Realism & Black/Grey

There are many different styles, designs, and concepts within this popular genre. Dark art, horror, surrealism, (celebrity) portraits, movie stills, sculptures and so much more. This is the magic of Realism; bringing together all these things in life onto the moving canvas that is your body.

Definitely one of the most recognizable things of realism tattooing is the stencil. For anyone who has gotten a realistic tattoo, you’ve probably noticed the insane detailed looking stencil. A thousand lines and shapes that mark areas of shading and highlights, like a topographic map. There are many ways to make a realism tattoo, but what is absolutely sure, is that this particular style requires a lot of planning beforehand, along with a lot of technical skills and knowledge on how a tattoo heals over time. Often realism tattoos look great while fresh, but heal up very badly when not applied with the right set of skills.


male back with tiger tattoo black and grey

Māori / Tā Moko

This style originates in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and originally had the face as its focal point; for men it extended over the entire face, while for women it was limited to the chin and lip area. Some Māori also had other parts of the body tattooed, such as their back, buttocks and legs. 

Unlike the Marquesan and Samoan tattoos, the Māori tattoo does not include extensive backgrounds of black. The contrast is given by the large amount of lines which, dense close to each other, give life to curvilinear movements and patterns composed of powerful and meaningful symbols. An important role is played by the negative space, which dynamically crosses the composition, giving it organicity and readability.


Samoan / Tatau

Peʻa is the popular name for the traditional male tatau (tattoo) of Samoa, also known as malofie (for men) or malu (for women). Covering the body from the middle of the back to the knees, it was originally tattooed exclusively on that part of the body.

Despite being denser and more refined than Marquesan tattooing, also the Samoan one includes massive areas filled with black (for men). Also in this case the Samoan tattoo was intended to protect the wearer as well as to represent the social rank of belonging. Nowadays it has been revisited in modern tattooing and adapted to almost every part of the body, gaining popularity in Western culture.


Marquesan - Patutiki

This style of tattoo comes from the Marquesas Islands, a group of volcanic islands in French Polynesia. It is recognized by the squared layout, a solid negative space runs along all the design, dividing the symbols and the black tattooed areas. The negative space is essential to give light and power to the composition and to the anatomy of the person wearing it.

Like most tribal populations, the Marquesas were a people of warriors and navigators; these tattoos were intended to act as armor and protect the person who wore them through the energy emanating from the symbols represented. The original name of the practice is Patutiki (patu, to mark or strike; tiki, designs). It was performed by the Tuhuna, accompanied by ceremonies and rituals which their preparation required several days to be made.