Indie Tattoo Ideas

Written by michael monet
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Indie Tattoo Ideas
Tribal tattoos are a popularised tradition unlike indie tattoos. (Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

The word indie when used in music, art, film and other forms of expression tells you the product in question is not affiliated with a major company, studio or corporation. Indie ideas require advanced levels of creativity to complete, as the creators of indie art typically have less money and resources at their disposal. Indie tattoos go beyond conventional or typical tattoo styles, such as the popularised Japanese tattoo tradition or Sailor Jerry traditional flash tattoos.

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Indie tattoo portraits come in different styles, but the point is to make the portrait personal and realistic. Unlike Sailor Jerry style flash tattoos, which often involve portraits of pin-up girls, indie portraits portray someone with special meaning to you. This could be anyone from your favourite musician to your grandmother. Use a real picture of this person for inspiration. Choose a tattoo artist who can achieve the fine detail of a face with the proper line, shading and colour techniques. Realistic portrait tattoos typically cost more than most styles of tattoos. Few artists are known to perform this style of tattooing with ease, so you may have to search and put in your appointment months in advance.

Line Drawings

Indie art is minimalist and handmade. Line drawings, in the tradition of children's books author Shel Silverstein, communicate the indie message and feel. Any person, animal or object can be translated into a line drawing. Take a picture of what you want to your tattoo artist and express that you would like a simple outline with some line detail -- just enough to clearly signify what the object is.


Animal tattoos are indie when they are done in an original fashion. Japanese tattoo, tribal tattoo and flash tattoo traditions have specific animals that represent certain ideas about life. In an indie tattoo of an animal, your tattoo means only whatever meaning you attach to it. To express an original meaning with your animal, tell your tattoo artist you would prefer the animal not be done in any of the above styles. Attempt to sketch the animal yourself, even if you can only do so roughly, in the way you would like it to appear. If you can't do that, have a skilled artist draw it for you, or collect a picture that closely resembles what you want it to look like for guidance.


Indie art is often inspired by other art forms. Tattooing text on your body is an indie idea because it extends beyond the original idea of what a tattoo is -- a picture, usually in colour, of an object, animal or person. Choose text from your favourite song, favourite poem or favourite novel. Alternatively, choose your favourite quote, tag line or rhyme from a personal memory. Most importantly, pick a font that matches with the idea and message your text conveys.

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