Illustrative blackwork makes for the most mystifying of tattoos. This dark style is ideal for creating imagery that flirts with the paranormal and communes with the supernatural. To demonstrate the allure of this moody genre of body art we conjured up some of the pieces that recently put a spell on us. We’ve culled together everything from creatures of the night, like Leslie Karin’s desert bats, to skeletons riding on a tiger — as seen in Erick Cuevas' piece — and sorceresses practicing white magic.
Some of most possessing pieces of fine-lined and lightly stippled blackwork that we’ve spied lately have been of beautiful women. The pieces here by Susanne König, Van Priegonova, and Shannon Elliott remind us of nude maidens dancing around a maypole in the moonlight.
The shadowy aesthetic of Simone Ruco’s work brings out the fearsomeness of figures like bali masks, while Cezilia Hjelt’s (who also creates Dantean paintings) take on the style has a sub foreboding feeling to it. As far as being frightening goes, Artem Tkachenko’s sharp and refined approach to blackwork could turn any view to stone.
Blackwork is one of the few fields in which artists are frequently doing hand-poked tattoos, and we’ve seen a few of these painstaking pieces that rival the excellence of their machine-made counterparts. Tati Compton’s mystical pinup left sable stars in our eyes, and Jenna Bouma rock of ages back-piece showed us how enough patience and thousands of tiny dots can make the miraculous take shape.
To be mesmerized by more illustrative blackwork, follow all of these artists on Instagram. If you’re considering getting a tattoo that conspires with the occult, we suggest that you call upon one of these masters of the craft to inscribe your skin. All of their work is magical.