Blackwork Tattoos – 60+ Designs And The Best Tattoo Artists

Blackwork tattoo
Choose the best blackwork tattoo designs among the 60 unique and trendy ideas with meanings gathered in our article. Only quality photos.

The history of blackwork tattoos goes back to the inception of body art. The first dye people extracted was black, so the first tattoos were performed exclusively in dark colors. 

Then Polynesian tribes began to use tattoos as amulets or as a way to communicate with the gods. They used small patterns and geometric figures, which in turn became one of the styles of blackwork tattoos.

In 1769, navigator James Cook visited Tahiti. On his return home, he revealed to the world such a phenomenon as the tattoo. It quickly became widespread and many styles of tattoos began to appear.

However, black tattoos have not lost their popularity and even gained distinctive features and later became a separate trend which is called blackwork

At this point, we invite you to move on to a detailed introduction to the blackwork style, learn its distinctive features and types, choose one of the 60+ blackwork tattoo designs, and compare this style to black and gray tattoos.

😎 Let’s get started!

Blackwork Tattoo Must-Known Distinctive Features

The blackwork tattoo style is easy to distinguish from others. Of course, its main feature is the ubiquitous use of black. Even though now popular Japanese subjects use other colors, black is still dominant. Below we will list all the distinctive features of blackwork tattoos.

Negative space is the space around or inside the tattoo which is not filled with ink.Blackwork tattooMost subjects (except Japanese ones) use only black color, which can be complemented by halftones.
Simple geometric figures 💠Blackwork tattooThe basis of all the subjects of the classic blackwork is the use of simple geometric shapes, which are often filled with black.
Different subjects 🌉Blackwork tattooBlackwork has no strict rules in the choice of plot. You can embody any idea you like.
Big size ⛰Blackwork tattooUsually, blackwork tattoos are performed in large sizes, and you can often find both sleeves and full body.

What Does Blackwork Tattoo Mean?

What Does Blackwork Tattoo Mean?

At first glance, it may seem that blackwork is any black tattoo. However, this is not correct. The blackwork style has distinctive features. Also, this style can be called not just a tattoo, but a certain way of creating an image.

A blackwork tattoo is an image that is applied in solid patches of black ink and characterized by the use of negative space. A tattoo artist, when making such a drawing, deliberately darkens certain areas of the skin and leaves some of them untouched. Due to this, the figure acquires outlines and empty spaces become a part of the plot.

Blackwork Tattoo Styles

Blackwork has four main styles, which are often intertwined with each other. 

Ornament/GeometricOrnament/GeometricThe main subjects and elements of this direction are ornaments and geometric figures. Most often such tattoos are made in the form of sleeves on the arms and legs.
Dotwork/GraphicsDotwork/GraphicsDotwork is a style of tattooing that forms a picture from dots without using lines, and graphics use lines, strokes, and strokes. Often they are combined to make a unique picture.
JapanJapanThis style differs from the others by its subjects related to Japanese folklore and the use of other colors. However, black is still dominant.
Classic blackworkJapanThis style differs from others by simply covering the whole body (or most of it) in black.

Top 8 Blackwork Tattoo Artists

At first glance, it may seem that blackwork tattoos are very easy to apply. However, this is not entirely true. The tattoo artist needs a long and painstaking process to fill an area of skin with a layer of black. 

Also worth considering is the fact that blackwork tattoos are often large and can have a lot to do (if they are geometric designs). 

So below we list you a list of 8 highly qualified tattoo artists who work in the blackwork style. Each of the tattoo artists is from a different city, so we hope you can find someone nearby.

enpa Konchok Cartier
Jenpa Konchok Cartier
Styles Blackwork
Location Boston
See more examples of work
Brücius Von Xylander

Brücius Von Xylander
Styles Blackwork
Custom Designs
Linework tattoo
Location San Francisco
See more examples of work
Elle Webb

Elle Webb
Styles Blackwork
Location Oakland
See more examples of work
Kenneth Neubert

Kenneth Neubert
Styles Blackwork
Location Seattle
See more examples of work
The gallery was not found!

Diana DeAugustine
Styles Blackwork
Location San Diego
See more examples of work
Kaitlin Green

Kaitlin Green
Styles Blackwork
Black and grey
Location Denver
See more examples of work
Jordan Cole Wright

Jordan Cole Wright
Styles Fineline
Location San Francisco
See more examples of work
Jennifer Rahman

Jennifer Rahman
Styles Fineline
Location Philadelphia
See more examples of work

💡 Note:
If you haven’t found a tattoo artist near you, you can check out the full list of artists who work in the blackwork style.

Blackwork Tattoo Ideas

We have already become very familiar with the blackwork tattoo style and it’s time to move on to reviewing and selecting ideas. Below we have gathered for you more than 60 blackwork tattoo designs for men and women.

Full Sleeve Designs

One of the most popular blackwork tattoo designs is the full sleeve. It is applied to the arms and legs. Traditional geometric figures, ornaments, or tribal designs are used as ideas.

Such ideas allow you to fully emphasize the distinctive features of the blackwork tattoo and make a stylish, concise, and eye-catching design.

On Arms

On Legs

Full Body Designs

Full body designs refer to classic blackwork and involve large ink stains all over the body or parts of it. They can be accompanied by geometric figures, patterns, or tribal designs. Only the most ardent tattooing fans can match this style as you would have to completely cover a large area of skin with a tattoo.

Tribal Designs

Tribal tattoos were a kind of amulet for their owners. They protected them from evil spirits, protected them during battle, and allowed priests to communicate with the gods. Tribal tattoos could also be a passport to a person. The body depicted key moments in life, status, age, and other distinctive traits.

Geometric Designs

Geometric designs have formed a separate style of blackwork tattoo and are among the most popular ideas. They consist of geometric patterns and shapes that are completely or partially filled with black.

Geometric tattoo designs have the following meanings:

  • 💠 Harmony;
  • 💠 Serenity;
  • 💠 Justice; 
  • 💠 Power of Mind;
  • 💠 Integrity; 
  • 💠 Openness.

Japanese Designs

Japanese blackwork tattoo designs are unique because it is the only style that uses other colors besides black. It is characterized by elements of red that are combined with black fillings.

The most popular Japanese blackwork tattoo designs are Tengu masks and mythological demons. Depending on the mask, the tattoo has different meanings:

  • 👺 Razin – power;
  • 👺 Oni Daiko – prosperity;
  • 👺 Yaksha – protection from evil spirits;
  • 👺 Kitsune – protection from evil tongues and slander;
  • 👺 Bakeneko – protects against vindictiveness.

Flower Designs

Blackwork tattoo ideas with flowers have two different styles of execution. The first style uses the dotwork technique, where the pattern is not made with lines, but with dots. 

The second style uses negative space and forms the pattern with a black fill. The tattoo artist doesn’t draw the flower itself, he paints everything around with black, and the space forms the picture.

Blackwork tattoos with flowers have the following meanings:

  • 💮 Love; 
  • 💮 Joy;
  • 💮 Freshness; 
  • 💮 Unity and vitality.

Panther Designs

The black panther and blackwork tattoos were like created for each other. Black filling allows you to portray the animal perfectly.

The blackwork black panther tattoo has the following meanings:

  • 👣 Speed; 
  • 👣 Endurance; 
  • 👣 Cunning; 
  • 👣 Beauty; 
  • 👣 Agility;
  • 👣 Calculating.

Space Designs

Space blackwork tattoo ideas are performed using the dotwork technique. Thanks to this, small elements look more expressive and the overall composition attracts more attention.

Space blackwork tattoo ideas have the following meanings:

  • 🪐 Orderliness;
  • 🪐 Integrity; 
  • 🪐 Powerfulness;
  • 🪐 Fertility;
  • 🪐 Serenity;
  • 🪐 Youthfulness.

Small Designs

One of the distinctive features of the blackwork style is the large size of the patterns. However, you can often find small, simple designs as well. 

The panda tattoo deserves special attention because it skillfully uses negative space and forms a picture without the use of outlines.

Blackwork panda tattoos have the following meanings:

  • 🦝 Friendship; 
  • 🦝 Openness; 
  • 🦝 Disposition and trust.

Make Sure You Know The Difference: Blackwork vs Black & Gray Tattoos

At first glance, you might not see any difference between blackwork and black and gray tattoos. Both styles use monochrome (only black and black & gray colors, respectively). However, this is the only characteristic that links these styles. Let’s find out how they differ.


Black & Gray

Black & Gray
Drawing techniquesBlackwork tattoo ideas use drawing styles such as dotwork, graphics, and single-color fills. Most of them are flat drawings without volume.Uses shadows to create three-dimensional tattoos.
Tattoo sizeMost often large tattoos and applied as full sleeves or even full bodysuits.Most often tattoos are mid to large.
PlotsThere are no specific typical plots, any tattoo idea can be applied.Uses realistic subjects as the style of realistic tattoo.

Benefits of Blackwork Tattoos

Blackwork tattoos have several benefits over colored styles, which are due to the use of only black color.

  • Blackwork tattoos allow you to cover any old drawing you no longer like.
  • Black ink retains the depth of color longer.
  • Easier to get, although it does take a long time to apply (at least 6 hours).


Blackwork tattoo

The blackwork style has a long history that goes back to the birth of the tattoo. It adopted some distinctive features from tribal tattoos and elevated the use of black to an absolute.

All ideas in black look stylish and elegant. However, because you can do any idea in blackwork, you might have a hard time deciding on a design. Therefore, in this article, we have gathered for you 60+ blackwork tattoo ideas, highlighted the main distinguishing features, and pointed out the best tattoo artists of this genre.

? Look stylish and elegant!


🧐 Who invented blackwork tattoos?

The blackwork style is an evolution of the tribal tattoos that became widespread after James Cook’s 1769 voyage to the islands of Polynesia.

❓ What is a black ink tattoo called?

Black ink or blackwork tattoo is a style that uses large patches of black and empty spaces that form the outline of the design.

🟩 Do black tattoos turn green?

Over time, the black pigment in the skin decreases, and the tattoo takes on a green or blue hue.


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