Black and Grey tattoos are timeless and versatile, lending themselves to almost every style of tattooing when executed well.
Today, an increasingly popular style of tattoo art is called black and gray. Black and gray used to be referred to as joint-style or prison-style, because of its roots in penal institutions, where inmates made homemade machines from ballpoint pens, guitar strings, needles, and parts from old boom boxes. The machines had one needle. No color ink was available in lock up, so the ink was black. But if you watered it down, it turned gray.
These classic tattoo’s will age better over time and may be more appropriate as your personality and style changes. Many people prefer black and grey tattoos since they are more subtle, causing the content itself to stand out.
Black and Grey Tattoo’s:
Cost less money.
Are completed in half the time.
Have less damage from the sun because even if they fade the contrast will still be clear.
Create a strong contrast that is easy to see on darker skin tones.
They are neutral and won’t compete with colors from your clothing.
Black and grey tattoos can be vivid and dynamic but require a skilled artists to create the illusion of a three dimensional image using tone, texture, shape, composition and weight. An artists will also use space to make some images look close and others far away. The difference between highly skilled artist and one that is learning will be transparent in their ability to create a multi-dimensional image using only black and grey ink.
The thing is, executing a black and grey tattoo well can be pretty hard (to put it lightly). How many times have I finished a black and grey, been super happy with the result (or so I'd have myself think in the moment) only to have my self-esteem completely crushed after zooming in to inspect all of the details on my phone later that night while trying to narrow down 50 shots to one post-worthy photograph, ultimately deciding I should just burn my phone and quit tattooing? The truth is, way too many times. I'd wrap up a grueling piece to which I spent hours on and go home to pick it apart to the point that all I was able to see in the piece were mag marks or a lack of contrast when I intended for it to be striking and buttery smooth. The worst was seeing the healed piece later, and finding that the grey that I used as my dark tone healed out to be almost identical to my mid tone, which was way too close to my light tone, making everything look washed out and just..so grey.