My husband and I got inked last week (sorry mum), so I’ve looked at literally thousands of tattoo designs recently. I am blown away by the creativity, quirkiness and sheer genius of what I’m seeing. I decided to gather some favourites together into a collection, focussing on the elegance and simplicity of monochromatic tattoos.

Martynas Snioka

During my search I discovered a firm favourite, Martynas Snioka. His designs are simple, slick and his technique is sharp and precise. The results are amazing, with his artwork permanently etched into so many humans! Unfortunately he’s based at Angis Tattoo in Vilnius, Lithuania so I won’t be visiting him anytime soon (mum will be happy), so I will have to be satisfied with viewing his talent from afar…

Design by Dave Olteanu on Josh Grigg

Another favourite is this design by Dave Olteanu that has recently taken residency on the (very buff) chest of my friend and local website designer Josh Grigg. The Japanese samurai theme is wicked, and the artwork is so clean and sharp.

Josh has been a long time fan of Dave’s art & tattooing, especially his fantasy animals. He wanted to create a Japanese style Samurai tattoo with detailed Kabuto. The warrior is known for strength and courage, reminding him of everything life has thrown at him and that he will always keep powering forward. The wolf symbolises the support and protection of a pack (friends and family) when he needs it, but also have the freedom to be independent. The fox symbolises the mental strength and the ability to master the mind, a trait so critical in his life after having multiple operations at a young age and having to learn to walk again.

Design by Tashi Mannox on Sam Smith

I have loved this tibetan calligraphy design on my friend Sam Smith’s arm since he got the first line tattooed 10 years ago. It took a few sittings to get to the finished product, but it was worth the wait. It’s a striking design and I love how it wraps around his arm rather than being straight lines of text somewhere else on his body.

The text was initially translated and created by Tashi Mannox, one of the world’s foremost contemporary Tibetan calligraphers who spent two decades as a monk of the Kagyu order. The words translate in english to:

Gain mastery over your body. Guard yourself from acting angrily. Keep yourself from acting wrongly. Use your body well.
Gain mastery over your speech, Guard yourself from speaking angrily. Keep yourself from speaking wrongly, Use your speech well.
Gain mastery over your mind. Guard yourself from angry thoughts. Keep yourself from mental baseness. Use your mind well.
The steadfast are controlled in body and in speech. The steadfast are controlled in mind. This is perfect mastery.

Various Artists

And finally here’s a mish-mash of various designs from around the web that have inspired me. I love their sharpness, simplicity and quirkiness and the location of where they’ve each been tattooed on the body. Of particular interest are the blackout tattoos, that were generally used as cover ups but becoming increasingly common as initial pieces of work. The effects of the reversed out designs are eye catching and different.

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