Many styles of tattooing have had their fair share of the limelight. Every couple of decades, certain styles are deemed fashionable and trendy. A style of tattooing called blackwork has recently been put in the spotlight. There is a misconception that the art style is moderately new, but in reality it isn’t.
For starters, blackwork is quite literally the first kind of tattooing there ever was. While artists of today have every color of ink under the sun available to tattoo with, such wasn’t always the case. It is impossible to say exactly who started tattooing—the art was prominent in many ancient tribes and civilizations across the world, most of which had little to no connection to one another. Nonetheless, their inks had one thing in common: they were black. Their black ink was carbon sourced from burnt wood or bones, and was used to tattoo for many different reasons: status, religion, medicine, branding—you name it.
As time progressed, the art of tattooing went in and out of style, in and out of religious criticism, and in and out of countries, and, naturally, the art progressed as well. When more ink colors became readily available, blackwork was cast to the side. It was still incredibly popular, but the style was mostly utilized by indigenous people whose ancestors bore connections to the art. Those who didn’t have any cultural ties to the style tended to opt for the fancy new colors they could use on their body. In the late eighties and throughout the nineties, tribal tattoos came into style, and blackwork again became popular.
Blackwork is not to be confused with black and grey tattoos. There is a key difference between the two: black and grey utilizes lots of black, yes, but a large tonal range of grey shades and white highlights if any. Blackwork, however, uses only black, just like the name suggests. Blackwork in the recent years has been used not just for tribal tattoos, but many other art styles as well. For instance, geometric tattoos, landscape sceneries, and animals have become very popular subjects for blackwork. This rise to popularity has been aided by social media sites like Instagram and Facebook.
To conclude, blackwork is not a recent trend; it’s the oldest type of tattooing in the world, first done by ancient tribes and civilizations. It differs from styles like black and grey in that it only uses one color—black! If ever you desire a blackwork tattoo of your own, stop by our tattoo shop and we can set you up with an artist to meet your needs!