for tattooed people, and those who want to be

Geometry of the skin


Head and shoulders portrait of a Māori man, hi...

Image via Wikipedia

Geometric designs are among the oldest tattoo patterns in the world. It was easy to create them with primitive tools (especially using the horribly painful technique of “sewing” a pigmented thread just under the skin to make the designs) and a surprising variety of patterns could be created with just a few simple shapes.

In modern times the tribal tattoo has brought the ancient geometric shapes back into fashion, even though it might be difficult to find an actual tribe out there with any of those designs.   🙂   One of the major advantages is that the design’s size can be easily changed to fit the amount of skin available–an arm band can wrap around perfectly, for example, or a bracelet or sleeve be made to fit as though they were clothing on the skin.

The geometric pattern can be made with solid colored shapes, or outlines, or anything in between.   It can be the same shape repeated, or mirrored, or a selection of harmonizing shapes.   It can be created in such a way that small mistakes are not noticeable, which would not be so easy to do with writing or a recognizable image.   Many tribal patterns today are done in solid black ink, but I have seen them applied in a rainbow of colors as well.

The down side to a geometric pattern is that if it is applied by a less talented artist, it can quickly look muddy or blurred.   If the ink is applied too deeply, the spaces between the elements can fill up and destroy the pattern.   If you plan to have a geometric or tribal tattoo done, be sure to check your artist’s portfolio for similar work.   Don’t rely on the selection of flash on the wall–anybody can put flash on a wall.   What’s important is how the flash translates to body art.   If you have a particular design in mind, be sure to bring a clear photo, drawing or printout of what you want, just so you and the artist understand what’s to be done.

Geometric designs are striking and attractive when done right, and their popularity is well deserved   I don’t have any geometric designs myself, but I have often contemplated a bold bracelet in bright colors.   Maybe this will be the year I’ll get it done.

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Author: infmom

I got my first tattoo when I was 46. I hope the people who read this blog don't have to wait that long. I love talking about body art.


  1. I have tattoos over half of my body and I think it’s so cool that they are so popular right now. Thanks for the great site!!

  2. Do you know where I can get a copy of the History Channels special “Ancient Ink?” I caught a bit of it but I’d like watch it all the way through.

  3. In addition to the balance of geometrical designs, I’d be interested to see a post about symmetry of tattoos and their location. For the longest time, I struggled with finding a central place (along my midline) for my tattoo. I finally had to go with my ribcage on the right side. Kind of strange, but now I’m really hungering to ‘balance’ my body by getting something done on my left side. Anyone else had this same ‘issue’?

    • That’s an excellent idea! I will work on that and see what I can come up with. I feel the same way you do, that there ought to be a balance, so that does provide extra incentive for me to get one more tattoo. 🙂

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