Illustrative tattoos

Illustrative tattoos can be considered as a type of fusion between realism tattoos and American (traditional) tattoos. However, illustrative tattoos are usually a little more refined and detailed in nature compared to their American counterparts.

An illustrative tattoo is inspired by imagery similar to impressionism artistry, but it also draws its influence from a number of other art movements, including expressionism.

Just like realism tattoos, illustrative tattoos, as the name suggests, could almost be mistaken for drawings on the skin.

From etchings and watercolour effects to intricate line work, cross hatching, and dot work, there are a lot of different techniques involved in this style.

In fact, you could say that illustrative is a broad tattoo style filled with countless different artwork styles within.   

Black illustrative tattoos

Opting for no colour?

Black illustrative tattoos differ to realism tattoos in that they contain minimal (or no) shading.

Instead, the focus is on intricate line work, and highly detailed designs.

Colour illustrative tattoos

On the other end of the spectrum, illustrative tattoos can also be composed of as many colours as you’d like!

Remember that tattoos are a form of art, so it makes sense that any kind of tattoo style can be interpreted dozens of different ways.

Choosing an illustrative tattoo artist

There are no hard and fast rules here about what exactly constitutes an illustrative tattoo, so when meeting with a tattoo artist, you should comfortably be able to outline what you’ve got in mind, and with their help, expand from there.

It’s important to develop a great repertoire with your artist, and you should freely bounce ideas off each other, using their expert knowledge to guide you.

Get inspired with these illustrative tattoo styles

An illustrative tattoo can take almost any image or form that you like – there are virtually no limits to what kind of tattoo you can have when you choose the illustrative style.

The exciting thing about the illustrative tattoo style is that they are influenced by impressionism, which means they can make the ordinary seem extraordinary!

Here are just a few ideas to get your mind ticking.


With an illustrative tattoo, you can think outside the box.

Your tattoo could be half human and half angel or you could have a custom illustrative tattoo designed of a skull made up of flowers, in either black and grey or rich colours.


Maybe you would like a colourful tattoo of a tiger prowling through long grass, or a black and white image of a fox, deer, an elephant, or other animal to convey well-being, power, or prosperity.

Our team of Melbourne tattoo artists can bring you illustrative animal tattoo ideas to life.


Do you like the idea of multiple tattoos running up your arm and down your back, each image complimenting the other, blending creatively and seamlessly together?

Conceptualise your illustrative tattoo collage with our Essendon tattoo artists.

Everyday objects

Illustrative tattoo can make even the most mundane object looks interesting, fun and quirky.

A detailed illustrative tattoo can bring personality into any kind of object, from coffee cups and typewriters to nature, and everything in between.


Illustrative tattoos are a great way to bring your own individual flair (and colour palette) to your favourite flower.

The impressionism style will make your roses, hydrangeas, tulips or daffodils one of a kind.


Illustrative tattoos can turn ordinary images into beautiful and quirky works of art. Think a bowl of ramen with a hand wielding chopsticks, a slice of pizza, or ice cream.