Welcome to the 1001 Tattoos Glossary, where we demystify the terminology used in the world of tattoos. Whether you’re new to tattoo culture or a seasoned enthusiast, this glossary will help you understand key terms and concepts related to tattooing.


Aftercare: The process of taking care of a new tattoo to ensure proper healing. This typically involves cleaning the tattoo, applying ointments, and avoiding sun exposure.

Apprentice: A person learning the art of tattooing under the guidance of an experienced tattoo artist.


Blackwork: A style of tattooing that uses only black ink to create designs, often involving geometric patterns, abstract art, or solid black areas.

Blowout: An undesirable effect where tattoo ink spreads under the skin, causing a blurry or fuzzy appearance.


Custom Tattoo: A tattoo design that is created specifically for an individual, often involving a consultation with the tattoo artist to develop a unique piece.

Cover-up: A tattoo designed to cover or disguise an existing tattoo that is no longer wanted.


Dotwork: A tattoo technique where the design is created using dots to form images, shading, and patterns, often resulting in highly detailed artwork.

Flash: Pre-drawn designs that are typically displayed in tattoo shops for customers to choose from. Flash tattoos can be generic or created by the artist.


Freehand: A tattooing technique where the artist draws the design directly onto the skin without using stencils, allowing for more spontaneous and custom designs.


Greywash: A technique using diluted black ink to create various shades of grey, often used in shading and creating a more realistic effect.


Healing: The period after getting a tattoo during which the skin recovers. Proper healing is crucial for the appearance and longevity of the tattoo.


Ink: The pigment used in tattooing. Tattoo ink comes in various colors and is specially formulated to be safe for use under the skin.

Irezumi: Traditional Japanese tattooing, often featuring large, intricate designs with cultural and symbolic significance.


Linework: The outline or lines of a tattoo design. Good linework is essential for the clarity and longevity of the tattoo.


Machine: The device used by tattoo artists to apply ink to the skin. Tattoo machines use needles to insert ink beneath the surface of the skin.

Mandala: A design featuring intricate, often circular patterns that can represent balance, harmony, and spiritual significance.


Needle: The tool used in tattoo machines to puncture the skin and deposit ink. Different needle configurations are used for lining, shading, and coloring.

Neo-Traditional: A tattoo style that builds on traditional tattoo elements but incorporates more intricate details, a broader color palette, and modern techniques.


Placement: The location on the body where the tattoo is applied. Placement can affect the design, visibility, and pain level of the tattoo.


Realism: A style of tattooing that aims to replicate real-life images with high levels of detail and shading to create a lifelike appearance.


Script: Tattoos that consist of words, phrases, or quotes. Script tattoos require careful attention to typography and style.

Sleeve: A large tattoo or collection of smaller tattoos that cover a significant portion of the arm, resembling a sleeve.

Stencil: A template used to transfer a design onto the skin before the actual tattooing begins, ensuring accuracy and consistency.


Tattoo Machine: See Machine.

Tattoo Removal: The process of removing a tattoo, typically through laser treatments. This process can be lengthy, expensive, and sometimes painful.

Traditional (Old School): A style of tattooing known for its bold lines, bright colors, and iconic imagery like anchors, roses, and pin-up girls.


UV Tattoo: A tattoo that uses ultraviolet-reactive ink, making the design visible under black light. Also known as blacklight tattoos.


Watercolor: A tattoo style that mimics the fluid and vibrant qualities of watercolor paintings, often with blurred edges and a lack of strong outlines.


Yakuza: Members of Japanese organized crime syndicates, traditionally known for their extensive and intricate full-body tattoos that often include irezumi.


Zen Tattoo: Tattoos inspired by Zen Buddhism, often featuring symbols like the enso (circle) or other elements that reflect peace, balance, and mindfulness.

This glossary is designed to help you navigate the world of tattoos with confidence. If you have any questions or need further clarification on any terms, feel free to explore our resources or contact us directly. Your journey to unique ink begins here!