Every once in a while I see a guy with a tattoo so awesome that I pull out my phone and ask to take a selfie with it. No. I’m not lying. This is what my life has come to—how writing about tattoos all day has affected my life, or lack there of. But I embrace it, persevere, and keep bringing you the best (self-proclaimed) tattoo lists the internet has to offer because doing so brings me great pleasure. You’re about to see sixty tattoo designs that are all equally awesome. Please hold your applause until after you’re done scrolling ’cause I don’t want you to drop your phone.
A Karate Kid
If you haven’t seen The Karate Kid at least ten times, then you should probably X out of this page right now because our tastes are going to be exceedingly different. I don’t know if the famous “crane kick” is a real, but one thing’s for sure, I wouldn’t want to get kicked in the face with it.
Whether it’s a tribute to renaissance art or the fact that great artists just think alike, tattoos depicting Greek and Roman sculpture are a common trend among the industry’s most talented artists. I come across a lot of sculpture tattoos but the way that Jefree illustrates the depth in this image is a beautiful thing.
A lot of ink
Just knowing that this person is walking around somewhere on this earth brings a smile to my face. In another life, this would be me. In fact, I would say that there’s a 2 percent chance this will be me after I retire. Kostas you a G for this.
Lucas Lua de Souza’s work is my new jam. His designs are inspiring and original and I scrolled his entire Instagram without even blinking. Or so it seemed. I attribute my new found love affair with the way De Souza masterfully mixes two of my favorite styles together (color gradients & black and grey ink).
I Am Legend
You don’t have to be a science fiction fan to appreciate the soon-to-be cult classic film I Am Legend, which is based on Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel also named I Am Legend. Inal creates these cool screengrab tattoos that feature some of the best movies ever made.
This is one of those tattoos you can’t stop staring at yet if you stare at it too long you start to get woozy. I’m not an artist, but seriously, how do you even go about creating something like this? Balazs is always pushing the envelope, creating new and interesting designs.
I woke up to this design about a month ago and quickly became obsessed with it. The monochromatic nature of the design reminds me a film negative. Using negative space to illustrate blonde hair is a cool concept, and the way Jefree uses the woman’s arms to enable a contrast boundary is pure genius.
Pulp Fiction is arguably one of the best movies ever made. And that scene where Mia Wallace enjoys herself a little too much is one of the most memorable scenes of the movie. Pulp Fiction tattoos are a dime a dozen but this one is truly special.
These bees are pretty nifty, but sometimes I get taken in by the overall composition of a photo which can overwhelm the context of the design. There’s definitely a little of that going on right here but I wanted to focus on how cool adding a few free flying bees can be to a sleeve or larger work of art.
If I had a completely blank canvas to work with and I could have only one artist blast me from head to toe, Stephan Milovanov would be my first choice. And this is coming from someone who does nothing but eat, sleep, and look at tattoos all day. He’s just that good.
No matter what the content, chest plates like these always give off a Japanese vibe to me. And if I ever join some Japanese organization (like a book club) that requires I get inked, I’d definitely hit up Greg Nicholson.
An abstract work of surrealism
Abstract works of surrealism are becoming more and more popular these days. And it’s no surprise that most of best examples are coming out of Bang Bang in NYC. Maksim Morozov is one of those artists that you give complete creative freedom—no exceptions.
A windy day
Palm trees are awesome. They even look cool blowing in the wind. Even though palm trees are found all over the world, images like the one above always remind me of southern California.
A Marine Crops design
If you make it into the elite Force Reconnaissance division of the Marine Corps, it’s almost a requirement that you get a tattoo in order to make things official. This is one of the most impressive Marine Corps tattoos I’ve seen in a while.
There’s a lot going on here in a way that makes this design more appealing the father away from it you get (not in a bad way of course). Nathan likes to do these wavy skull designs and this list features two of them.
When you ask your brother or dad what their favorite film is, The Godfather usually comes up more often than not. Maybe it’s because they like it and maybe because it’s the “cool answer.” All men seem to think this is their favorite movie. And I say this mainly because I’ve seen all of the installments and that was plenty enough for me.
A geometric chest piece
I don’t care who you are. If you have this tattoo you’re okay in my book. Just kidding. Let me rephrase that. No matter what kind of person you are, I’ll still tell you I love your tattoo. This has got to be one of the most mesmerizing tattoos I have ever seen in my life.
A neck piece
Not to sound like a broken record. But this spectacular neck cover is another design that belongs in that “most mesmerizing” category without a doubt. Eric Stricker is known for his hypnotizing patterns that command both your appreciation and your attention.
If there’s a cooler pair of corresponding hand tattoos floating around out there I haven’t seen them. Tattooing other artists (especially good ones) can be a nerve-racking experience. But when you’re Dragon, you probably don’t get nervous. Done by Dragon for fellow Bang Bang resident Mr. K.
An x-ray lotus
Speaking of Dragon, here’s what his take on an x-ray lotus flower looks like. If you’ve ever wondered to yourself who the best tattoo artist in the world is, who knows. But one thing’s for sure, Dragon’s name definitely belongs in the conversation.
A skull and crown
Well, this turned out well. From the shadowing to the uniform ribbon-like details on the edges of this design make for a crisp and clean design that stands up to the closest scrutiny. What separates a good design from an amazing design are details like these.
A abstract being
This design reminds me of the way they energize in the transporter on Star Trek. Every year, tattoo design branches further into the abstract and the surreal, mimicking art that you’d see in the Museum of Modern Art.
A Great Seal
For those non-Americans out there, this is the Great Seal of the United States, which is found on official documents and the national currency. The olive branches and arrows clutched in the eagle’s talons represent peace and war—powers exclusively held by the US Congress.
A geometric mural
If you don’t mind a little pain, and have a lot of time, money, and patience, then this design is a glimpse of what could be. That is, if Adrian Lee thinks you’re worthy. Seriously, I bet this guy doesn’t even own a shirt.
Leon: The Professional
Leon: The Professional is a seriously underrated movie. Well, saying that it’s an underrated film wouldn’t be fair because it does have great reviews and everyone that sees it loves it. Saying that the film doesn’t get the exposure it’s due is more accurate.
A retired King
When I was putting together this list I didn’t imagine or plan that there would be so many skeletons with crowns but sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Of course you won’t mind though since they’re all epic in every way.
I’d be willing to bet that Inal Berskov has never had a disappointed client in his life. Snoop d o double g is the gangster you bring home to mom. He has that sweet and innocent vibe about him. Apologies if I’m hurting your street cred Snoopy but it’s true!
Turan loves inking evergreen trees and let’s all just take a minute to thank him for that. If trees are your thing or you just want to check out other amazing examples of trees, make sure to check out Turan’s Instagram profile when you’re done here.
A multi-exposure tiger design
There’s so much going on here I don’t even know where to start so I’m just going to sit back and clap. John Monteiro, you Sir are amazing. Keep up the good work and please don’t raise your prices because some day I’m going to find you and we’re going to create something truly beautiful together.
Random, I know. But when it comes to the work of master tattooist Pawel Indulski, you don’t ask questions nor do criticize because, well, there’s just never anything negative to say about any of his work.
A fascinating sternum piece
I like the way this design incorporates the whole Alien busting out of your innards concept without trying to go all hyper-realistic around the edges (it rarely works even for the most skilled of artists). The way Damian simply illustrated the torn skin works on so many different levels.
Don’t trust anyone
Nothing to say about the context of this design but the clean bold lettering is captivating. Palm tattoos are fun, and that’s about it. Oh ya, they also hurt something fierce.
What stands out about this design are the wonderful surface textures. Carlos Magone does a lot of work with random geometric shapes with this same texturing. His Instagram portfolio is full of fun and interesting designs, which I highly recommend checking out.
A leg sleeve
I’m a big fan of black and grey ink sleeves no matter where they may be located. There’s something beautiful about grayscale hues that no color combination will ever be able to achieve.
This is a fun design that any travel junkie can relate to. Airplanes have the ability to take you anywhere in the world in less than a day’s time. Perhaps no single design represents that “grass is greener” image better than the airplane.
A forearm piece
Capable of putting you directly into an episode of Stranger Things, this magical rendition of the world though someone’s eyes took an otherwise everyday landscape design and infused it with mystery and intrigue.
No matter how many tattoos you have, there’s always a little room left for some fill—especially when it’s of this caliber. Eric’s patterns are one of a kind unique and some of the most fascinating pattern work you will ever see in ink.
Life is definitely easier for some women than it is for others. When you have a talented artist like Inal at your disposal, every photographic image becomes a viable tattoo option, which can make deciding on a particular design difficult.
Every paper airplane secretly wishes it was a fighter jet. Paper airplanes are a popular concept, and this is one of my favorite examples. Creative tattoos are always fun and exciting to discover.
A sad but true saying
Tattoos that bring a little levity to the mix are always appreciated. In fact, funny tattoos are a lot more fun to show off to your friends and family than regular designs that rely purely on aesthetics for appeal.
A tiger chest piece
This mandala chest piece featuring a tiger is a powerful design—it’s also one of the most striking tiger tattoos you will ever see. Mandala designs are commonly used as ornamental additions to centerpiece designs.
An old plane
This old plane was created in grayscale black and white, and looks as if it has an authentic patina to it which gives it an old and weathered look. I don’t know too much about planes and the artist’s description wasn’t very helpful but I think that this plane belongs in the WWI era.
Pawel Indulski is one of the most talented tattoo artists in the world, if not the most talented tattooist based strictly on technical ability. When it comes to proportion, detail, shading, Pawel has few equals in the industry. Check out his portfolio—you won’t be disappointed.
A wolf themed piece
I just spent 5 minutes trying to figure out what’s being reflected in that eye. Perhaps it’s just the wolf’s surroundings but it looks a little like a room full of standing people. Just the fact that you can study the reflection in the wolf’s eye for so long speaks volumes to the detail and quality Inal was able to achieve in this design.
A simple cross
I’ve always been a proponent of simple tattoo designs. This cross is bold, clean, and unmistakable. A constant reminder of your faith and a much cooler option than a W. W. J. D. bracelet. Remember those?
A mandala lion
I promise it’s just pure coincidence that there ended up being so many mandala/big cat mashups on this list. I always try to make each list as diverse as possible so if you see two similar designs on the list it’s because the quality was just too good to ignore.
A stunning pattern
I’ll wait until the day tattoo machines exist that can put me to sleep and blast this out in an hour before I consider getting something as large and detailed as this. I think I have a relatively average tolerance to pain but this just makes me want to cry.
A connecting design
Inez Janiak is the queen of sketch style tattoos. She’s one of those artists that works solely in the sketch style field and her style is instantly recognizable. If this particular style appeals to you, Inez’s Instagram profile is a must-see.
Eva’s circular landscape designs never disappoint. I have to admit, Eva’s designs are such a treat for me that I check her Instagram almost daily in hopes of discovering a new design to dissect with my eyes.
The randomness of physical forces on liquid and other substances makes for beautiful art.
Despite the proportions being a little funky (that’s a big basketball), this design represents one of the most original photorealism styles out there. Inal Bersekov is a Belgian tattooist who specializes in photorealism portraits and landscapes.
An Egyptian mask
The Egyptian boy king Tutankhamun became the most well-known Egyptian King simply because his tomb was discovered mostly intact. Most Egyptian Pharaohs were utterly obsessed with being remembered after their death. Little did they know, all that was necessary was a well hidden tomb.
A geometric leg sleeve
If this isn’t a work of art then I don’t know what is. In fact, I’m going to go as far as to label this design Fine Body Art. And I don’t care how cold of a climate you live in. If you have a design like this on your leg, you owe it to yourself to wear short shorts all day everyday.
A chest piece
This is a great example of how inks appear to gently fade over time. Contrary to popular belief, the inks themselves used in tattooing don’t fade over time. Instead, it’s the layers of skin that build up over the tattoo that make it appear as if the ink is starting to blur.
I’ve always been a sucker for a beautiful font. Which is why I spend a lot of time on Hector’s Instagram page dreaming up my next tattoo design. There’s just something so satisfying about a perfectly illustrated font that makes you question why other types of tattoos even exist.
A Hokusai skull
The Hokusai wave is one of Japan’s most famous works of art—and it’s well represented in the tattoo industry. This is the second Hokusai mashup from Nathan on this list and my personal favorite of the two.
It seems like it’s always immediately after I create a specialized list that I start to come across the best examples of that particular subject. Sometimes I like to sneak new designs into old lists, but with the tiger/lion list I recently published, there simply isn’t any room.
A geometric chest piece
Mandala type patterns have been embraced by the tattoo industry unlike any other type of design. The rhythmic patterns and detailed symmetry make the mandala flower a captivating and popular design option.
An origami lion
Looks can be deceiving. Never judge a book by its cover. This design is both a layered metaphor and a super cute creation at the same time. Pablo Torres has an entire series of these origami shadow designs which I highly recommend checking out.
Jesse & Walt
If you have yet to sit down and watch AMC’s Breaking Bad in its entirety, then I’m genuinely excited for you. Arguably the best TV show ever written, Breaking Bad is responsible for a small hiatus I took from both working and bathing.