Historically black out tattoos were used for cover ups but due to the ability to use the blackout technique to highlight sections of colour, this technique has now become sought after even by collectors with untouched skin. The black was used to hide the sins of previous tattoos where the styles or themes may no longer fit with an ageing body whilst also acting as a background to the tattoos that remain or the new tattoo being inked.
Blackout tattoos are not to be considered lightly though. They are very costly, painful and time consuming as the black has to be perfectly packed into the skin to cover old tattoos or block out any natural skin pigment to achieve the desired effect. But when done correctly it can give a failed tattoo new life or remove the embarrassment from someone who was previously afraid to show off their ill chosen tattoos in public.
Blacked out tattoos are also suitable for hiding scars or old animal bites, although the tattooing over old scar tissue can be more painful than being tattooed on normal skin due to the nerve endings on the epidermis.
The style was originally pioneered by Chester Lee from Singapore as a way to deal with cover ups. Using clean lines, geometric shapes and scaling tattoos to large sized pieces, Chester has elevated this artistry to another level.
The blacked out canvas has also allowed for the creation of negative tattoos by putting white tattoo ink over the blacked out space. Some of the designs are pretty phenomenal.
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“Slowly the new generation is appreciating the cleanliness of this kind of work, and the art of looking at just shapes and lines that emphasize the contours of the body,” Lee has commented.
Other artists like Esther Garcia have evolved the style inspired by the tradition of Dutch flower painting from the 17th century.
She depicts realistic flowers with such vibrancy that the tones of red and pink contrast against the black backdrop, to create small masterpieces framed by black.
Mostly self thought, her tattoos, with their nature themes & botanical imagery are immediately recognizable due to their organic body placement and unusual techniques in creating realistic flower ensembles.
Check out further examples of Esther’s amazing work below: