Watercolor tattoos are everywhere! These incredible works of body art feature subtle gradients with even more subtle fade-outs, just like in a watercolor painting, hence the name.
But these eye-catching tattoos aren’t merely an Insta fad but a specialty style that requires advanced inking skills, knowledge of color pigments, and boundless imagination.
These tattoos don’t have the bold lines and outline like traditional tattoos, which makes this particular style all the more playful. The subtle yet vivid duality of these tattoos isn’t always easy to achieve.
That’s why the best watercolor tattoo artists have to spend years perfecting their techniques with labor and love. In this post, we’re looking at some of the best watercolor tattoo artists whose work is simply mind-blowing.
Who is the Best Watercolor Tattoo Artist?
Many tattoo artists around the world specialize in the watercolor technique, but few come close to the work of the following artists. They have their unique styles and their work is simply phenomenal.
Here are the best watercolor tattoo artists from around the world. Scroll down more to see the works per artist.
Lianne Moule from Chelmsford, England, is hands-down the best watercolor tattoo artist, as her work looks like an actual watercolor painting.
Lello Sannino from Italy is the maestro of tattoo coverups, using stunning watercolors to turn even the most hideous ink into a work of art. Pablo Ortiz is a globetrotter, originally from Toledo, Spain, whose watercolor tattooing talent knows no bounds. From minimalistic symbols to full-fledge portraits, he’s done it all.
Pablo Ortiz is a globetrotter, originally from Toledo, Spain, whose watercolor tattooing talent knows no bounds. From minimalistic symbols to full-fledge portraits, he’s done it all.
Baltazar Paprocki, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, specializes in sleeve tattoos, but his watercolor tattoos are becoming a sensation on Instagram.
Regina Pochachina, based in Rome, uses the watercolor tattoo technique to create flawless cartoon artwork.
Marco Pepe, another name from Italy on this list, lets the ink be his guide, and in that, he creates stunning abstract designs that draw attention and appreciation.
More info: Watercolor tattoo artists
Although Lianne Moule can do tattoos in different styles, she’s become an expert in watercolor ink. Her studio, Immortal Ink, is based in her hometown of Chelmsford in southern England, where she works with her partner, Jason Butcher, another brilliant tattoo artist.
Her primary focus when it comes to watercolor body art is nature. From the grandeur of the watercolor flower tattoo to the free spirit of the watercolor bird tattoo, her work captures nature in its rawest form. You can tell from her work that she loves nature.
What makes it stand out is that she inks these designs with shading techniques that incorporate even how light falls on the object.
Her process involves creating a watercolor study, so the vibrant colors don’t clash. And she takes on ever-expanding artwork for clients, creating stories like a watercolor painting.
Although nature is her forte, she’s also inked incredible portraits with perfectly blended colors, like Louise Brooks and David Bowie.
Some of her watercolor tattoo ideas combine different elements found in nature, like flora, fauna, and food.
One of the most challenging tasks for even an experienced tattoo artist is cover-ups. But that’s exactly where Lello Sannino, the Italian watercolor tattoo specialist, shines. He’s discovered the power of watercolor pigments in covering up botched or faded body art.
He uses the watercolor effect to hide even black ink, which in and of itself is a big feat. For instance, he turned a faded Tinker Bell ankle tattoo into a Toy Story painting with Woody and Buzz Lightyear. That covered beauty is one of many cover-up examples you can see on his profile.
Sannino is based in Cameri in the province of Novara, part of the Orgoglio & Pregiudizio Tattoo Studio. His watercolor tattoos work is predominantly based on cartoon characters, which goes to show how fun these types of tattoos can be. From Jiggly Puff as an arm tattoo to Ariel as a calf tattoo, his work shows why the watercolor technique is the best for inking cartoons.
Active on social media to inspire emerging artists, his profile is a splash of bright colors.
Pablo Ortiz may be from Spain, but his work is inspired by the world. An ardent traveler, Ortiz attends tattoo conventions frequently, lending his knowledge about watercolor technique.
He has a fine arts background, as he attended Facultad de Bellas Artes in Granada. So he does a lot of pencil study for his watercolor tattoos. His work includes portraits, animals, florals, and abstract designs.
Some of his work diffuses watercolor tattoos with traditional tattoos, using bold lines to define objects while colors add life to them. From something as simple as a butterfly tattoo to more complex ideas like a watercolor pattern on the entire sleeve, he keeps things fresh.
He worked with La Rosa Muerta studio in Toldeo before founding his own studio Dhira Tattoo, where he further experiments with watercolor tattoo ideas.
Baltazar Paparocki, commonly referred to as Balta, is a well-known name in the South American tattoo industry. Balta worked as an illustrator and animator before beginning his journey in the tattoo world, which explains how his artwork is so on point.
He has been working in the industry for nearly two decades now. Unlike the common way of creating a watercolor design where outlines hardly exist, he often uses solid black outlines to emphasize the silhouette of the art subject.
While many of his watercolor tattoos feature characters, he’s a versatile artist who can do different types of tattoos with the watercolor effect.
Also, the character tattoos feature splash and spatter watercolor background that further pops out those vibrant hues.
Balta owns and runs his eponymous studio in the bustling Brazilian city of Sao Paolo. He’s very active in Brazil, promoting watercolor tattoo art through workshops and podcasts.
Regina Pochanina of Ardent Tattoo Roma specializes in cartoon watercolor tattoos that look like a real picture on the skin. From Simba from the Lion King to Dory from Finding Nemo, she has tattooed many Disney characters using the watercolor technique.
Her work proves that the watercolor style is perfect for recreating cartoon tattoos. Whether it’s something minimalistic like a flower tattoo or a more elaborate rendition of a character, she uses different shades to copy the exact artwork from the screen onto the skin.
She loves sketching ideas and regularly posts her digital artwork on Instagram. You can find a lot of ideas for inspiration.
You’d think Italy is the Mecca of watercolor tattoos with so many brilliant artists coming from the country, like Marco Pepe, who hails from Naples and owns Encre Tattoo.
Pepe’s watercolor style is unique as he follows the flow of ink and takes into account the orientation of the skin and muscles to attain the best possible results. So his tattoo canvas features dark and light shades of colors that seamlessly blend into each other.
He takes planning and designing very seriously. He wants every artwork to be unique and to realize his client’s ideas. So inking doesn’t begin until he has the drawing done to his client’s satisfaction. And that’s visible in his work.
He does watercolor sleeve tattoos a lot, inking abstract geometric designs that combine the symmetry of shapes with the asymmetry of random brush strokes. But he’s a versatile artist, so he does the more trendy watercolor tattoos just as well.
Pepe has spent time in other European cities as well as in America to learn more about the art of tattooing.
Based in Santiago, Pablo Miranda Yáñez has a distinct style. His watercolor tattoos feature black outlines in various depths with vivid colors and blurred edges.
He started by using the watercolor look for cartoon tattoos and moved to designs that complement this type of tattooing. Today, his tattoos feature flowers, animals, birds, and shapes.
The tattoos with these objects typically have backdrops to elevate them further and make them stand out. For example, he used blue shades to bring out the colors of Crush, one of the sea turtles from the movie Finding Nemo.
Watercolor tattoos use colors to convey self-expression beautifully. With limited or no outlining and blurred edges, these types of tattoos are all about recreating the signature watercolor art with body ink.
These top watercolor tattoo artists are great at using this technique to produce stunning body art and give it their unique touch. Each one of them has spent a great deal of time perfecting their art.
So what do you think of these watercolor tattoo artists? Do you know any other great watercolor tattoo artists?
Share with us your favorite watercolor tattoo artists, and show us your watercolor tattoos!
Watercolor tattoos don’t fade more quickly or easily than traditional tattoos. The truth is that all tattoos fade a little. You could argue watercolor tattoos lose their luster and appear faded over time because of the lack of outlines, but with the latest techniques applied a tattoo does not rely on outlines anymore to stay in shape forever..
It’s also important to note that the healing process, aftercare, and other factors like exposure to UV rays also impact how quickly a tattoo fades.
Recently, color ink and overall tattoo gear have improved, which results in a more vivid tattoo that doesn’t lose its shine or blend easily.
Watercolor tattoos do hurt like most tattoos, but not necessarily more than, say, traditional tattoos.
That said, depending on the design of the tattoo, its placement, and the artist’s technique, the level of pain can be higher and longer than, for example, a tattoo with just a black outline.
Watercolor tattoos may involve different layers of colors, so there’s a lot of etching and scratching.
As with all kinds of tattoos, where you choose to get it done may also determine whether it will hurt more than usual. Tattoos on the rib cage, knees, shins, shoulder blade and ankles usually cause more pain.
The pain depends also on the amount of hours you are getting tattooed in one session. The 6th hour hurts more then the 2nd hour.
The cost of a watercolor tattoo heavily depends on the tattoo design, size, and where you’re getting it done. Some artists may also charge higher than others, so that also impacts the cost.
This type of tattoo can be more expensive compared to a classic tattoo design in black ink tattoos because they require special techniques and lots of different colors of ink.
In the US, a small watercolor tattoo, like a watercolor feather tattoo, a watercolor butterfly tattoo, or a watercolor bird tattoo, starts at $50, whereas a large tattoo, for example, an abstract design over the lower arm on one side, can cost upwards of $500.
Upper arms, forearms, and ankles are the most popular placement for watercolor tattooing. But you can get a watercolor tattoo anywhere on your body. Most people choose to get their watercolor design done on their arms because it’s more visible.
Watercolor tattoo ink is safe for you if it’s from a reputable brand and you’re working with a professional tattoo artist who is skilled in watercolor tattoos.
Some color inks are derived from heavy metals, which can be problematic for people with sensitive skin.
It’s best to discuss the safety with your artist and ensure that they are using sterile needles and fresh inks from trusted brands for your watercolor tattoo.
The color pigment of a tattoo stays in the skin below the layer that holds the skins natural color. Therefor darker skin tones or not ideal to be tattooed with colors lighter then their own color. Eg. yellow and orange or light green hues on a dark brown skin will not work.
If your skin is slightly darker, then magenta and blue are great examples of colors to go for. Your artist can advice you on this, when he sees your skin tone.
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