Ornamental Tattoo

Ornamental Tattoos: Embroidery of Skin with Symbolic and Artistic Beauty

We all love a good story, especially when it’s etched on our skin. So, let's dive into the story of ornamental tattoos: a visual tale told in ink that draws upon geometric shapes, intricate mandala designs, and an array of cultural influences. This art form isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s a deeply spiritual and holistic experience that has roots reaching far back into the past.

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What is Ornamental Tattoo?

At its core, an ornamental tattoo can be likened to body-bound jewelry; it’s a form of body art that accentuates the human form through patterns, shapes, and intricate designs. Ornamental tattoo designs don't necessarily depict a recognizable object or image; instead, they're about the flow and symmetry of design, the juxtaposition of shapes, and the harmony of lines. It's not unlike admiring a beautifully designed bracelet or a well-crafted necklace; the charm lies in the complexity and finesse of the design.

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Geometric Tattoos: A Substyle of Ornamental Tattoo

Now, you might be wondering, where do geometric tattoos fit into this picture? Simply put, geometric tattoos are a style of ornamental tattooing. The geometric aspect is about precision, balance, and the thoughtful repetition of shapes and lines. Picture a field of equilateral triangles spreading across a forearm, a honeycomb pattern on a shoulder, or the concentric circles and polygons of a beautifully rendered geometric pattern on a back. This is where mathematics meets aesthetics, and the results are stunning.

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The Allure of Mandala Tattoos

Mandala tattoos are another form of ornamental tattooing that's deeply tied to spirituality. A mandala, a Sanskrit word for 'circle,' is a geometric configuration of symbols prevalent in Hinduism and Buddhism. It’s a cosmic diagram that represents the universe's wholeness and unity. With their intricate designs and repetitive patterns radiating out from a central point, mandala tattoos can be hypnotic and profoundly meaningful. They are a beautiful way to express concepts like eternity, balance, and unity on the canvas of the human body.

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The History and Roots of Ornamental Tattooing

Delving deeper into the historical tapestry of ornamental tattoos, it's evident that these intricate designs have been an integral part of human self-expression for thousands of years, weaving threads across cultures and continents.

In Polynesia, for instance, each tribe had its own unique tattoo traditions, often marking rites of passage or signifying social status. The Maori people of New Zealand took this art form to an entirely different level with their traditional Ta Moko face tattoos. These ornate patterns told a person's ancestry, social status, and accomplishments, etching their life story onto their skin. Each line, spiral, and mark was imbued with meaning, making the Maori tattoos one of the most profound examples of ornamental tattooing.

In Africa, the tribes of the Berber and Bedouin people also practiced ornamental tattooing. They used symbols and geometric patterns for protection, fertility, and to honor their tribes and ancestors. For them, tattoos were not only adornments but also spiritual talismans.

Ornamental tattooing was also prevalent among the ancient Celts. The Celtic knotwork and spirals that many of us are familiar with today are derived from their age-old designs. These intricate patterns often symbolized the interconnection of life and the eternal flow of time.

The practice of ornamental tattooing flourished in the East as well. In India and Southeast Asia, the tradition of Mehndi or henna painting, though temporary, shared similar characteristics with ornamental tattoos. Intricate motifs inspired by nature and geometry were applied onto the skin, often as part of wedding ceremonies or religious festivals.

The roots of ornamental tattooing, however, are not confined to the past. In contemporary times, several influential artists have worked towards bringing this art form into mainstream attention.

Alex Binnie, a renowned tattoo artist based in the UK, is known for his amalgamation of traditional and tribal designs with modern aesthetics. Thomas Hooper, famous for his distinct style of intricate, swirling patterns, has carved a niche in ornamental and geometric tattooing. Roxx, a San Francisco-based artist, has elevated the style with her dynamic, 2Spirit-inspired tattoos that draw on nature, geometry, and tribal visuals.

These artists, along with countless others, continue to shape the field of ornamental tattooing, building upon the deep foundations laid by diverse cultures throughout history, creating pieces that are as meaningful as they are mesmerizing. It is through their creativity and skill that the narrative of ornamental tattoos continues to evolve, connecting the threads of the past with the ink of the future.

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A Holistic and Spiritual Experience

Ornamental tattoos aren't just about aesthetics; they offer a holistic and spiritual tattooing experience. They can serve as a form of meditation or even a spiritual journey, both for the person getting the tattoo and the artist. The symmetry and repetition in ornamental tattooing require concentration and precision, creating a deep sense of focus and presence in the moment.

The holistic experience of getting an ornamental tattoo unfolds on multiple levels: physical, emotional, spiritual, and even social. Here's how it comes together:

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Tattooing, by its very nature, is a physical experience. It involves the application of ink into the skin, creating a permanent design. The process can be painful, but many people find the experience grounding and real. There's an understanding of the limits and resilience of your body that unfolds in the artist's chair.


The act of choosing a design, placing it on your body, and going through the process of having it inked can be a significant emotional journey. It might symbolize a rite of passage, a personal transformation, or a tribute to a loved one. It's a commitment that speaks volumes about the wearer's identity and emotional state.


Ornamental tattoos often draw from sacred geometrical patterns and spiritual symbols. This includes mandala tattoos, which depict a spiritual universe, and other geometric shapes, which have been used in spiritual practices worldwide. The tattooing process can become a meditation, both for the artist and the recipient, creating a connection to something greater than oneself.


Ornamental tattoos, being highly visible, play a role in social interactions. They can start conversations, signal membership to a particular group, or convey personal beliefs and values. They're a non-verbal communication that creates a sense of belonging or distinction within a community.


Choosing an ornamental tattoo requires contemplation and reflection, stimulating mental processes. Living with a tattoo, observing its change over time, is also a reminder of one's life journey and personal growth.

Thus, ornamental tattoos engage the whole person, not just their skin. They interweave the physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and mental aspects of our being, creating a holistic experience that is more profound than the sum of its parts. This is what makes the journey of getting an ornamental tattoo such a unique, meaningful, and transformative experience.

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The Skills Needed for an Ornamental Tattoo Artist

Ornamental tattooing indeed requires a unique skill set, blending artistic talent, technical prowess, and a deep understanding of the human canvas. Here's an elaboration of the various skills needed:

Artistic Skill

Just like a painter with a brush, a tattoo artist needs to have a strong artistic sense. This includes understanding design elements such as balance, proportion, color theory, and composition. They should also be adept at creating a sense of depth and three-dimensionality on a flat surface, ensuring the tattoo doesn't look flat or one-dimensional.

Precision and Detail

Ornamental designs are often complex and intricate. The artist must have a steady hand to create clean, precise lines, and be able to maintain consistency in repetitive patterns. They also need a keen eye for detail, as ornamental tattoos often involve tiny elements that can significantly impact the overall design if not executed correctly.

Understanding of Geometry

A deep understanding of geometry is critical in ornamental tattooing. The artist needs to comprehend how shapes and patterns can fit together and flow across the body's contours. They need to be able to visualize and execute symmetrical designs, often freehand, which requires spatial awareness and mathematical precision.

Knowledge of Human Anatomy

A good ornamental tattoo artist will have a strong understanding of human anatomy. They need to know how the skin stretches and moves, how the design will wrap around limbs, or spread across the body's planes. They must consider the underlying muscles and bones, ensuring the design moves naturally with the body.

Adaptability and Creativity

Even with a pre-determined design, the artist must adapt it to the client's unique body shape and personal preference. Every person's body is different, and what works on one may not work on another. The artist must be creative in adjusting the design to make it unique and personal to each client.

Communication Skills

The artist must be able to communicate effectively with the client. They need to understand the client's ideas and expectations, provide guidance, and ensure the client is comfortable throughout the process. They must also be able to explain aftercare procedures to ensure the tattoo heals properly.

Hygiene Knowledge

A responsible tattoo artist must have a thorough understanding of hygiene and safety practices to prevent infection and ensure the client's health.

Together, these skills form the foundation for a talented ornamental tattoo artist. It's a demanding field, requiring ongoing learning and practice, but the outcome – beautiful, meaningful body art – makes it a truly rewarding craft.

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Choosing Your Tattoo Artist

When it comes to selecting a tattoo artist, it's crucial to do your research. Look for an artist who specializes in ornamental tattooing, and don't hesitate to scrutinize their portfolio. Check reviews and testimonials. Consider not only the quality of their work but also their safety and hygiene practices. Remember, this is a piece of art that will be with you forever. Choose wisely.

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The Best Place for Ornamental Tattoos

Lastly, where should you get an ornamental tattoo? While this is highly subjective and depends on personal preference and pain tolerance, some popular locations include the back, which provides a large canvas for intricate designs; the arms or legs, ideal for designs that can wrap around like a sleeve or a band; and the shoulder or chest, where designs can spread out in intriguing ways. Remember, the body is a living canvas, and the best spot for your tattoo is where you believe it will shine the most.

In conclusion, ornamental tattoos are more than ink on skin. They are a beautiful blend of art, spirituality, and individuality. Whether through geometric tattoos' precise beauty or mandala designs' spiritual symmetry, ornamental tattooing allows us to express our inner selves in the most profound of ways. So, whether you're already a tattoo enthusiast or considering your first piece, it's time to explore the captivating world of ornamental tattoos.

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Please take a peek at our Tattoo Gallery or Pinterest board! You're welcome to drop by and chat with one of our skilled artists for a free consultation in Dublin.

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