The Ultimate Guide to Blackwork Tattoos

Yura Gorobets avatarBy Yura Gorobets

Blackwork tattoos are heavy and intense, often using just black ink to create striking designs. This traditional tattoo style is gaining in popularity, with more and more people wanting the bold look of blackwork tattoos. In this guide, we’ll explore the most interesting things about blackwork tattoos: from the history of the style to the best artists working in blackwork today. Whether you’re looking for heavy black tattoo ideas, or simply want to explore the world of blackwork tattoos further, this info is for you!

With the blackwork tattoo, the history of tattooing literally began. The blackwork tattoo was the first to be applied to the human body, so we can safely say that it is the foundation or even the base of tattoo art. The history of blackwork tattoos dates back to ancient times when they were used as a form of ritual body modification. During this time, tattooing was traditionally performed using heavy soot or charcoal as ink and often combined with other styles such as traditional Japanese tattoos and Celtic knotwork.

Over the years, blackwork has evolved into a distinct style that is popular with both men and women. Today’s blackwork tattoos are bold and striking, combining heavy black ink with intricate patterns and geometric designs to create stunning works of art.

What is the Blackwork Tattoo Style and What are Its’ Features?

Blackwork tattoos are heavy and intense, often using just black ink to create striking designs. Blackwork is a stand-alone style that grew out of a coverup request of older tattoos.


  • Dense black paint
  • Performing dense blackwork requires a great deal of experience and serious skill
  • The tattoos are most often large scale
  • Blackwork on clean skin should be applied a maximum of 1-2 times
  • Minimalism is inherent
  • Anatomical style requires spatial thinking and the ability to see in scale from a tattoo artist
  • Abstractionism plays a special role, where shapes and their location on the body and skin are important
  • Combination with geometry

Blackwork Tattoo Artists

Of course, no discussion about blackwork would be complete without mentioning the best blackwork tattoo artists. Some of the most talented and innovative artists working in this style today include:

Combining Blackwork with other styles

The blackwork style is aesthetically compatible with any other style of tattoo, which makes it very versatile. Many artists choose to combine blackwork with other styles, such as traditional Japanese tattoos, Celtic knotwork, or even realism.

Ornament and Geometry

One of the most popular combinations of blackwork is geometric shapes and ornamental designs. Abstract patterns and dense black elements are extremely stylish in geometric and ornamental tattoos. The most popular places for such a sketch are the arms (sleeves) and legs.

Covering Up

Blackwork is a great way to cover up an old, boring, or poorly done tattoo. It can cover large-scale, complex-colored tattoos and entire sets of tattoos over a large area of skin with no problem. To cover a tattoo, you do not need to lighten it with a laser first, on the contrary, it is more correct – not to do it, as the laser reduces the “resource” of the skin, which is traumatized. All you need to do is to choose a tattoo sketch that is suitable in the size, scale, and density of the black color.

Dotwork and Linework

With the Dotwork style or dotting technique, you can add detail and accents to your tattoo. Such a combination is a striking contrast.

Total Blackwork

Yes, it’s an all-black drawing. That is, an area of the body is completely or partially covered with a dense black pigment. It can be a wide “bracelet” on the leg or arm, or the whole arm or neck can be painted.

Tribal Blackwork

Another popular style to combine with blackwork is tribal tattoos. Tribal blackwork can include heavy geometric patterns, abstract elements, and heavy black shading.

Japanese Blackwork

Some artists even pair blackwork with more traditional Japanese tattoos, such as kanji and koi. The heavy black style of blackwork is a perfect complement to traditional Japanese designs, creating a striking contrast and unique look. Despite the fact that the classic Japanese tattoo is colored, modern variations are successfully combined with blackwork.

Popular Black Tattoo Designs

Most often, this style is printed on the hand, continuing the composition on the body. Fans of blackwork also stuff ornaments, geometric shapes, and elements on the body to soften the overall picture. The latter option is the most popular among women’s tattoos – girls dilute the rough style with colors, animal silhouettes, and lines. There is a certain demand for blackwork forest tattoos – the composition looks mysterious and fascinates with a monochrome kingdom of black, peering through the tree crowns.

So, the most popular black tattoo designs:

  • blackwork tattoo sleeves (combining with geometry, dots, and ornaments) or on the forearm
  • blackwork rose
  • chaotic blackwork tattoo
  • wolf tattoo
  • moth
  • snake
  • small scary tattoos
  • trees and others.

Techniques for Applying Solid Black Ink

It is worth noting that this style is not as simple as it may seem at first glance. Many people think that it is enough to pour the pigment, dip, and paint. However, applying dense black pigment to the skin needs to know how to do it correctly, so that after healing, the tattoo remains dense, with no lighter areas. That said, dense tattooing almost always means high skin trauma. Accordingly, it is necessary to create such a tattoo in 1-2 sessions.

Also, it is necessary to look for good quality, suitable black paint, as the too viscous pigment will dry out and nothing will be in the skin. If the pigment is too liquid, there will be too much “dirt” around.

The choice of tattoo ink tone (warm or cool) also matters as the same tone will look different on different skin tones. For example, a “bluish” black will look even more “blue” on light skin.

It is important to consider factors such as the angle of the needle, the tension of the skin, and even the pose of the client. The tattoo artist must take into account a person’s anatomy while working and be able to position them correctly. Considering how the skin stretches in a person’s particular position, the tattooist will be able to predict and understand how the tattoo will look in a normal position. Also during the process of tattooing, the master should stretch the skin, beginners often do not know how to do it or do not take this moment into account.

The important point is the choice of equipment. You need a tattoo machine and needles that can push the pigment under the skin well. It is better to choose a heavier-weight tattoo machine, as the weight will compensate for the shock absorption back.

Final Words

If you are interested in getting a blackwork tattoo, there are many different styles and techniques to choose from. Whether you want a traditional heavy black tattoo or something more modern and abstract, there is sure to be an artist who can help you achieve the look you desire. However, it is important to do your research beforehand, as getting a black tattoo is a serious commitment and requires careful consideration (you will not be able to cover up it in the future). With the proper preparation, you can be sure to find an artist who can create your perfect blackwork tattoo!

Whether you’re looking for a heavy black tattoo design that is filled with intricate patterns and geometric shapes or simply want to explore the world of blackwork further, there’s something for everyone in this style! So what are you waiting for? Head to your nearest blackwork artist today and get inked!