Have you ever walked down the street passed a bar, car repair or arcade shop and spotted a design or picture you thought would make a good tattoo? If so this is the heart and soul of the urban tattoo. It’s a free market on designs in a way you only find in the larger cities where the senses are constantly inundated. Urban tattoos aren’t about symbolism as they themselves are a symbol. They tell a story more about the wearer than they do about themselves. You pull images from the sides of building and make them your own. The cars you see, the art, the graffiti can all be your own in this unique way of making it all about you. These tattoos can have a mural style incorporating nature or stark patterns. There are few designs this colorful and rich. Urban tattoos look as if they were airbrushed, and if you’ve seen a mural done in color hard edges with blush paint interiors you’ve seen urban art such as you’ll find with urban tattoos.
Also called ghetto or gangsta, these tattoos have a certain style all their own. You’ll see many of the same images you find in other styles. In this style, while they are highly detailed and perfectly designed, there is something about them. In the face of the clown, you see no sign of sentimentality; instead there’s a hard knowing glint to the eyes captured within a slightly menacing squint. A cigar with a thin flag of smoke billowing upward is clenched in the teeth or held lightly between two fingers. A few twenty dollar bills peek out of the collar. This isn’t the clown you’d see at a child’s birthday party. This clown has been up to something.
Then there are the outright gangsters. They might be highly stylized outlines or very detailed images of 1930s tommy gun toting well dressed tough guys. There might be pin up models or skeletons all done in art that feels as if it were drawn in a smoke filled room. Instead of hearts and flowers, urban tattoos might have backgrounds filled with dragons, religious imagery, skulls, cars or flames. More men than women usually favor the urban tattoo.
Larger pictures such as the highly detailed clowns mentioned will need space and work well on the back, chest or abdomen. This style goes very well with the half sleeve tattoo or full sleeve tattoo because mural type art is such a big part of the style.
Another great thing about this style is that it can meld together so easily. It’s easier to get a tattoo here and there, even done over a time span of years, and yet have them all fit together. The only drawback is this style can clash with other types of tattoos, unless they can be reworked to match it in some way.