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The Blackout Tattoo Trend: Too Cool or Too Extreme?

Like any medium, tattoo styles go in and out of fashion with the changing years and seasons. This year, it looks like blacked out tattoos are the hottest thing off the fashion pipeline, just make sure you're ready to commit to this tattoo, because there's no covering it up.

In recent years, bloggers and celebrities have been leading the charge on small and delicate tattoos, but recently the pendulum has swung in the other direction. Now, it's blackout tattoos that are taking over Instagram. Of course, these big, bold, and dark tattoos are not for the faint of heart. Work like the one below takes a lot of time in the chair.


A photo posted by C H E S T E R (@oddtattooer) on

Tattoo artist Chester Lee of Oracle Tattoo shop in Singapore is an expert in blackout tattooing, having specialized in it for roughly five years. The above shot is an example of his work. "That particular piece I [had] been at it for couple of months, about 20 odd hours," Lee said.

A photo posted by ROXX (@roxx_____) on Mar 10, 2015 at 7:29pm PDT

Of course, Lee isn't the only artist working in blackout tattooing—the technique has become very popular for cover-ups—but he and others have developed their own style. Roxx, founder and owner of San Francisco tattoo parlor 2Spirit Tattoo combines large patches of blackout tattoos with more delicate and geometric work. "People who come to me are people that really didn't want to get tattooed that much," Roxx told GQ. "Then they saw my work and something changed."

A photo posted by ROXX (@roxx_____) on

Lee says blackout tattoos are still "an acquired taste," but it definitely seems like the Internet is catching on. His work and others' has gone viral on Instagram and is popping up on websites of every kind. "Slowly the new generation is appreciating the cleanliness of this kind of work, and the art of looking at just shapes and lines that emphasize the contours of the body," Lee said.

What do you think? Would you consider a blackout tattoo? What about something more geometric like Roxx's work?

Rachel Weeks

I'm originally from the Chicagoland area, but I recently moved from beautiful Des Moines, IA to the equally beautiful Denver, CO. I spend my days reading, binge-watching TV shows, performing and listening to comedy and, of course, writing.

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