How Do I Choose My Tattoo Style


You’re ready to get a tattoo but aren’t sure about which style you should get the work done in. To clarify, style is different from design. The latter (design) relates to the person, place, or thing that the tattoo will be of, while the former (style) references the general look of the tattoo. While there are many nuances beyond and between, varying styles include but are not exclusive to the following (in no particular order):

  • American Traditional
  • New School
  • Japanese
  • Black & Grey
  • Blackwork
  • Fine Line
  • Stick & Poke
  • Biomechanical
  • Geometric
  • Realism
  • Surrealism

With that out of the way, we can now breakdown how to choose your tattoo style.

5 Things to Consider When Deliberating Which Style of Tattooing You Should Choose for Your Next Work of Body Art

Preferred Subject Matter

Certain tattoo styles lend themselves better to subject matter than others. For instance, nautical designs such as sharks, mermaids, and ships are well-suited to American Traditional. Japanese style is often preferred for the likes of dragons, tigers, and koi. Fantasy and mythological based designs work extremely well with Black & Grey and animated characters really pop in the New School method. The Fine Line style is ideal for florals and even landscapes and mountains while Realism connects best for portraits and memorial tattoos. Simply put, once you know what your subject matter will be, you can then consult with your tattooist to determine styles that generally best match the person, place, or thing.

Willingness for Aftercare and Maintenance 

Some tattoo styles are easier to maintain than others. For example, due to the depth of ink penetration and ink tone a blackwork tattoo generally ages better with limited aftercare and maintenance. Meanwhile, a fine line tattoo, which is more delicate in nature and does not have the same depth of ink penetration does not age as well without dedication to longterm care. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t want to give much thought to maintenance, it’s better to go with something bold with strong lines and tones like American Traditional or Blackwork.

Your Personality

It’s not a stretch to suggest that tattoo styles often match client personalities. Free spirits may gravitate to Surrealism while buttoned-down types might prefer the Geometric style. Sensitive and delicate souls may logically prefer Fine Line and conservatives flock to American Traditional and Blackwork. You get the idea.

Love at First Sight

There’s no need to complicate things. Simply choose a style that connects with you as soon as you lay your eyes on it. Love at first sight is the primary indicator that a certain style is for YOU. Simply perform a Google Image search of each tattoo style that we listed above and scroll through the respective results and wait for the butterflies to flutter in your tummy.

Access to Specialists

We’re firm believers that designs done in a certain style should be completed by tattooists who specialize in that style. This belief is why Sleight of Hand (SOH) Tattoo in Vancouver BC has handpicked each and every artist to cover the spectrum of tattoo styles. This fact provides clients with complete confidence that they are getting the work done from someone who knows the style better than area peers. Have a look at tattoo shop portfolios (such as ours) to see if tattooists are “labelled” by their specializations.


We hope that we helped you come to a conclusion for your question of “How Do I Choose My Tattoo Style?” and that you’re ready to take the next step. If located in or visiting the Greater Vancouver BC area be sure to schedule a consultation at SOH Tattoo today.

Written By:

Sleight of Hand

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