Top Advantages of Specializing in One Tattoo Style | Painful Pleasures Community

Top Advantages of Specializing in One Tattoo Style

Find out how being the champion of one tattoo style can boost your career. Plus, check out other tattoo styles by specialty artists around the globe.
by Danny Tress Last Updated: February 1, 2024

With so many tattoo styles out there, it’s hard to choose just one you love to do most. But have you ever wondered why some artists stick to one tattoo style like it’s their artistic soulmate? Some of the best-known artists in the game have built their careers around just one unique style. Maybe you’ve thought about becoming a master of one particular style, fantasizing about clients making you their new go-to artist for life. Well, guess what? That dream is more than achievable with the right dedication. There are tons of benefits to being either a specialty artist or a versatile tattooer… but this article is all about one-lane styles. So if that seems like a fire career path to you, then buckle up for the top 5 benefits of specializing in one style.

1. You’ll Stand Out with Specialty Tattoo Styles (Ditch the Vanilla!)

The first pro of being a master in one style is obvious: you stand out. Imagine a world where everyone’s tattoos looked the same—bland, huh? Specializing in a niche style instantly sets you apart from the tattooing masses and cuts down on your competition. Your new competition? Other artists who specialize in the style you favor. Now, to be clear, this is no easy feat. Artists who master in one style can often be highly skilled in that lane, and have a dedicated following of clients, so you’ll need to dedicate a lot of time and energy to stand out among them. But putting in the work is worth it. As you master your unique tattoo style—watercolor, black and gray, cyber sigilism, neotraditional, or what have you—you’ll be creating your specialized artistic signature bit by bit. Over the years, you’ll accumulate a digital portfolio chock-full of specialized work, and soon, clients will come to associate your name with one style and one style only. It’s a long, difficult, but exciting journey… and the payoff is so worth it, because you can become an icon.

Ok, but HOW Do You Stand Out?

Specializing in a specific style doesn’t mean painting by number. Sure, countless artists specialize in black and gray realism, but there’s a reason they’re all different in the same way no two snowflakes are alike. Choose a style, then make it your own by adding a unique, signature twist to it. Experiment with different tattoo styles and techniques that might add unexpected and visually appealing elements to your work. For instance, you might try adding texture to your black and gray work with stippling in different needle configurations: mags, round shaders, or even liners. Or maybe you want to be known for your bold, fat, crispy lines and work tirelessly on perfecting them. Or, from a less technical standpoint, maybe you want to focus on one subject in your style. So, for instance, if you’re specializing in black and gray realism… maybe you exclusively tattoo pop culture icons. It’s all about honing your craft in a way that feels right to you. Eventually, your style choices will come together in one cohesive style that make clients go, “Wow, I want this on my skin!”

Wondering “Can I Mix Tattoo Styles?” YES.

Now, let’s address the million-dollar question: can you mix tattoo styles? Absolutely! Specializing doesn’t mean you’re stuck in a style straightjacket. In fact… you probably should mix styles if you really want to stand out. I know one artist who loved tattooing Pokemon and black and gray florals. She’s since combined the two, and has since attracted hundreds of clients who can’t find work like hers anywhere else. So, yeah, mixing styles is a power move and can ultimately make you stand out more. It’s like being a tattoo alchemist, blending elements from different styles to create something entirely new.

The only “downside” to mixing tattoo styles is you might find yourself putting in extra hard work and energy mastering different techniques. For instance, if you’re tattooing bold, colorful Pokemon over top delicate flowers with stippled detailing… well, you’re gonna need to be good at both to put it simply. So, if you’re going to mix tattoo styles, don’t half-ass it. Put in the work and reap the benefits. Practicing different styles is a lot easier when you use tools like APOF practice skins or Peak’s dotwork pens. These tools allow you to make mistakes (those will be inevitable when you’re becoming a master of one style) without messing with citrus fruit or a reckless friend’s all-too-willing skin.

Another perk of mixing tattoo styles (or specializing in one?) Well, aside from being a good business move that can make you an icon, it’s also a form of self-expression. Super-concentrated self-expression. So, you can consider questions like: what’s the meaning behind your chosen style? Dive into the world of tattoo styles and meanings, where each piece tells a unique story. From traditional symbolism to avant-garde choices like cyber sigilism, your style is your love language.

2. You’ll Win the Loyalest of Clients

Here are just a few artists with super-loyal clientele who love their signature styles:

  1. Kasey (Gonzo) Gonzalez: Black and Grey Realism
  2. Amanda Graves: Glitter Realism
  3. Kimberly Graziano: Anime 
  4. Oscar Akermo: Micro Realism
  5. Autumn Hudson: Color Surrealism 
  6. Steven Compton: Honestly Don’t Know What to Call His Style but It’s Cool 
  7. Silo: Florals

One thing you’ll notice about these artists?

Their Insta followings are massive. Aside from being insanely talented, these artists are also rocking curated portfolios that feature tattoos in one specific style. Clients love a curated Instagram full of work in the style they want on their own bodies.

Now, obviously, a follower count does not directly translate to a client count. But these artists nonetheless all have loyal clients who repeatedly schedule appointments with them. I myself am rocking three tattoos by the talented Kimberly Graziano.

The reason for this is basic human psychology.

Humans are programmed to like familiar things. We are also programmed to like patterns and consistency. So it’s only natural that when people find an artist they like and trust, they’ll return to them. Especially if that person is looking for one cohesive style all over their body. Sure, there are plenty of people who like to collect tattoos in all different styles from a variety of artists. But even in instances where you have clients who are “collectors,” your chance of them booking you increases when you’ve mastered a style they’re looking for.

With Instagram being such a massive marketing tool for artists worldwide, it’s more and more common for clients to seek very specific styles. All it takes is typing the name of the style in a search bar and BAM: the best of the best artists specializing in those styles appear at their fingertips. When you master your own style (putting in the hard work mentioned above) you’ll also show up in that search, attracting the attention of clients who may very well become repeat clients. Repeat clients who only want your style and your work on their body. The best part about loyal, repeat clients is you never have to worry about not having an appointment in your books. Plus, you can develop close bonds—even friendships!—with repeat clients, enriching your career.

For other artists specializing in popular styles, check out our recent blog on trending tattoos. Oh, and if you need a little help marketing your style on Instagram, we’ve got some tips for you right here.

3. You’ll Generate Word-of-Mouth Magic

When you’re the go-to person for a particular style, these loyal clients become your personal hype squad. Especially if your friends with them. Satisfied customers won’t be able to help but gush about your specialty in watercolor wonders, fire neotraditional pieces, anime bangers, or whatever it is you’re great at. Word-of-mouth marketing kicks in, and suddenly, your schedule is jam-packed. Ok, that might sound a little idealistic. Word-of-mouth marketing takes a while to ignite, after all. But still: it doesn’t hurt to have your name in circulation. Aside from Instagram and TikTok, another great way to showcase your specialty style is at conventions… be sure to bring business cards, so you can attract even more repeat clients from around the world! And be friendly when you meet them. While being a master of your specialty tattoo style is important, being personable is arguably just as important. Clients won’t become repeat clients if they don’t like working with you.

Ready to Start Specializing?

There you have it: some of the top perks of (and the not-so-secret sauce) behind specializing in tattoo styles. From standing out in a sea of ink to attracting the right kind of clients, going niche is a pathway that isn’t for the faint of heart, but unlocks invaluable rewards. So, go forth! Find your style, own it like a boss, and become the master you were destined to be.

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