Negative space can be a very powerful tool in graphic design, paintings, photography and tattoos. Simply put, negative space is the “blank” space around an image.
This negative space can be used in tattoos to create unique images, or even mind bending optical illusions.
Most people are familiar with Rubin’s Vase- for many it’s the first optical illusion they’ve ever seen.
In this image, a simple drawing of a vase, the eye dances between seeing the vase, to two phases, then back to the vase again - a truly mind boggling experience!
Advertisers will often use negative space to make a print ad or TV commercial stand out from the pack- and tattoo artists can do the same thing with their art.
While many people simply draw what’s there, an image is infinitely more interesting when someone utilizes the space between what’s there and what isn’t there.
Negative space tattoos are one of the most popular tattoos today and they represent a real challenge to every tattoo artist.
As tattooing becomes a more acceptable and mainstream practice, artists are finding new ways to get creative and make their art stand out.
There are many intriguing trends in tattoo art today, from water color to embroidery effects.
Some artists even choose to go back to the art form’s roots and embrace old traditions, such as stick and poke.
One art style we’ve had our eye on lately is negative space tattooing.
Feeling positive about negative space? You should definitely take a look at some of your local artists’ portfolios.
While it’s true that negative space is a “first day of art school” subject, not every tattoo artist utilizes negative space in their tattoos as mystically or effectively as other artists.
For some inspo, let’s take a look at some of the best in the game.
This Milan based artist is known for her intricate, old world designs and her use of negative space to create unseen characters in her tattoos.
Many of her negative space tattoos are romantic, featuring lovers embracing, but she has also created the sweet image of a child being lovingly embraced by an invisible figure.
If you love tattoos that are ornate, colorful and lively without being cartoonish, Lucrezia Urtis is the negative space tattoo artist for you.
What could be better than a trip to Milan? A tattoo by a professional Milan based artist to remember your trip by.
European vacation not in the cards for you? No trouble at all!
Josh Stephens creates dazzling tattoos, usually in black and grey.
He doesn’t always capitalize on negative space in his art, but he definitely knows what he’s doing.
He is quite skilled at capturing the emotion in a human face or other living creature, but sometimes he is simply experimenting with interesting shapes.
Either way, his striking and moody aesthetic shines through.
Josh is based in Richmond, Virginia and will be your perfect tattoo match made in heaven if you’re looking for something beautiful without being too cheerful.
His lines are bold, giving his art a more masculine spirit, even when he is drawing a graceful butterfly.
Not a linear thinker? Looking for something more abstract? Roman Melnikov, a Moscow based artist, is often travelling the world to bestow his unique style of negative space tattoo art on those lucky enough to get an appointment with him.
Roman uses a mix of soft black and grey lines to create the illusion of smoke crawling across the skin.
Sometimes he uses his negative space to create form and structure, other times he lets everything stay ethereal and abstract.
If you’re one of those people who would love to get a tattoo, but aren’t sure what kind of image you can commit to, this is your artist.
Looking for a mix between the ornate romanticism of Lucrezia Urtis and the abstract sex appeal of Roman’s smokey designs? Look no further than:
Victor works in Brooklyn, but his inspiration comes from the Pacific Ocean.
His Indonesian, Polynesian, and Japanese influences are apparent in his use of thick bold lines to create truly powerful images.
His negative space tattoos can range from plant life to geometrical, almost tile-like designs.
While his images can be ornate, Victor works mainly with black ink alone, so his final products have a beautiful balance between soft feminine imagery and bold masculine lines.
The upkeep on a negative space tattoo will be the same as the upkeep for any tattoo.
The one upside over other tattoo styles is that many negative space tattoo designs use black or a lot of darker colors.
While it is still important to stay out of the sun and protect your tattoo after healing, the dark colors are more resistant to fading, meaning your negative space tattoo may look sharp longer than lighter designs out there.
To fully understand the countless versions of the negative space tattoo and to become more familiar with it, take a look at our photo gallery and get inspired!
Negative space is a beautiful, creative way to express yourself without having a tattoo that looks like everyone else’s.
Also, because of negative space’s effect on the mind, you’ll enjoy staring at your new design for hours!
What's your favourite negative space tattoo? Tell us here!