Blackwork Tattoos – All You Need to Know

What are Blackwork Tattoos?

Blackwork tattoos consist of only black colour and ink for your tattoo art and have been around for thousands of years – so they’re likely to not be going anywhere anytime soon. They usually form a unique outcome and show different shapes, sizes and patterns.Blackwork is a style of tattooing that has geometric shapes and abstract patterns that are based on designs seen in Henna tattoos..

With blackwork there are also a lot of ornamental designs that stem from Henna tattoos. They’re known for covering large areas of the body such as entire torsos and limbs.

Blackwork tattoo artists focusing on dark art usually have an illustrative outlook that takes inspiration from etching and engraving. Unlike traditional blackwork tattoos that used a hammer and engraving needle, modern tattoo artists now have to use dark pigmented ink and needle techniques that result in body art on the skin. Although tattoo artists now put their own spin on blackwork tattoos, they are still extremely recognisable.

Tribal Blackwork

The most common blackwork tattoos are tribal tattoos.They are identified with different tribes and have various meanings and representations. They can represent protection, power and strength whilst showing loyalty to your specific tribe.
Polynesian tribal blackwork is hugely influential for blackwork art. They are distinctive thanks to the bold abstract patterns and swirls and are usually engraved around the main contours of the body.

A notable blackwork tattooist that is known for his tribal tattoo work and different tattoo ideas is Victor J Webster. Specialising in all sorts of tribal styles including Maori, Native American and Tibetan, he puts his own creative artist impression on the blackwork style.

Spanish Blackwork

Inspired by Spanish embroidery with its stitch work for tapestries, Spanish blackwork usually focused on maze-style floral patterns and classic geometric designs. The Spanish blackwork art originates from Spanish tapestries and embroidery. 

Curls and patterns are usually used in Spanish Blackwork to cover the whole body. These tattoos are also known as decorative pieces that cover scars. Unlike tribal blackwork, there is no meaning behind Spanish blackwork and artists use it as an expression of body art.


Calligraphy is a visual art form that incorporates words and writing. Compared to other blackwork styles, it is very minimalistic, sophisticated and precise techniques are key to calligraphy to create delicate but bold tattoos. Cursive and block lettering have become a popular choice for calligraphy blackwork in western culture but the script fonts can differentiate depending on personal preferences.
In more recent years, artists such as Ed Hardy have been pivotal in calligraphy blackwork designs.

If you are thinking about getting a blackwork tattoo-

TOP TIP- Blackwork tattoos are a commitment and are difficult to cover over if you change your mind. This is due to their blocks of colour, so make sure to be confident in your choice if you’re thinking of getting one.

TOP TIP- Although you might see a blackwork tattoo design you like, take into account the contours of the body because once it is finished the effect might be different.

TOP TIP- If you don’t want to feel the pain while getting a blackwork tattoo, TKTX Tattoo numbing cream is the answer. The Yellow cream is the strongest tattoo numbing cream. As a leading tattoo numbing cream in the UK, TKTX Tattoo can help relieve the discomfort with a water-based formula that doesn’t affect the artist’s work.


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