New and familiar trends take ink to a whole new level


Courtesy of Tiara Gordon/ American Skin Art

Watercolor tattoos, like the one above, have recently become a more popular way of decorating your body.

Choosing a tattoo used to be simple. First pick out the design, picture or quote that you wanted. Then, you choose either a simple black and white layout, or a vibrant, colorful piece of art.

Fast forward to 2013, when the options have multiplied and new trends have emerged.

There are now white, UV, blackwork, and watercolor tattoos. Each of these styles separates them from the traditional standard. But the question is: What makes them so trendy?

Say you want a tattoo that is easily concealable, but still visible so that it can be shown off — a simple tattoo, but still creative and unique to you. White tattoos may be just the type of ink you are looking for.

White tattoos have become relatively popular due to social media and blogging sites like Tumblr and Pinterest. Unlike traditional ink, either in rich black or pure color, they are done with the whitest ink available. They are usually smaller, done on parts of the body that are easily covered (like the inner wrist). They’re also more common among women, and show the most visibly on medium to darker skin tones.

While the tattoos themselves look simple and elegant, white tattoos can prove to be some of the more difficult pieces for artists. If the artist doesn’t go deep enough into the skin, the ink may discolor into a pale yellow color.

Also, in contrast to their initial delicate appearance, white tattoos often take a turn for the worse.  Otis Arterberry, a local tattoo artist at American Skin Art, often voices against them.

“They look real cool at first,” he said. “The skin is red and the white ink puffs out, but after three months the ink fades, and you’re left with a scar that looks like it was carved with a knife.”

If a white tattoo is still a tad too visible for you, UV ink is the way to go. UV tattoos started in the late 1990s to the early 2000s. They were highly popular among rave culture, but have become increasingly abundant today.

UV ink can range from white to purple, to neon orange and hot pink. Originally, the inks used to get the tattoos glowing contained varying amounts of carcinogens, which resulted in varying symptoms from rashes to peeling. While the FDA still hasn’t approved it, UV ink has become much safer in the recent years.

Many people chose a UV tattoo because most are completely invisible to the naked eye. However, many opt to have an existing tattoo outlined in UV ink to make the piece more unique.  While they seem simple enough, UV tattoos require numerous touch ups to prevent fading or discoloration.

If concealment isn’t an issue, watercolor tattoos are a colorful option and a rising trend in the tattoo world. These pieces contain no black outline whatsoever, which allows the artist free use of the ink. The tattoo looks like something lifted right out of a child’s paint book. Colors appear to be delicately smeared across the canvas of human skin.

These are the most difficult of all trending tattoos, due to the lack of a thin black ink outline. Without the outline, the colors are more prone to “blow out,” or heal outside of their original location, if not done by a skilled artist.

Few artists in the Buffalo area are capable of doing such pieces. Tiara Gordon at American Skin Art is one of the few.

“I love doing these types of pieces,” she said. “Buffalo has more traditional tattoos, and these are far from it.”

While watercolor might be in the spotlight, some appreciate the simplicity of blackwork tattoos.  The term “blackwork” refers to tattoos that are comprised solely of heavy, black ink. They can range from minimalist lines to complex pieces that use both the black ink and plain skin to paint the picture.

Blackwork is often mistaken for the work of someone with a black marker. The tattoos are often found on wrists, forearms, ankles, the back, and shoulder blades. Even the smallest piece requires a ton of precision, and an even larger amount of ink. Many people underestimate the amount of time needed to have them done properly.

Like the world of fashion, trends in the tattoo world are always changing. New techniques and styles are constantly being developed that push artists’ creativity to the limit. The four listed here are only the beginning of what the tattoo world has to offer. One thing is for certain — ink lovers everywhere are loving their newest options.

“Traditional tattoos are so widely used that they are no longer unique,” student and tattoo enthusiast Tim Adowski said. “And that is what getting a tattoo is all about.  It’s about making yourself unique.”


Email: [email protected]