Like any medium, tattoo styles go in and out of fashion with the changing years and seasons. This year, it looks like blacked out tattoos are the hottest thing off the fashion pipeline. Just make sure you’re ready to commit to this tattoo, because there’s no covering it up.
In recent years, bloggers and celebrities have been leading the charge on small and delicate tattoos, but recently the pendulum has swung in the other direction. Now, it’s blackout tattoos that are taking over Instagram. Of course, these big, bold, and dark tattoos are not for the faint of heart. Work like the one below takes a lot of time in the chair.
Tattoo artist Chester Lee of Oracle Tattoo Shop in Singapore is an expert in blackout tattooing, having specialized in it for roughly five years. The above shot is an example of his work. “That particular piece, I had been at it for a couple of months, about 20 odd hours,” Lee said.
Of course, Lee isn’t the only artist working in blackout tattooing—the technique has become very popular for cover-ups—but he and others have developed their own style. Roxx, founder and owner of San Francisco tattoo parlor Roxx and Cats Tattoo combines large patches of blackout tattoos with more delicate and geometric work. “People who come to me are people who really don’t want to get tattooed that much,” Roxx told GQ. “Then they saw my work, and something changed.”
Lee says blackout tattoos are still “an acquired taste,” but it definitely seems like the Internet is catching on. His work and others’ have gone viral on Instagram and are popping up on websites of every kind. “Slowly, the new generation is appreciating the cleanliness of this kind of work and the art of looking at just shapes and lines that emphasize the contours of the body,” Lee said.
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Why are blackout tattoos trending?
You may have noticed more folks sporting blackout tats lately. These unique ink jobs involve covering large areas of skin – we’re talking chest, back, arms, legs – with solid black ink. Blackout tats have gotten crazy popular thanks to their cool look and convenient ability to hide old, unwanted tats.
But before you book your next ink session, know that blackout tats come with some not-so-fun risks. We’re talking potential allergic reactions, skin rashes, tissue inflammation, and even the ink seeping into your blood (yikes!). They also make it tough for derms to screen for skin cancer. Still, some tattoo lovers embrace the risks to cover up old memories or rock a bold, blacked-out look.
What’s the point of a blackout tattoo?
People get blackout tats for different reasons. Many use them to conceal existing ink they’ve come to dislike. Others dig the unique statement piece and aesthetic.
No matter why you get one, blackout tats mean covering a large area of skin – typically the arms or legs – in solid black ink without any shading or colors mixed in.
Sure, they look edgy, but health risks like allergic reactions, rashes, and potential blood poisoning lurk beneath the surface. Blackout tats also obscure skin, making it impossible for derms to screen for cancer. So while more folks are turning to blackout ink, criticism over safety is growing too.
Who invented blackout tattoos?
Blackout tatting, with its Polynesian, South Asian and Sub-Saharan African roots, has always meant inking skin completely black – often to hide existing work or make a statement. Modern blackout ink draws inspiration from traditional Polynesian body art, graphic designs, and neo-tribal trends.
But the current craze took off thanks to Singaporean artist Chester Lee. When his blackout pieces went viral on Instagram in 2016, the distinctive look attracted eyes worldwide.
Blackout tats also gained ground as fashionable symbols of grief across South Asia, where local inking techniques already dominated. It wasn’t long before the blackout tattoo movement spread globally as a mainstream body mod and style choice.
Can you remove a blackout tattoo?
Good news – it is possible to remove a blackout tat. But covering large skin surfaces with dense black ink often makes for a lengthy, expensive removal process. While laser removal can eliminate unwanted tats, it may not completely banish blackout ink.
The treatment can also leave skin scarred or darkened. How many sessions you need varies based on factors like tat size and depth. And surgical procedures or microdermabrasion may better target stubborn blackout tats.
Just remember, erasing these tats takes time and cash, with no guarantee your skin will look like new again. So think hard before getting blacked out!
What do you think? Would you consider getting a blackout tattoo? What about something more geometric, like Roxx’s work?
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website’s content and editorial direction since 2018. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra’s expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.