The Skill of the Single Black Line Tattoo

The Skill of the Single Black Line Tattoo

There are mixed viewpoints on this simple stylistic tattoo.

If you see a line tattoo like this on Instagram, you'll notice it's always accompanied by mixed opinions from the general public.

A thin, single, black line tattoo is clearly very different from something with more 'substance' - there's no shading, highlights, dimensions... which would explain why sometimes, people just don't understand why someone would get this type of tattoo. For me, this straight line tattoo is interesting, artistic and shows the immense skill level of the artist executing it.

These seemingly simple tattoos challenge modern perceptions of tattooing and art.

In other words, it takes serious skills to be able to create a successful black line tattoo. You might think that being able to create a straight line is something pretty basic, and with many traditional styles, it is something you'd be expected to master early on. However, some tattoo styles, and indeed some tattooists, would see a single long straight line as a huge challenge. Without any surrounding images to distract the eye, an artist's steady hand is really on show to the world. Fuck that line up even a tiny bit, and it's going to be pretty damn obvious.

Matching line tattoos by Michelle Santana, West 4 Tattoos, NYC, photo from Instagram #linetattoo #blacktattoos #singlelinetattoo #michellesantana

Not all art is watercolor flowers or traditional ships. Art is as weird, abstract and unusual as can possibly be conceived, and I love that these seemingly simple tattoos challenge modern perceptions of tattooing and art. With the right placement, a single line tattoo can be pure beauty. 

Small line tattoo by Michelle Santana, West 4 Tattoos, NYC, photo from Instagram #linetattoo #blacktattoos #singlelinetattoo #michellesantana

Not all line tattoos are created with a tattoo machine either. The tattoos below were created by my good friend, handpoke artist Mike Love. Mike creates all tattoos 'by hand' - something that, again, requires an epic level of skill, concentration and attention to detail.

And what about negative space line tattoos?! The below picture is from Jay Read (IG-JiltedRoyalty) who is currently working on an epic bodysuit which includes many solid negative space lines and shapes.

Black bodysuit, photo by Jay Read from Jay's Instagram (IG-JiltedRoyalty) #blackwork #blacksleeve #negativespace

What do you think of the single line tattoo? I want to hear your thoughts!

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