Although white is an available color for tattooing these days, the concept of a black and white tattoo generally refers to different shades of black and grey contrasted against your original skin color. The lighter your skin color, the more stark the contrast and the darker your skin color, the less contrast. There are many shades of black ranging from midnight black to light grey and all the shades in-between.
There are some benefits in choosing a black and white tattoo. Black ink is reported to last longer than color inks and be more resistant to fading with sun exposure and time. Black inks can be cheaper than color, making a black and white tattoo possibly less expensive than a color tattoo – but that’s not a good reason to get a black and white! Some artists say that black and white tattoos heal quicker than color tats as the ink is easier to assimilate by your body. Black is a strong color in the use of cover up tattoos as well.
Photo by “SoulRider.222″ on Flickr
Black and white tattoos tend to represent an old school or purist essence as the original tattoo’s were done in a single color, usually some shade of black or grey – although sometimes there was a huge of blue or green in the original inks. Black and white tattoos are popular as, but not limited to, prison tattoos, tribal tattoo and portraits. In prison, often the only the ink available is from a pen and that is most likely black. Tribal tattoos are generally stark in their lines demanding contrast and black is often the color of choice. Portraits, as with drawing, come out fantastic with the shaded use of black, grey and white.
Photo by “teriyaki tofu” on Flickr
Any tattoo will look good in black and white from a small ankle tattoo to a full back piece – from a small rose to a huge eagle! The shading that can be done today with black and grey can make a phenomenal tattoo. Even images that have a lot of color in real life such as a flower, can look great captured in stark black and white just like with the use of black and white photography. A popular tribal tattoo of today is an arm or leg band encircling the arm around the biceps or the leg around the calf.
Photo by “Tattoo_Lover” on Flickr
Tribal tattoos are also popular along the chest and back. Black and white portraits are usually tattooed by themselves and tend to be small to medium in size versus something larger like a sleeve or a bigger tattoo. The shoulder blade, chest and calf are popular spots for portraits. Portraits will need to be big enough for the artist to capture the details or the subject.