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Tattoo art has come a long way since its beginning. Though there is still a timeless beauty to the classic tattoo art styles, modern advances in equipment and techniques along with new creative minds rapidly emerging on the scene have paved the way for many fascinating new tattoo art styles. Though many of these styles have been seen in the art world for quite some time, they are still fairly new when taken in the context of the 12,000-year-old history of tattoos. The style we’d like to showcase today is realism.

Realism Skull and Moth

Realism, also sometimes referred to as photorealism, is a term in the art world that refers to detailed and accurate representations of real-life imagery. Realism as we know it today originally came about in France in the 1850s as a response to the romantic art movement that preceded it. When realism is done right, it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between a drawing or painting and a photograph.

Mastering this technique on paper is difficult in itself, but taking those same principals and applying them to skin is something artists spend years of dedicated practice to master! A realism tattoo done by an inexperienced artist or someone who hasn’t trained in that particular style can be a disaster, this is why it’s always a good idea to choose your tattoo artist wisely when dreaming up a hyper-realistic tattoo idea.

What are the basic types of realism tattoos?

The two basic styles of realism tattoo art are black and grey realism and color realism. Black and grey just like the name suggests, only utilizes black and grey ink, creating effects akin to a black and white photo. Black and grey is by far the easier of the two styles to master. By eliminating color, the artist is able to focus their full attention on details and shading.

Realism Tattoo Octopus

Full-color realism, on the other hand, adds a whole extra element to the equation. Not only do full-color realism tattoos require an extreme level of concentration and skill, but they can also be quite time-consuming. Often requiring multiple detailed layers to achieve the final results. When done well, however, the final product can look real enough to reach out and grab!

Space Sleeve Tattoo - Color Realism

What type of imagery can be done in the realism style?

When it comes to picking an image for a photorealistic tattoo, the sky is the limit! Pretty much anything that can be seen or captured on film can be turned into the perfect tattoo by an experienced artist.

That being said, there are a few subjects that tend to be the most popular choices for realism tattoos. One of the most common and popular standbys are portraits. These can vary from portraits of loved ones to celebrities or even pets. Many realism tattoo artists specialize entirely on realistic portraits, making them the bread and butter of the realism tattoo industry.

Another eye-catching subject for realism tattoo is nature. This can range from incredibly detailed flowers or animals to vast landscapes. Smaller subjects like flowers can be a nice option for someone wanting a piece of realism without devoting the space for a large-scale project. A landscape, on the other hand, can be a beautiful option for a large-format tattoo.

Fans or gore and the macabre have also developed a love for realism tattoo. The 3D effects that can be achieved with realism lend themselves well to torn flesh and all things spooky, perfect for making someone’s skin crawl if that’s the effect you’re going for!

Elephant Black and Grey Realism Tattoo

But the possibilities don’t end there. When it comes to realism tattoo, the inspiration is all around you!

How do I pick a realism tattoo artist?

The decision of picking the right artist for your realism tattoo should not be taken lightly. When going for realism, experience is really important. Look through portfolios until you find someone whose style is a perfect match for what you envision.

At Chronic Ink in Toronto, Vancouver and Markham, we have a few of the best tattoo artists who specialize in both color and black and white realism who have experience with a wide range of subject matter. Check out our artists‘ portfolios online or contact Chronic Ink to schedule a tattoo consultation and let our experts bring your idea to life!

Color Realism - Hearts and Gems

Ready to get your new tattoo?

At Chronic Ink, we have some of the best realism tattoo artists in Toronto & Vancouver. We welcome walk-ins for consultations at our Downtown Toronto, Midtown Toronto, Markham and Newmarket locations. No appointment necessary or contact us and let us know your idea today.

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Tattoo Locations

Downtown Toronto

378 Yonge Street,
2nd Floor,
Toronto & Vancouver, Ontario
M5B 1S6

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Midtown Toronto

252 Eglinton Ave East,
2nd Floor,
Toronto & Vancouver, Ontario
M4P 1K2

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Markham

7381 Kennedy Road,
Unit #105,
Markham, Ontario
L3R 5B5

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Newmarket

Upper Canada Mall
17600 Yonge Street,
Newmarket, ON
L3Y 4Z1

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