Whether you’re pro-tattooing or not, you have probably witnessed an outbreak of recent articles declaring that tattooing is no longer the exclusive domain of bikers and general “badasses” — even though tattooing has been around a lot longer than both groups, and hasn’t actually belonged to either. However, it is a fact that in the new millenium, tattooing has received a dramatic redefinition. It has found a place smack in the middle of mainstream Western culture and drilled itself deep in the “average” middle class, where it seems to be thriving. Over the past few decades, the colours have become more vivid, the techniques stronger and the spectrum of styles and subjects has expanded.
It’s only natural that in this digital generation, tattoo artists have taken to Instagram as an effective platform to showcase their impressive portfolios. If you’re a tattoo enthusiast or just someone who wants a daily dose of extraordinary body art in your Instagram feed, this list is for you.
Roxx’s work is a celebration of the human form. She derives inspiration from indigenous art, architecture and the divine forms of sacred geometry. Her style of work is somewhat offbeat - she picks up on the energy of her clients and creates a design she thinks is appropriate after only a brief consultation and people, more often than not, do not contest her high-concept tattoos. What sets her apart for us is that her phenomenal work is rooted in an entirely monochromatic palette.
Tip - That’s roxx with five underscores - just letting you know so you don’t miss out on the tattoo heaven that is her instagram account.
We’re in absolute awe of the incredible detail and complexity of her work. Dominique Holmes’s tattoos incorporate Eastern elements and design styles from intricate Mehndi patterns to Japanese Woodcuts, Tibetan Thangka paintings and Islamic design, and integrates these symbolisms with traditional Western art and tattooing techniques to create her signature linear style.
Kym Munster specializes in abstract themes and water colour tattoos. Kym has a style that is entirely her own; packed with sketchy line work, laden with vivid colours and abundant in detail owing to her background in medical illustration that also makes her work anatomically precise. Kym is influenced by a host of other women in the industry with the likes of Jo Harrison, Hannah Aitchison and Katie Doty being some of her favourites.
From cute to scary, geeky to nature-inspired, Abbie William’s tattoos cover a wide range of subject matter, all executed in her unparalleled style. She is relatively new to the art of tattooing but has already garnered a dizzying level of popularity because her work is just that good.
Dr Woo may just be the coolest tattoo artist in the world. His portfolio is an amalgamation of black and gray fine lines and his work consciously represents the “less is more” mantra. His focus remains building texture and using minimal colour. His tattoos are truly unique and beautiful, which is why he features on this list and is one of the most coveted tattooers in the world--the subtlety is unparalleled.
Chaim Machlev is widely sought-after for his evolved style of almost free-flowing line art and complex geometric patterns that are partly completed with a stippling technique. All of his tattoos speak of a heightened level of skill and precision too.
Keith McCurdy’s style is multi-dimensional. He takes inspiration from various artists, different styles, traditional Japanese tattooing styles and realistic tattoos. While realistic art is a big influence on his work, he also looks to Renaissance and Surrealistic art for inspiration. His roster of clients is rather star-studded and includes the likes of Rihanna, Cara Delevigne, Katy Perry and Rita Ora, among others.
Kenji Alucky’s exquisite tattoos are jam packed with geometric forms, both natural and mathematical, and are executed using the stippling technique that he has mastered over the years. His skill, knowing where to place a tattoo and originality are unprecedented.
Nikko Hurtado is an incredibly talented tattoo artist best known for his hyper-realistic coloured portrait tattoos. His work went viral in the tattoo world long before we had social media to do that for us. From his renderings of Lucille Ball to pop-culture icons like Lana Del Ray and Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman, you will find it difficult to wrap your mind around the fact that these are, in fact, tattoos and not painting or photographs.
Thomas Hooper is best known in the tattoo world for his intricate and highly detailed work that draws inspiration for nature and geometric and mathematical patterns as well as religious symbols from the east. His love for repetitive patterns stems from his admiration of traditional Japanese tattooing.
“Give me a part of your skin and I’ll give you a piece of my soul.” - this is what Jay Freestyle’s bio on Instagram reads. If this doesn’t convince you to follow him on Instagram, maybe his stunning watercolour tattoos will. His tattoos are, more often than not, spontaneous and improvised on the spot so signing up for getting permanently inked by him comes with a fair share of being adventurous.
Valentin Hirsch is a German tattoo artist whose gorgeous, highly detailed black-work tattoos caught our eye. His tattoos have a sophisticated, distinctly illustrative edge that we’re in love with. With particular attention to animals, these traditional tattoos are inarguably works of art and we’re happy that they’re permanent.
Words: Rhea Baweja