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Tattoos with meaning: the excellence in the art of drawing

Updated on February 20, 2014

Some like and some hate, but few are indifferent to them. Tattoos are a form of individual statement, and its popularity has grown recently.

Known for over 5000 years, tattoos have evolved with time and are now starting to take a decisive step to change, thanks to the development of chemistry: with the new removable inks, tattoos lose their most striking feature - they will no longer be a compromise for life.

Not long ago, tattooing was associated with alternative characters, like rock stars, or stereotypes of the underworld.

The UK Government has adopted tattooing as a form of identification of criminals in 1879, from then the tattoo passed to have a bit of a bad reputation.

The movie industry, especially Hollywood, played a crucial role in creating feared and tattooed bad boys. One of the biggest was undoubtedly Robert de Niro as the psychopath Max Cady in Cape Fear (1991), by Martin Scorsese. Its brands have a direct connection with the crimes he had committed: in his chest, a broken heart with the name "Loretta", the love of Max that he slashed in 52 pieces.

The electric tattoo machine was patented by Samuel O'Relly in 1891, in New York.

The world's best tattoo artists

What the professionals in this article have in common is, above all, excellence in the art of drawing and artistic training. All of them are very innovative and they work with their own illustrations, without forgetting the tattoo history. There are tattoo artists who seem to do the impossible in the skin.

None of them are mainstream.


Loïc aka Xoïl, better known as just Xoïl, was born into a humble family in the French countryside.

Today Xoïl runs the studio Needles Side Tattoo. And in my humble opinion is the best in the world. He launched in Europe something new, a school that has never been seen before in someone's skin. Today he is the most coveted tattoo artist in the old continent and perhaps the world. He appoints his tattoo Photoshop Style, because yes, he uses Photoshop as aid in their compositions. Whenever I see his work I am amazed and dream the day that I will make my new tattoo with this guy.

The tattoos made by the Xoil can be easily recognized by the striking feature provided by the techniques it uses, as the graphics and the stencil in addition to its keen creativity, give the impression that the tattoo was etched or stamped.

Xoïl tattoos are true works of art.

His work is famous in Europe, and also in many places in America.

Xoïl tattoos are true works of art.
Xoïl tattoos are true works of art.

Dmitriy Samohin

Far from Hollywood, Miami, Los Angeles and all places where the tattoo programs on television are filmed, the tattooist Ukrainian Dmitry Samohin is undoubtedly one of the best artists in the history of tattoos. Works perfectly with the nearby colors, black and gray, portraits, hyper-realism or fiction, this work is unique and majestic.

Dmitriy Samohin is a young and talented tattoo artist of 33 years, born in Odessa, Ukraine. The art of Dmitriy impresses the observer for its realism. In opinion he is the best in the world in this style. Some of his works are difficult to believe.

Dmitriy developed a way of tattooing that draws our attention. They are true works of art reproduced in human skin.

With a flawless color application, he creates realistic and interesting tattoos, scenarios that leave a bit of realism itself, permeating surrealism.

Dmitriy's work is unique and majestic
Dmitriy's work is unique and majestic

Amanda Wachob

For those who want a more conceptual and abstract tattoo the name that appears more as a reference is undoubtedly Amanda Wachob. Her tattoos are from a simplicity and lightness so great that at first glance you think it is a painting.

New Yorker, she is an artist since 1998 and is also tattooist. She has held exhibitions in various galleries in the United States and his reputation is mainly due to the uniqueness of his tattoos. Amanda creates true abstract paintings on the skin; her designs look perfect paintings, with brushes. The lightness of the designs is so impressive that they do not seem tattoos.

Currently, Wachob's work in the studio Daredevil Tattoo in NYC and a session costs $ 350 (U.S. dollars).

 Wachob's simplicity and lightness...
Wachob's simplicity and lightness...

Ael Lim

Of the many excellent tattoo artists from the east, Ael Lim, from Singapore is one of the best. Among his major works are highlighted tattoos 3D, full of detail really amazing, full colors, with bright hues, lit and realism, with pictures of amazing quality.

 Ael Lim, from Singapore
Ael Lim, from Singapore

Yann Black

Yann Black is a singular artist. Working a lot the black, the red, and abstract lines, he creates playful characters and organic shapes that make us think several times about wanting something like that.

The technique of Yann, reminds a draft, almost a child's drawing, and calls attention to the paradox between the apparent simplicity of the dash and the difficulty of obtaining this result in the skin. The impression is that the drawings were made, literally, freehand.

Black tattoos men and women – attends only one customer per day - between 30 and 40 years, many of them graphic designers. Today he lives between Montreal, where he lives and has the studio YMIM (Your Meat Is Mine), and Paris, where he conducts many works also copyright, but out of the skin, such as record covers and logos for brands.

 Playful characters and organic shapes by Yann Black
Playful characters and organic shapes by Yann Black

Peter Aurisch

The German Peter Aurisch is one of the best tattoo artists in the world. With studio in Berlin, his bold and non-standardized work knocked down some walls in tattoos market in Europe. He can mix with a lot of creativity and harmony with bold and colorful scribbles, and geometric lines. The themes are modern with some classic reinterpretations, the result is surreal. The style of Peter is Peter Aurisch himself. Indefinable. More than that: unique.

Peter's creativity and harmony
Peter's creativity and harmony

Mike Giant

The New Yorker Mike Giant can be considered a complete artist, specializing in illustration, graffiti and tattoo Mike has roots in Punk (80s) and Hip Hop (90s) and skateboarding.

In tattoo, besides being a reference for many tattoo artists due to his style of painting without colors (only black), is a respected graffiti artist, with great productions made. In addition to representing these segments, Mike owns the clothing brand Rebel8 which has its traces as style.

Skulls, snakes, tattoo, women, graphite, skate, clothing, Mike is a reference at all!!

Skulls, snakes, tattoo, women, graphite, skate, clothing, Mike is a reference at all!!
Skulls, snakes, tattoo, women, graphite, skate, clothing, Mike is a reference at all!!

Scott Campbell

Tattoo artist by nature, artist by vocation.

After giving up his career as a biochemist in Texas, he escaped to San Francisco, where he began to learn to tattoo. He was out of the country for more than six years to perfect technique and find inspiration. Today it has one of the most reputed U.S. Tattoo centers, the Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn, New York. His clientele includes Marc Jacobs, Orlando Bloom, Josh Hartnett, Penelope Cruz and Helena Christensen. Heath Leadger was the first celebrity he tattooed - a flying bird in the left arm.

Scott's work
Scott's work

Benjamin Laukis

Before, it was graffiti, now he is a tattoo artist in the studio Pure Vision, which is located in Melbourne, Australia.

He entered the world of tattooing in 2008, focused on a realistic approach, as well as custom designs. He is known for making tattoos in the style known as "Portrait 3d".

His creations are tattoos of faces in 3d ranging from famous, mythological and other fictitious characters.

Benjamin's faces
Benjamin's faces

Anil Gupta

There are many others in the world that can be considered better than him, but I refer to the miniature tattoos he does.... they are perfect and with an absurd level of difficulty.

Anil Gupta is considered one of the geniuses of the modern tattoo, he is Indian by birth, and today he lives and works in the USA.

Anil Gupta: Brilliant Portrait Tattoo Artist. A time-lapse clip of a full-color portrait. Just amazing...

Jun Matsui

"The tattoo is never more important than the person wearing it"

His tattoos are practically a trademark, recognized immediately who is in the field, or know tattoos. The main characteristics of the works of Jun are the tribal-inspired designs in black and white and huge areas of the body that they involve.

Jun lives between Tokyo and São Paulo, most of their designs are done free hand and his art is pure style.

Jun's tribal-inspired designs
Jun's tribal-inspired designs

Guy Aitchison

Guy Aitchison is one of the greatest heavyweights of tattooing.

The biomechanical tattoos done by him are the best in the world ... every detail .. each color combination ... are extraordinary.

Tattoo artist for 25 years, Gyu Aitchison is super influential in the middle. Besides participating in the project Tattoo Education he wrote the book Reinventing Tattoo, a book that guides many beginners today and is in its second volume.

What strikes me in his tattoo is the wealth of detail, lighting and texture he can create in the skin. His main style is biomechanical abstract, whose hallmark is creating a surreal environment using themes and colors of nature, and organic forms.

Guy Aitchison uses themes and colors of nature, and organic forms
Guy Aitchison uses themes and colors of nature, and organic forms

Yomico Moreno

Since the age of 14, Moreno Yomico is interested in tattooing. His interest was becoming a professional tattoo artist, but also make tattoos that differentiate themselves from others. For this, Moreno began to specialize in shadows to create realistic tattoos. The designs impressed by the degree of perfection that they reach.

The style of Yomico is simply stunning, he has the eye needed to give this unique touch of realism of the third dimension and forces you to set or view to find what you are actually seeing. Not to mention the use of colors.

Bob Tyrrell

Bob Tyrrell is a world leader in the use of the black and gray tattoo. As technically innovative as impressive, Bob's unique style comes from his own techniques to mix the paint. It has revolutionized the industry by himself, and for this kind of job. The works of Bob are truly amazing.

Bob Tyrrell, born in Detroit (USA), started tattooing late, approximately with 30 years, yet he has a career that most artists can only dream of. His talent for realism in black and gray and horror tattoos makes this one of the best in the world.

Bob Tyrrell is a world leader in the use of the black and gray tattoo
Bob Tyrrell is a world leader in the use of the black and gray tattoo

Víctor Portugal

Victor Portugal was born in Uruguay and began tattooing in 1998. He currently lives in Poland. He works for a studio called Dark Times Tattoo Studio.

Victor Portugal forged his own style with strength and artistic wealth. No one equals as far as regards black and gray, its details and technique with the machine, give a unique realism and creativity to their tattoos, giving rise to hybrid tattoos that exceed perfection.

Victor's realism and creativity
Victor's realism and creativity

Robert Hernandez

Robert was born in the southern city of Prudnik, Poland, where he grew up with his family of Spanish origin.

The style of Robert Hernandez is characterized, first, by its spectacular realism and his masterful use of black and gray. Another thing that draws our attention in his tattoos, is the twisted, dark and sinister theme, something that characterizes him.

He specializes in fantastic realism, is also an expert in black and gray, and his tattoos bring to light the most sinister beings from the depths of artwork darkness.

Twisted, dark and sinister Hernandez
Twisted, dark and sinister Hernandez

Besides these tattoo geniuses, there are many more artists truly extraordinary. Many more lists could be made. This list reflects my opinion and personal taste.

Concept that goes beyond a mere drawing on the skin, the tattoo can pass a form of language, a medium through which it is possible to express the identity of the individual.

Don't forget, when you do a tattoo, you should be aware that it needs some tender loving care to remain forever young, beautiful and brilliant, so you should learn how to keep them looking new for a long time.

Nowadays, the tattoo acquired aspects of artwork. It is a variety of designs to suit the personal taste of each. What once was viewed with some prejudice, today usually manifests itself as an act of people who have attitude and do not care much about the opinion of others.

We can not deny that some anti-social groups use tattoos as a form of recognition and even hierarchy. Among these are the Russian prisoners. When the tattoo artist's needle touches the skin of a Russian prisoner, the brand has a special meaning as you can read in this informative hub: the amazing and complex Russian criminal prison tattoos

Anyway, and as we have seen, there are tattoo artists who seem to do the impossible in the skin...


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    • ladydeonne profile image

      Deonne Anderson 4 years ago from Florence, SC

      This article really kept my attention and changed my perspective. Your presentation is very well written and packed with information on the art of tattooing. Your list and introduction of renown tattoo artists all over the world of the varied genres is superb and exhaustive. I had no idea that tattooing is such a refined and artistic skill. I loved many of the drawings and was delighted to read the bio of the artists. I have gained a new respect for the artists as well as the art. Thanks for the lesson and for sharing your wealth of knowledge. Voted up, awesome and sharing.