Old school tattoo designs feature tried and trusted elements that have been keeping people coming back to the tattoo parlors for years. But just like any profession, tattooing has evolved and transformed into something that meets the needs of modern society. While parlors still make most of their sales from the old school designs, more and more people are choosing to get abstract designs inspired by watercolor paintings, inkblots and pop art.
One of the biggest inspirations for this movement is Ralph Steadman, the man who did all of the artwork for Hunter S. Thompson’s books. His approach to art used a chaotic, drug-fueled approach that incorporated plenty of inkblots and characters who looked like they were going through hallucinations. While not all of the following watercolor tattoo designs on this list are as hippie dippie as Ralph Steadman’s work, they wouldn’t be out of place at a rave, indie rock show or dubstep/EDM event. If you’re interested in getting a watercolor tattoo, check out these awesome examples for inspiration.
Inkblot Flower on the Shoulder
This spectacular shoulder tattoo for women combines the beauty of a lotus flower with the chaos of inkblot artwork. Notice how the flowers contrast against the black ink and make the tattoo really stand out.
Inked Forearm Tattoo
This cool forearm tattoo design is completely random and makes no logical sense to classically trained tattoo artists. If you want a piece like this on your own arm, try finding an artist who is willing to experiment and already uses a lot of nontraditional techniques in his or her work.
Left Brain, Right Brain Chest Tattoo
The left brain, right brain dichotomy has proven to be just a myth, but the imagery of this tattoo makes it completely believable. The left brain portion is black and white while the right brain portion of this exceptional chest tattoo features extraordinary watercolor techniques.
Dark Dandelion Back Tattoo
Check out this cool dandelion tattoo that challenges your perception of the plant with a black inkblot flower and blue and purple watercolor decoration for a dark effect.
Abstract Back of the Neck Tattoo
Here is another black inkblot, blue and purple watercolor tattoo that incorporates an abstract design of semicircles and a long line that adds beauty to the neck.
Love Key Wrist Tattoo
The person who got this tattoo realizes that love is an abstract concept that needs to be thought of outside the lines. The key in the middle adds a touch of old school tattoo beauty to the wrist tattoo.
Psychedelic Watch Wrist Tattoo
Here is an awesome example of a wrist tattoo that explodes with color. The traditional watch is accompanied by awesome psychedelic drips that make the watch look like its melting in some kind of hallucination.
Sketchy Rose Tattoo
The sketchy rose tattoo on the back of this woman’s neck combines one of the oldest tattoo traditions for women with some of the newer watercolor techniques.
Watercolor Macaw Shoulder Tattoo
A macaw is one of the most colorful animals in all of nature and lends itself perfectly for the watercolor treatment in this stunning shoulder tattoo.
Chaotic Compass Hand Tattoo
Here is another awesome example of old school meeting new school. The compass is a traditional tattoo accompanied by traditional feathers, but it gets a bit of inkblot treatment for modernization. The watercolors going above the hand add to the stunning effect.
Angelfish Lower Back Tattoo
This lower back tattoo is by no means another dolphin tramp stamp. It is a classy looking watercolor piece that utilizes the wispy nature of angelfish and hugs the hip, ribs and lower back extremely well.
Disintegrating Spectrum Tattoo
A watercolor tattoo and gay rights just makes sense. This person was probably inspired by the gay pride flag and decided to get a forearm tattoo that showed his pride, with a little bit of extra creativity thrown in for good measure.
Abstract Watercolors with Black Ink Spirals
This is one of the most complicated tattoos on the list. It uses a really cool spiral, almost tribal pattern and brings it to life with some chaotic inkblots, red watercolors and random circles all over. It is a good full sleeve tattoo for a woman, but could also be worn by a dude.
Here are some simple polygonal doves, or cranes if that’s how you interpret them, that are brought to life by using randoms splashes of watercolor ink techniques.
Abstract Forearm Cone
Another random geometrical shape, this cone tattoo on the forearm is a piece of abstract art that will leave people guessing and asking questions.
When getting one of these watercolor tattoo designs, you don’t really need the expertise of a tattoo artist to draw them for you. Come in with your own sketch or design, have them refine it and then expertly ink it onto your skin for the most personal piece of art.