Sure - as tattoos entered the mainstream the technology improved. Inks, machines and even healing practices have all seen advancement in the last few decades that have resulted in cleaner, crisper tattoos that tend to last longer and age better than ever before.
But as in any field that sees an explosion of growth (tattoos are a multi-billion dollar industry with over 20,000 shops in the USA alone - are you listening high school guidance counselors?) there are always those in the vanguard not satisfied with maintaining the staus-quo. And in the world of tattoos the consumer also drives the evolution of the art. As more and more people get ink (hovering close to 30%) you have more and more skins wanting to push the envelope and stand out from the tattooed pack.
Everyday I see numerous articles showcasing ink. Some of it is excellent and makes me wish I had five or six more arms. Some of it is tragic and provides me with a quick laugh at some poor bastard's expense (what else is the internet for?) and most of it involves under-boob tattoos (sigh - can we please can this trend or at least the relentless promotion of it? I think tattoos look mad-sexy on women and men but let's leave a little bit to the imagination, OK?)
Now that tattoos are basically mainstream and having a tattoo is no more radical than having a double ear-piercing how do you break out from the pack? Sure, under-boob tattoos are one way to go but how about one of these hyper-unique styles?
Watercolor tattoos have been around for a bit but now more and more artists of great talent are exploring this loose, interpretive style.
Pros: Artistic and colorful and each one tends to be unique
Cons: Bold will hold - but how will these tats with no outlines look 10 or 20 years down the road? Time will tell...road? Time will tell...
Red Ink Tattoos
How is this even a style? Well, it's unique as hell in that until very recently red ink was considered the ...ah...red-headed step child of the tattoo world. Red ink tended to be more likely to cause a reaction and quicker to fade. Also it was considered one of the most challenging colors to laser-off (I was told this by a laser removal tech who surveyed my crap first tattoo with heavy red banding. After a looong explanation that contained words like, "blisters, scarring, extremely painful and 1000 to 2000 dollars I had the damn thing covered) Now the inks have improved enough and it is considered less of an issue. There is something very striking about these tattoos - set aside not by their subject matter or execution but simply by their color.
Pros: Visually arresting
Cons: What happens if you get a bad sunburn? think about it....
Photoshop Style Tattoos
Talk about some high concept ink. Go on...talk about it. Do you love it? Hate it? This style is so different that you can get into a 40 paragraph "argument" with an online tattoo nerd about it's origins. (I don't recommend doing this - it will take up your whole day). In a nutshell the style employs a variety of elements - many taken from photographs and combined in a noir-ish literary format.
Pros: Pretty damn cool looking and bound to be an original
Cons: 40 paragraph online arguments with tattoo nerds who want to pound you over proper terminology - you've been warned.
Realistic Trash Polka
Quoi? Exactly. This style was created by the Buena Vista Tattoo Club and the name is their creation. The style - as a rule - involves black and red ink, photo images drawn from fashion, movies and horror and is bold, edgy and dark. Photo Realism is considered to be an offshoot of Trash Polka.
Pros: Best tattoo style name EVER - plus very distinctive and interesting
Cons: You are in the upper echelon of tattoo geekdom here - be prepared to defend, explain and correct people constantly about your work. Get yourself a good online name like fuckuitsmytatoo666 and get ready to do battle on the online forums - people take this shit seriously
Which is your favorite style?
Would you ever consider getting one of these high-concept tattoos?