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Getting a tattoo is a big decision. Choosing which tattoo to get is an even bigger one. Before heading off to the tattoo parlor, it’s a good idea to understand the most common types of tattoos, what they mean, and why people have them. This knowledge can help you determine which option is best for you.

1. Tribal Tattoos

Tribal tattoos are those that use dots and lines to make up large patterns. This style comes from ancient civilizations, such as the Samoan, Aztec, Indian, and Polynesian tribes. These are done solely with black ink.

2. Geometric Tattoos

Geometric tattoos are designs that are made up of geometric styles. You can have just about any image you can imagine turned into a geometric tattoo, which you can have designed with sharp lines, a flowy design, or in a mechanical manner.

Most are inspired by tribal designs, but they come in many shapes. You might see flowers, animals, mandalas, and more in geometric designs.

3. Watercolor Tattoos

Watercolor tattoos are those that look like a watercolor painting you might see hanging on someone’s wall. This is why most people choose them – they love the appearance of watercolor paintings.

Additionally, they work really well to cover up other tattoos. And like the paintings, a good tattoo artist can make any item you want look great as a watercolor tattoo.

4. Japanese Tattoos

Japanese tattoos have been a favorite for years. They are beautiful, intricately designed tattoos that use symbolism to tell a story. If you choose a Japanese tattoo, be sure you take some time to research the symbolism so you’re telling the right story.

5. Negative Space Tattoos

Negative space tattoos take a different or reverse approach to traditional tattoos. Tattoos are normally designed by first creating an outline with ink, and then filling in the space. With a negative space tattoo, the skin is actually the outline. The skin is also used for the negative or blank space of the tattoo. Negative space effects can be used alone or be part of another tattoo style.

6. Text-Based Tattoos

Text-based tattoos are exactly what they sound like. They are tattoos of words. These come in a variety of texts, including a motto to live by, a Bible verse, a famous quote, a religious text, and a person’s name.

If you choose a text-based tattoo, you can choose from a variety of fonts and letter coloring. The lettering can be alone or with an image, and it can go well on just about any part of the body.

7. Portrait Tattoos

Portrait tattoos are those where a person gets an image of someone tattooed on them. Most often, the subject is someone they’ve lost, someone they admire, or someone they deeply love. Portrait tattoos can be completed in black and white or colored ink, depending on your preferences.

The tattoo world is as diverse as other parts of the art world, so the options listed here are just a handful. However, they should get your creativity flowing so you can get started with choosing a style or design.

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