As I write this article, I find myself chuckling Ã¢Â?Â¦ the dilemma is this: we tattoo enthusiasts like our art because it makes us unique, it is a statement about how we want to look or how we view ourselves and it’s a creative expression of who we are. However, there is something that causes us to love the same forms of tattoo over and over – tattoo styles span the board, but you’re far more likely to see Tweety Bird on a girl’s ankle than a kanji symbol for “Trust No Man”.
So while I’m a big advocate of spreading your wings and finding a style or a piece that’s all your own (that kanji symbol I just mentioned is on my ankle, and was drawn by me), the search for the perfect tattoo is hard enough without pondering questions of conformity. What I wanted to do here is offer an overview of different tattoo styles and themes, so that’s what I’m going to continue with and hope that along the way you’ll find your own perfect piece of art – you know, the flash that somehow magically found its way onto paper instead of your skin and now you’ve gotta have it back.
Top 5 Tattoo Flash Themes
Around the world tattoos are known as tatoeage, tatouage, tatuaggio, tatuar, tatuaje, tattoos, tatuagens, and tatu (just to name a few). The permanent ink is more popular now than at any other time in recorded history, with current estimates at more than 1 in 7 (or more than 45 million) people in North America alone who have one or more tattoos.
From the purist who will only wear blackwork tribal art to the quirky person who has everything from southpark characters to tribal roses, it would seem that we all have something to express. Here’s the rundown on the 5 most searched for tattoo flash themes, according to Yahoo!, and where you can get your artwork to go.
Tribal Tattoo Flash
The true tribal tattoo, which almost always consists of black work and a series of lines to represent something symbolically, has a long history. Nearly every culture expressed rites of passage and ceremonial occasions through tribal tattoos. In and , young men were tattooed to mark the passage from boyhood into adulthood or warriorhood. This culture also tattooed women to signify that they were “marriageable”. The common belief among the tribes was that if a woman’s family couldn’t pay to have her tattooed, she couldn’t possibly be good wife material.
Where can you find your own tribal art? Try these websites – they will allow you to print your new finds and run off to have them inked.
Create a Tattoo – http://createatattoo.com/ – I’ve played around on this site often, simply because it’s fun. Using their online application, you begin with a basic template (and there’s more than 100 to choose from) and then play with that template using their tools until you have something that’s unique. No one else will have the same tattoo that you do because it you created it – and you can print it right out, too.
Bullseye Tattoos – http://www.bullseyetattoos.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=35 – This is an enormous gallery of tribal flash with everything from mendhi-inspired pieces to winged hearts and lower back bands. You can preview the pieces by clicking the art you’re interested in, and then just download and print the design you like best. Their prices are some of the lowest you’re going to find for the quality offered.
LuckyFish Art – http://www.luckyfishart.com/tribtatdes.html – One of the greatest things about tribal tats is the way that, done right, they can tell a story. They have a whole set of symbolism to them that can enhance the pride of wearing them. This site helps you out with truly amazing flash and full meanings to their work. For example, the “Tribal Protection” piece offers up this lovely meaning, “A protective talisman for those wanderers who need a little extra positive energy as they walk the road of life.”
Cross Tattoo Flash
Crosses are a very popular tattoo design that can run a range of styles from Tribal to Celtic. Many crosses combine other design elements like flowers (everything from roses to daisies, lilies to vines), hearts, skulls, and religious symbols. Unlike traditional tribal tattoos, many pieces of cross flash include a variety of colors like red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and violet.
Where do you wear your cross tattoos? Depending on their size, they can be worn as armbands, lower back pieces, on ankles or shoulders Ã¢Â?Â¦ I once saw a brave soul who took the time to have their cross placed as a necklace right above their collar bone.
Here’s your best bets for finding great cross flash:
Tattoo Johnny – http://www.tattoojohnny.com/ – Just hit “cross” in their search box and you come up with dozens of pages of really quality work. The artists at this site have compiled a full resource that lets you download both the tattoo and its stencil (the outlines for an artist) so that you can head straight to the tattoo parlor and get going.
Flash2xs – http://www.flash2xs.com/ – 99 times out of 100 I will say to stay far away from “Free” tattoo flash. You really do get what you pay for. This site is different, though, because it is run as a competition so the quality is much higher than usual. You do have to be very, very patient because it’s got hundreds of images all loading on one page, but your patience will be rewarded.
Awen Press – http://tattoos.awenpress.com/catalog/default.php?cPath=59 – A small collection, these Celtic cross tattoos are worth the trip to their site. You can download and print the blackwork right from your computer. Also check out their Viking cross tattoos here http://tattoos.awenpress.com/catalog/default.php?cPath=68&osCsid=c52e169dc9b50ea823403b046544ca0a
Butterfly Tattoo Flash
Butterflies can have deep significance to the wearer, indicating metamorphosis. Spiritually, the butterfly can signify rebirth after death. The Blackfoot Tribe of North America believe that our dreams are brought to us during sleep by a butterfly.
Unlike the previous two themes, I’m only going to place one link under this theme. At TattooFinder, http://www.tattoofinder.com/FT_butterfly_tattoos_designs.asp, are some of the most stunning pieces of butterfly art I have ever seen. Ranging in style from tribal and Celtic to airbrushed finishes, these tattoos come out as a true piece of artwork on the permanent canvas of your skin.
If you scroll down just a bit on the page, you’ll find a lot of information about the symbolism of butterflies, and can click links to butterfly tattoos including butterfly wings, butterfly kanji, butterfly fairies, and the tribal and Celtic butterflies.
Fairy Tattoo Flash
As I move down Yahoo’s top searched for tattoo list, it seems that I hit more “girlie” themes. It makes me wonder if men are getting more Tribal tattoos than any other style? Whatever the reason, fairy tattoos are our next-most-searched-for theme and they come in a huge variety of styles.
From the mythological creature to spiritual contexts, many people are searching for the winged beauties and here’s where you can find the best of them:
Tattoos by Design – http://www.tattoos-by-design.co.uk/library/index.asp?catid=44 – Woah. This one category alone has more than 1850 designs, and more are added on an almost daily basis. Tinkerbelle tattoos to warrior fairies, you can find and print yours here. You’ll need to purchase a membership to view the full collection, but at the small cost it’s really a no-brainer.
Tattoos – http://www.caltattoo.com/TattooSearch.aspx – Check out their “Mythical” category. There’s a lot more here than just fairies – we’re talking dragons, trolls, unicorns, the whole fantasy gamut. And their prices aren’t half bad, either!
Tattoo Johnny – http://www.tattoojohnny.com/search.asp?k=fairy – Yup, I’ve mentioned this site before, but really Ã¢Â?Â¦ the quality of fairy tattoos with stencils offered up here can’t be overlooked.
Dragon Tattoo Flash
Maybe this is where the men have been hiding? The two main distinctions between dragon tattoos (other than styling) is their basic form: the Eastern dragon and the Western dragon. The Eastern dragon is generally seen as a protector of people, bringer of life-giving water, and herald of fertility and fortune. The Western dragon is often seen more as an evil creature – a destroyer of villages and hoarder of treasures.
Tribal Dragon Tattoos are so popular it’s not even funny, so finding some really great ones shouldn’t be that hard Ã¢Â?Â¦ but believe me, it is. Here are the top 2 sites for truly quality dragon flash.
FNR Tattoos – http://www.fnrtattoos.com/TattooSearch.aspx – Type “dragon” in the search box and come up with hundreds of stock dragon tattoo designs. Some really great stuff here – don’t overlook the temporary tattoos, either. They have merit, because they can be used to make a stencil from.
LuckyFish Art – http://www.luckyfishart.com/drtadeche.html – Another site that’s made it twice into this article, I was happy to see that they’ve spent as much time coming up with really meaningful dragon flash as they did the tribal flash. Their “Viking Dragon” tattoo, for instance, offers up this description, “The Vikings were a wild and fierce people, intimately acquainted with sea monsters and dragons on their journeys to pillage . This coiled beastie is taken from an ancient piece of armour left on a battlefield by one of the slower ones.”