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The World's Most Artful Tattoo Designs

Fascinated by body art? Here's a gallery—which will be updated regularly—of the world's best tattoo designs.

  • <p>The London-based artist specializes in modern tribal motifs.</p>
  • <p>Wachob applies the theories of fine art to tattooing everything from leather to fruit and, yes, people. Her work, like this composition of drips and brushstrokes, can easily be mistaken for traditional ink drawings.</p>
  • <p>A surreal portrait with geometric patterning.</p>
  • <p>"I make the beautiful ugly," Nyberg says.</p>
  • <p>After tattooing Heath Ledger at Saved Tattoo, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Campbell became an overnight success. He specializes in the interplay of popular culture, collaborating with Louis Vuitton, at one moment, and penning images of Michael Jackson in another.</p>
  • <p>Here, Rense achieves the texture of wool using a pointillism effect.</p>
  • <p>Black says his clients are on the older end (30 to 40 years old) and typically aren’t ink addicts. "They’re usually people who are not really interested in tattoo but see my art (which is not conventional) and become intrigued."</p>
  • <p>The lines on the faces of the Maori narrated the story of the bearers’ lives.</p>
  • <p>If you're permanence-phobic, Tattly is a line of temporary tattoos by designers for designers and design-minded kids.</p>
  • <p>A set of two tats are only five bucks. Order Tattly tats <a href="http://tattly.com/" target="_blank">here</a>.</p>
  • <p>Italian tattoo studio Lippo Tattoo creates 3-D tattoos using shadows and perspectives.</p>
  • <p>Lippo Tattoo uses one particular technique where the skin appears to be peeling like wallpaper that can reveal something almost Magritte-esque.</p>
  • <p>Sometimes it can look a little gross.</p>
  • <p>Other times, it's enchanting.</p>
  • 01 /17
    | TOMAS TOMAS, INTO YOU, LONDON

    The London-based artist specializes in modern tribal motifs.

  • 02 /17
    | AMANDA WACHOB, DAREDEVIL, NEW YORK CITY

    Wachob applies the theories of fine art to tattooing everything from leather to fruit and, yes, people. Her work, like this composition of drips and brushstrokes, can easily be mistaken for traditional ink drawings.

  • 03 /17
    | JONAS NYBERG, GÖTEBORG CLASSIC TATTOOING, GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN

    A surreal portrait with geometric patterning.

  • 04 /17
    | JONAS NYBERG, GÖTEBORG CLASSIC TATTOOING, GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN

    "I make the beautiful ugly," Nyberg says.

  • 05 /17
    | SCOTT CAMPBELL, SAVED TATTOO, BROOKLYN

    After tattooing Heath Ledger at Saved Tattoo, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Campbell became an overnight success. He specializes in the interplay of popular culture, collaborating with Louis Vuitton, at one moment, and penning images of Michael Jackson in another.

  • 06 /17
    | KIM RENSE, PAPANATOS TATTOOS, THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS

    Here, Rense achieves the texture of wool using a pointillism effect.

  • 07 /17
    | YANN BLACK, INK BUTTER, MONTREAL

    Black says his clients are on the older end (30 to 40 years old) and typically aren’t ink addicts. "They’re usually people who are not really interested in tattoo but see my art (which is not conventional) and become intrigued."

  • 08 /17
    | EDITH BURCHETT, WIFE OF TATTOO ARTIST GEORGE BURCHETT, LONDON, C. 1920
  • 09 /17
    | TATTOOIST AND PIN-UP GIRL CINDY RAY IN HER STUDIO IN IVANHOE, AUSTRALIA, 1960S.
  • 10 /17
    | TATTOOIST RON ACKERS AT WORK, BRISTOL, GREAT BRITAIN, 1950S.
  • 11 /17
    | MAORI, NEW ZEALAND, ABOUT 1900.

    The lines on the faces of the Maori narrated the story of the bearers’ lives.

  • 12 /17

    If you're permanence-phobic, Tattly is a line of temporary tattoos by designers for designers and design-minded kids.

  • 13 /17

    A set of two tats are only five bucks. Order Tattly tats here.

  • 14 /17

    Italian tattoo studio Lippo Tattoo creates 3-D tattoos using shadows and perspectives.

  • 15 /17

    Lippo Tattoo uses one particular technique where the skin appears to be peeling like wallpaper that can reveal something almost Magritte-esque.

  • 16 /17

    Sometimes it can look a little gross.

  • 17 /17

    Other times, it's enchanting.

Some see skin as the ultimate canvas, a blank slate begging to be decorated. There is a robust visual history to the art of the tattoo, and here we’ve compiled a gallery of beautiful and unique designs.

Tattooist Ron Ackers at work, Bristol, Great Britain, 1950s.The Amsterdam Tattoo Museum, Amsterdam

Here you'll find people who turned their arms into whales; their faces into maps of their life stories; their backs into battle scenes; their scalps into plates of eggs and bacon (Okay, so maybe they're not all beautiful).

Some of these are by contemporary visionaries in the world of skin art, such as Amsterdam Tattoo Museum founder Henk Schiffmacher, who's inked the likes of Kurt Cobain and Anthony Kiedis. Others are famous tattooists from history, like Cindy Ray, Australian pin-up girl of the 1960s, whose memoir Story of a Tattooed Girl shocked in a time before body art went mainstream. For those opposed to permanent ink, there's also the work of Tattly, pioneer of "designy" temporary tattoos. Keep checking back for new additions, as we’ll be updating the gallery regularly!

Slideshow Credits: 11 / THE AMSTERDAM TATTOO MUSEUM, AMSTERDAM;