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Mixing Styles with Watercolor Tattoos

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In an industry such as the tattoo world, experimentation is always taking place. From equipment to techniques, people engrossed in the culture strive to advance tattooing through producing new ideas and products all the time. One of the latest techniques that has gained traction in the relatively recent past is the idea of mixing two different tattoo styles together. No longer are the days of strict adherence to specific styles and imagery; tattoos have truly become an open canvas for people to push the boundaries of creativity.

That being said, not every tattoo style can mix well with one another. For example, if you have a huge, complex, colorful Japanese traditional tattoo and a small fine line piece, the fine line piece would be unable to compete and ultimately get taken over by the gravity of the larger, color saturated Japanese traditional piece. Below, we will look specifically at watercolor tattoos, what they are, and what are the best styles to mix with them. First, let’s explore generally how you and your artist can approach the idea of mixing tattoo styles.

Ways to Mix Tattoo Styles

Generally speaking, there are two main ways that one can go about mixing tattoo styles together. For one, you can do so-called mixing by proximity. This can occur when one of two tattoos you want to combine has already been inked on your skin. In this scenario, you design and place the new tattoo in such a way where the design works with the previous tattoo, the placement allows the pieces to seem related and work off each other, and the size and color differences aren’t too dramatic, like our previous example. This method is a fantastic way to breathe new life into an old piece and would provide an easy opportunity for a touch up of the older tattoo as well.

The other method for mixing tattoo styles occurs 100% in the design phase, which has earned this method the name of mixing by design. This method of mixing is fantastic if you have a large canvas of skin and a desire for multiple related styles that can be combined together at inception, essentially creating one single tattoo. A skilled artist who has experience with mixing tattoo styles together can get a lot done as far as combining two otherwise separate tattoo styles. But as mentioned, some tattoo style combinations can be mixed better than others; today, we will examine watercolor tattoos and what styles they mix best with.

Watercolor Tattoos

Watercolor tattoos can come in a lot of shapes and forms. Oftentimes, they make for a fantastic background element, a unique way to shade, or can inspire a certain mood. In general, watercolor tattoos and elements aim to create the same effect an oil painting has, where the object is almost dipping, yet dry. This is accomplished by reducing or eliminating a solid black outline around the piece that exists in most other styles. Due to the flexibility in how it can be used and how little or how much watercolor you want, this style makes for a fantastic tattoo to mix with. Let’s explore some of these other styles that can work effectively with watercolor to create a unique tattoo all your own.

Styles That Mix Well with Watercolor Tattoos

Color Realism

A color realism centerpiece creates a great opportunity to incorporate a watercolor background to portray a certain mood and feeling. For example, you could use reds, oranges, and yellows in a watercolor background surrounding a bird or flower to give more warmth to the realistic piece of nature that sits in the middle. This is great for say, taking a more standard rose and giving it a different look and feel all its own. Darker colors like blues, greens, and purples can make for dramatic, cold, or mysterious backgrounds. Two flowers with different background watercolors will look and feel quite different.


Abstract being such a flexible tattoo on its own lends itself towards being a fantastic option to mix with watercolor. Both styles can be extremely free flowing, which makes them extremely easy to intertwine. With a skilled artist that has experience with both these styles, the sky is the limit for what can be accomplished.

Black and Grey

Black and grey tattoos create an interesting opportunity to combine styles with watercolor. In this scenario, watercolor can be used outside of the boundaries of the outline to give a totally different vibe to the same black and grey design on its own. This makes for great opportunities to mix watercolor by proximity in with a previously inked black and grey design to inspire new meaning in the original tattoo and give it new life. What’s more, if there is blank space inside an existing black and grey piece that you want to infuse with color or you want to design the tattoo this way, watercolor can create extremely interesting color flows within a space.

Contact First Class Tattoo Today!

For artists with experience and expertise in a range of styles and the processes of mixing them, First Class Tattoo in New York City is a premier destination. Mixing watercolor tattoos is just the beginning of what our team can accomplish and we want to work with you to create the tattoo of your dreams. Our goal is to bring your tattoos to life on your skin and we will do so expertly as we have done for years. Contact First Class Tattoo today to talk to an artist and get started with your tattoo journey

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