Abstract tattoos represent art to wear, permanently inked into your skin. They’re a new-old style that relies on shape and symbolism. The abstract artist will instead rely on the form than traditional illustration. This design is perfect for your next tattoo adventure if you wish to go for a trend that’s eye-catching and unscripted.
The Art in the Abstract
There’s nothing new about abstraction. Artists painted bison on cave walls as the essence of bison, Celtic warriors adorned themselves with gold engraved in geometric patterns that were beautifully worked. Still, no pictorial, and nineteenth-century Art Nouveau is all patterns. Twentieth-century Picasso was a cubist; Pollack was an abstract expressionist. Frank Stella and Agnes Martin were minimalists. All of them embraced the freedom of the unfettered imagination. Art that is not strictly representational maintains its appeal when it is inked on the body. You may give flight to your creativity when designing an abstract tattoo.
Tattoos in the abstract style can have different interpretations. The single curving line down your spine might signify life’s journey to you, but without a point of reference, your tattoo may be a sexy squiggle to an observer, designed to focus attention on your beautiful back. A mélange of shapes that overlap and wash out to a field of color could contain a flock of birds, or just represent the reflection of a rainbow in a puddle. A black line drawing of an eye-like shape might be the Eye of Horus, the ancient Egyptian symbol for pharaohs, robust health, and protection. Float it on a purple, blue, and red watercolor background, and it’s suddenly modern, maybe primitive.
Ideas for Abstract tattoos:
Animals are shapeshifters in the case of abstract tattoo designs. A red fox is your power animal, energetic and smart, impressive to behold and quick to disappear. Tattoo yours as a living flame with a face, a hint of ears, an indication of paws but mostly a flash and scatter of red-orange that disintegrates into spatters or flickers of color, removing the outline of a fox.
Save the whales, on your skin, with a couple of behemoths barely sketched in delicate gray. You can suspend them over blobs and splashes of translucent blue and purple. This design might be the ocean, might be clouds, or might be dream whales that conjure up your love for the sea or your concern about the environment.
You can choose a flying bluebird on your shoulder, the top of your foot, the back of your hand. Maybe it’s a hawk, perhaps it’s a phoenix, or maybe it’s the bluebird of happiness, dissolved into ribbons of color along with sponges and spatters of different blues that swirl over your skin.
A Sense of Place
Life is disorienting. Your go-to places shift and blur in memory, just like your souvenir tattoo. The skyline of your favorite city is magical when a Big Ben or an Eiffel Tower pokes up from blobs and swirls of watercolor that could be skyscrapers, could be a river or its bridge, or could be the building that houses the restaurant where you fell in love. Choose a hand-drawn, very fanciful, or simple black map for your tattoo. Precise coordinates are not relevant since you know the way.
The Geometry of Culture
Maori tribal tattoos are masterpieces of abstraction. The bold, curved shapes tell a story to the Maori people, not pictures, not words, but ideas. The symbolism isn’t lost on you. Your shoulders, arms, back, and legs represent the canvas for abstract tribal ink that flows over your form. Mix tribal with pure line repetition that emphasizes a curve of calf or ankle to create your tradition.
Invent a symbol with secret meaning and share the view on your mid-back, upper chest, or calf. You can just tell people you like the shape when they ask you what it means if you choose to keep the symbolism personal. Getting an abstract figure is a public-private gesture that relies strictly on the design for its impact.
Throw away shape altogether and give free rein to your fine artist tattooist who will cover an appendage or your entire back in smears, blocks, lines, and spatters of shadow and color or no pattern at all. With an abstract design, you can let somebody see art for art’s sake in a tattoo you’ll never see coming and going.
Under the Umbrella
Abstract art is an umbrella term that takes in all types of non-objective drawing, painting, and sculpture, even when the art does resemble or partly portray an actual thing. So you are free to find inspiration in your modern art museum, the graffiti on the walls of your city, the squiggles of your talented preschooler, or the grid of your town’s streets. Start with a real form and turn it into something only you can recognize. Pick no structure at all and just charge your tattoo artist to paint an emotion or an expression on your skin. Despite what you choose, abstract tattoos can be meaningful and beautiful.