Blackwork tattoos are a very popular trend at the moment, and understandably so.
Since the mid 2000s, most people have become at least a little bit “tattoo curious” as more average Joes get inked.
Though many people would like to get a tattoo of some kind, settling on a design is difficult.
There are so many options, from colorful naga tattoos to portraits of the people you love.
Because many people are afraid that the love they have for their fresh tattoo may not last, the simple, clean lines of blackwork tattoos are appealing for their minimalist aesthetic.
Blackwork tattoos have a classy, artistic look and aren’t specifically linked to any age group.
If you enjoy colourful clothing, you won’t have to worry about your blackwork piece clashing or stealing the spotlight- it can bring a nice kind of harmony to an outfit- from classic fashion to streetwear.
What is a Blackwork Tattoo?
Blackwork tattoos are characterized by mainly black ink (sometimes with hints of red or another accent color), very bold lines, and a powerful use of negative space.
In the art world, negative space refers to everything around an image rather than the image itself.
By utilizing negative space, an artist can create a powerful image without using many of the usual tricks, such as color or fine lines, to create movement and detail in a piece.
Blackwork tattoos are often simple black lines or slightly ornate geometric patterns, but they can really be anything.
Some popular blackwork tattoo designs may be animals, bird skulls, or even floral patterns.
If you’re looking for a piece that is as beautiful as it is strong and masculine, a blackwork floral tattoo could be something to consider.
Blackwork art brings a nice balance to feminine designs, making them more masculine or even gender neutral in appearance.
In a blackwork tattoo, an artist will literally “black out” large sections of skin.
The art in a blackwork tattoo becomes more about what parts of the skin aren’t inked, rather than which ones are.
This is definitely a bold look, and it will involve more than a quick little trip to your favorite neighborhood tattoo shop.
If you’ve chosen blackwork as your tattoo of choice, you’ve chosen a bold look and a commitment to sitting in that chair for a few hours at least!
What’s the Difference Between Blackwork Tattoos and Tribal Tattoos?
Many considering a blackwork tattoo find themselves wondering what the real difference between blackwork tattoos and tribal tattoos, another popular tattoo style.
These styles are typically confused with each other as they both use mainly black ink and bold line-work.
Put simply, this is what you should remember about the difference between blackwork tattoos and tribal tattoos: all tribal tattoos count as blackwork tattoos but not all blackwork tattoos are tribal tattoos.
Blackwork tattoos include any style that is filled in with solid black but may not use the same cultural symbolism found in tribal tattoos.
Do Blackwork Tattoos Make Good Tattoo Cover-ups?
Yes, because of their bold lines and large dark spots, a blackwork tattoo can be a great option if you’ve been second guessing your ink.
The use of dark, bold lines found in blackwork tattoos are the perfect solution for covering up tattoos you regret.
In fact, many people looking to cover up past tattoos are directed by their artists to use the blackwork style in their design as it works to completely cover the tattoo in question.
The only issue is, once a blackwork tattoo is done, it’s very hard to remove and impossible to cover up, so choose wisely!
While blackwork tattoos make for an awesome way to cover up past indiscretions, their bold use of lines makes it very difficult for them to be covered up after the fact.
Always work closely with your tattoo artist to ensure that your design is exactly what you’re looking for.
How Long Does a Blackwork Tattoo Take?
No matter what you’re getting done- tattoos take time.
Your artist needs time to properly sterilize their space, set up their tools, and get the perfect angle on your tattoo so it looks just right.
Any tattoo artist worth their salt will be concerned with placement and making sure the design flows well on your body and that’s even before they’ve picked up the gun!
With a blackwork tattoo, the artist is going for a completely solid black over a large patch of your body.
To get the color saturated enough, the artist may need to go over the same place a few times.
Expect multiple sessions and to spend a few hours with your artist each time.
Do Blackwork Tattoos Hurt More?
Again, a blackwork tattoo has to be extremely saturated.
Unlike color tattoos, even the smallest variance in color, down to the tiniest spec of uncovered skin, will be visible.
One pass of the needle isn’t so bad, but after an artist has been to work for a while, your skin will become quite raw.
If you’re thinking of going to the dark-side with a blackwork tattoo, be sure to communicate with your artist about how you’re feeling.
There’s nothing wrong with needing to take a break and drink some water.
Stretching your piece out over multiple appointments may lead to some impatient moments down the line, but your body will thank you for not overdoing it, and you’ll save your tattoo artist from some serious back pain.
What do Blackwork Tattoos Mean?
Though blackwork tattoos may come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles- the look would not exist without tribal tattoos.
While blackwork tattoos are having a moment in the pop culture spotlight right now, they have been around for centuries.
One need only look at Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s traditional Polynesian piece to see the link between blackwork tattoos and traditional tribal art.
The bold black lines and clever use of negative space, the ornate yet minimalist design- it’s all there.
Many of today’s blackwork tattoos would fall under the “neo tribal” category.
Artists who create neo-tribal work draw inspiration from centuries old practices, but through their own spin on the designs they create.
Most importantly, a neo-tribal tattoo artist will try to create something new with their inspiration.
As with any tattoo, it best serves you to choose something with a deeply personal meaning.
Taking something from a culture that is not your own is ill advised.
Not only is it an insensitive move- you may end up with something that symbolises the very opposite of your intent.
There are enough embarrassing tattoo stories about people who got a piece in another language, only to discover it meant something ridiculous!
Common Themes in Blackwork Tattoos
As discussed, tribal themes are very commonplace in the blackwork tattoo style.
That being said, there are a variety of common themes utilized in the blackwork style.
Etching or engraving styles, dark art, graphic art, and calligraphic scripts are all commonly used in the blackwork style.
More specifically in terms of theme, blackwork tattoos tend to seek inspiration from alchemy, arcane hermetic, and esoterica iconography.
This includes subject matter such as swords and sigils and tarot cards and demons.
The use of sacred geometry is also incredibly popular in terms of the blackwork tattoo style.
Drawing inspiration from Hindu, Buddhist, and sigil symbology, many blackwork tattoos feature geometric themes that encapsulate geometric ideology.
These designs typically feature the use of heavy linework, shapes, and dots.
Regardless of the common themes implemented by tattooists specializing in the blackwork style, one thing should be kept in mind.
The ease of clarity of design, the fact that blackwork tattoos age incredibly well, and that black ink is easily visible on any skin type, makes blackwork an adaptable style for nearly any subject matter.
How to Choose the Perfect Blackwork Tattoo Design
Now that you know a bit more about blackwork tattoos and what makes them such a popular tattoo style for so many people, it is likely that you are starting to plan one for yourself.
Before you can have a blackwork tattoo that speaks to your personal tastes, you have to decide on the perfect blackwork tattoo design. So how can you choose the right design for you?
In order to choose the best blackwork design for your tattoo, it is first important to note that the blackwork style enables you a wide variety of choice in subject matter.
Before making any final decisions regarding the subject matter of your blackwork tattoo design, however, it may be helpful to select the best placement for your tattoo.
One of the most popular placements for blackwork tattoos is in a sleeve design.
This is especially common among men as blackwork tattoos draw a large amount of inspiration from indigenous cultures that used tattoos as a show of status as a warrior.
Many men and women alike, however, elect to craft sleeves featuring the blackwork style. Other popular placements include the chest and shoulders.
Once you have chosen the perfect placement for your blackwork tattoo, it’s time to decide on your tattoo artist, subject matter, and size.
As always, we recommend booking with a tattoo artist that specializes in the blackwork style.
Although those specializing in the blackwork style may come at slightly higher costs than those with more general specializations, this is a surefire way to ensure the highest degree of quality.
After selecting your tattoo artist, work with them closely to develop your overall design.
Be sure to approach your artist with a plan of subject matter in mind but be willing to work with them to craft the best possible design.
When you meet with a tattoo artist with an open mind, it gives your artist the freedom to craft a design that best suits their specialty while also working to produce a high-quality product that you will be proud to wear for a lifetime.
Black-work Tattoo Designs
Looking for a little inspiration to help you choose the perfect blackwork design for you?
Check out a few of our favorite blackwork tattoo designs below!
Black-work Zoomorphic Tattoos
Black-work Floral Tattoo Designs
Black-work Japanese Tattoo Designs
Horror Black-work Tattoo Designs
Greek Mythology Tattoo Designs
Architecture Black-work Tattoo Designs
Egyptian Black-work Tattoo Designs
Ornamental Tattoo Designs
Pop-culture Black-work Tattoo Designs
Black-work Tattoo Styles
Geometric Black-work Tattoos
Sacred Geometry Black-work Tattoos
Japanese Black-work Tattoos
Abstract Black-work Tattoos
Traditional Black-work Tattoos
Negative Space Black-work Tattoos
Black-work Tattoo Ideas
Small Black-work Tattoos
Black-work Tattoo Sleeve
Simple Black-work Tattoos
Heavy Black-work Tattoos
Black-work Tattoo Artists