tattoo. These soft, colorful watercolor works of art suggest bright designs and not restricted by the constraints of a traditional symbol.
Understanding the Style
Very often, watercolor tattoos lack the traditional black outline and flow along the skin, giving it a soft, fluid look. They are reminiscent of artwork by Van Gogh or Frank Webb.
While watercolor has been around for a long time, creating tattoos in this distinctive, fluid art form only become popular several years ago. This recognizable style features soft lines and colors, colorful blooms, and paddling color drips. It gives the tattoo a flow, blended appearance as if it was brushed on the skin.
How It’s Done
Since the watercolor tattoo doesn’t have the black outline of a standard tattoo design, you might be wondering how it is done. The process of creating these tattoos can depend on the artist. Some artists might freehand the motif based on an image that the client has brought into the shop. Other artists might use a stencil to supply a rough outline for working with.
From there, the artist will produce the tattoo, working from the darkest color to the lightest, similar as in a watercolor painting. Depending on his or her own individual style, the type of needle used can vary, but a mag shading needle is ordinary.
Should You Get a Watercolor Tattoo?
While you might be thinking about getting a tat like this of your own, there are pros and cons that you should consider before settling on this type of tattoo.
First, it is essential to look at why this style is so popular.
- The style of this tattoo is very eye-catching. The lack of an outline makes it appear as if the work was painted right on your skin. Additionally, the black doesn’t cancel out the vivid colors.
- The colors on this type of tattoo can range from soft and wispy to bold and vivid.
- Given the free flow of this design, no two tattoos are ever the same.
On the other side, you need to understand the problems that some artists find with this type of piece.
- The chief con for getting a watercolor tattoo is the fact that many artists believe that watercolor tattoos can’t stand the test of time. All tattoos fade and bleed as the time pass. But, since these tattoos don’t always have a distinct outline (or skeleton) and are made of soft colors, as they begin to fade, you could lose the essence of the piece.
- Touch-ups can be harder. Touch-ups are commonplace after a few years for any tattoo; however, on a watercolor tattoo, you may not have a strict outline to follow. Therefore, touch-ups may change the work dramatically.
- Additionally, the softness of the tattoo can bleed and fade faster than a traditional one. Some tattoo artists do note that you can combat this fading by creating tattoos with more vibrant colors like blacks, reds, and blues rather than yellows and pinks. Since the sun can also shorten the life of a tattoo design, keeping your watercolor work out of direct sunlight and wearing sunscreen can extend the longevity of your tattoo.
Unique Styles of Watercolor Tattoos
The primary reason why watercolor tattoos have become so popular is the uniqueness of the designs. The following symbols can be used for inspiration.
The intuitive owl exemplifies the watercolor tattoo. The usage of soft, fluid purples and the lack of outline show how the ink mimics the blooming and floating of the pigment into a delicate design. Moreover, it demonstrates how the layering of pigment creates depth and dimension within the image. In order to create the soft feel of this tattoo with the lack of outline will require a bit more space to work with to create the depth and shadows of the owl; therefore, you’d want to look for a relatively flat and large area like the shoulder blade or upper thigh.
The butterfly is a famous symbol in the tattoo world. It can represent beauty and honor, as well as luck. It is also a versatile tattoo that can fit pretty much on any area of the body. Adding the soft color of the watercolor style provides the image of a sweet, gentle look on the skin. The coloring technique makes it appear as delicate as the pure creature in the wild. Though this watercolor does have a partial black outline, the softness of the colors and how they bleed and drip out of the framework make it a great example of the watercolor technique.
The watercolor skull tattoo offers an excellent example of how the bleed of colors looks like it was painted on. The colors are bright and flow around the design as if a painter worked the water into the pigments. This design provides a solid outline, but the splash of colors dominates this original candy skull. While this tattoo can work in smaller areas, placing the candy skull in a larger area helps to maintain its intricate details.
Watercolor tattoos are also perfect for cute designs that almost look animated. This little elephant offers a sketch-like outline and vibrant colors that seem to dance off the skin. The way that they bleed through the lines softens the piece, adding to the natural feel of the artwork. While you could choose to do something like this as a more significant piece or as part of a larger watercolor motif, the sketch-like quality of this adorable little watercolor tattoo might work best as a smaller design. Additionally, given the heavy outline and soft coloring, it might look best on a visible flat area like the chest, shoulder blade, or abdomen. Nevertheless, you might even be able to fit this little guy very effectively on the top of your foot.
Art Imitating Art
Watercolor tattoos are taking the tattoo scene with the speed of a storm. They provide unique design options and can be very varied in terms of size. Some artists might be disturbed with the permanence of the tattoo due to lack of a black outline, which can make the design unrecognizable when it fades. However, there are ways to combat this. Ultimately, the choice is yours if you want to give this type of tat a try because whether you are painting on a canvas or etching it permanently onto your skin, art is art.