I think we can all agree — flames are badass. Seen as both warm and comforting, or dangerous and destructive, their bright colors and abstract shape make them suitable for all tattoo styles from whimsical watercolors to bold traditional.
Flames burst out of a lighter, wrapping around the arm and coalescing in a whimsical depiction of a fox in this unique watercolor tattoo. Fire imagery is well-suited for watercolor ink. Because flames involve amorphous shapes and different shades of similar colors, this subject may be better suited for the watercolor trend than other images that require greater definition. The watercolor trend greatly reimagines what tattoos can achieve. While it is not well-suited for all subjects, flames are perfect for this style because they allow for more abstraction than other subjects.
Minimalist tattoos focusing on linework and small images are a popular trend. This method of tattooing is very accessible because small tattoos incorporating few colors are quick and much cheaper than large-scale pieces. This tiny flame illustrates that minimalist tattoos can maintain the color and fun of bigger designs without as much of a time (or skin) commitment.
The addition of flames to this classic skull illustration is the difference between a beautiful anatomical image and a creepy dismembered head. Without the flames, the skull is still a perfectly executed design, but the flame accents are what allow the tattoo to stand out.
A witchy, clawed hand caresses a fistful of flames. The use of dotwork to illustrate the flames adds to the ethereal quality of this tattoo. Dotwork allows the flames to feel like more like an illusion that the hand has created.
The solidly lined flames in this tattoo represent a stark contrast to the dotwork of the prior design. These two different methods for tattooing one subject illustrates how seemingly simple changes dramatically alter the overall design. These flames threaten to engulf the famed Venus de Milo statue head, and their solid, sharp appearance achieves a darker, more threatening quality in comparison to the illusory, magical quality of the dotwork flames.
Simple black flames fill in the empty space on this sleeve. Coupled with the dimensional barbed wire, these filler tattoos are both masterful and ominous.
Japanese cultural symbols are an irreplaceable aspect of tattoo culture. From images of Hokusai’s familiar waves to sakura petals, images from Japanese culture are all over the tattoo industry inside and outside of Japan. Though houju jewels such as these may not be as familiar as plant and animal elements, they hold a special significance in Buddhist lore. Houju jewels are said to grant wishes, and many Buddhist statues can be found with houju jewels in hand. These jewels are shaped like onions, and artistic depictions frequently illustrate them surrounded by flames. The fire encircling these jewels adds to the mystical and powerful qualities they possess.
Traditional tattoos are known for their bold lines, bright colors, and familiar imagery. This traditional tattoo incorporates each of those familiar elements in its depiction of a flower-adorned, burning heart. Each element of the design is simple, and the no-frills imagery makes for a tattoo that is a comforting throwback to vintage tattoo designs.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of PainfulPleasures.