Decades ago, when Piquer used to sing ‘Look at my tattooed arm / With this woman’s name / It’s the memory of a past / That will never come back’, it was strange to see people with tattoos. Almost as rare as it is now to find someone who has not engraved an animal, a letter, a heart or an arrow in some corner of their epidermis (and if not, look this summer at the beach). According to the National Union of Professional Tattooists and Banders, in 1996 there were about 100 studios in our country; today they are around 2,000. The same way, followers have multiplied. Although there are no official figures, a estimated calculation from data of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology points to that one in three Spaniards between the ages of 18 and 35 has a tattoo.
The eagerness to decorate the skin with ink He does nothing, then, but take a run, establishing itself as one of the most important urban fashion trends of this century. “Since 2000, many barriers and prejudices have been broken, and the tattoo looks like an art. Art can be captured in a painting, a photo or a body, which is much more complicated. And now they are doing real wonders. It is incredible how the industry in general has evolved, not just the artists, most of whom come from Fine Arts or the world of graffiti; also the tools they work with,” says Laura Cubero, organizer of the Barcelona Tattoo Expo, one of the largest conventions in Europe, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary this October; in addition to the BAUM Fest (on urban art) and the Only Tattoo -also in the Catalan capital-, as well as other salons in Asturias, Pamplona…
“During this century the tattoo has been socialized in Spain Cubero points out. Soccer players, actors and singers they started tattooing themselves making it looked cool. Before, people who got tattoos even hid it”. The expert recalls that in 96, some 2,000 people and 50 tattoo artists went to the Cotxeres de Sants for the first Barcelona Tatto Expo. In the pre-pandemic room there were 18,000 fans and 300 tattoo artist stands And it is that “Spain ranks sixth in the world with tattooed people and has a brutal community of tattoo artists, present at all the most important conventions, such as those in London, Paris, the US or Mexico”Cubero details.
Spain ranks sixth in the world for tattooed people
Laura Cubero, organizer of the Barcelona Tattoo Expo
Barcelona, the mecca
“The level of tattoo artists in Barcelona is impressive. You can literally choose from dozens of great artists who have mastery of their styles and make outstanding pieces almost every day. With this I am not saying that the same thing does not happen in other cities since, for example, in Madrid there is also a high level, but it is that the Barcelona is a gap”, thinks Rene Pontethe Galician content creator with a passion for tattoos who triumphs from Finland under the alias of Rene ZZ.
More than a million subscribers on YouTube and almost 600,000 on Instagram follow his tattooing process down to the last centimeter. “I started almost 13 years ago with a ‘new school’ manga because I loved color and I didn’t know that ‘blackwork’ could look so good. During the four years I lived in Barcelona I discovered ‘quality blackwork and I decided to follow that path”, says the ‘influencer’, who every two months he returns to the Catalan capital for Jotatattooer to continue decorating him with the needle (one of his last works is the impressive ‘blackout’ with which an arm has been covered in opaque black). “Black is a safe bet and black ink is reliable for all skin types because unlike other pigments it doesn’t usually give surprises over time,” she insists.
Like fashion in clothing, the ‘tattoo’ also experiences a cyclical system of trends. Rene ZZ gives the tribal example: “The oldest style in history was recovered at the beginning of the century but ended up being repudiated a few years later; but it has resurfaced with more brilliance since 2020.” The ‘youtuber’ also points out another of the recent trends: “In the last decade, there has been an increase in the desire to tattoo visible areas. At first it was the hands and the neck, now you can see 16-year-olds that the first thing they get tattooed is their faces. By doing extreme things they are doing real damage”the Mint.
A serious studio is never going to make you a tattoo on the palm of your hand like the one Rosalía has done with ‘Motomami’
Jose Bandera, realistic tattoo artist
In this way, Jose Bandera, one of the most sought-after realistic tattoo artists in Barcelona, with clients who come to see him from the US and China, and a waiting list of more than half a year, underlines the importance of putting yourself in the hands of a good professional. “A serious study, for example, is never going to make a tattoo on the palm of your hand like the one that has been done Rosalía with the letters of ‘Motomami’ inside her fingers. In the palm of the hands and feet [donde la artista lleva una doble ‘R’ también], the tattoo will go away soon, because it is the area where we are constantly changing the skin. If many people copy it, they will see that it is a mistake,” says the expert.
@rosalia ♬ CAKE – ROSALÍA
Both Rene ZZ and Cubero agree that among the twenty styles what’s up the most successful now are, “at the level of a collector or a lover of large tattoos”, realism, traditional American, ‘blackwork’, with all its aspects, and the ‘new school’. And between the “average or more sporadic client we find a lot of minimalism and ornamental motifs”. It is difficult to talk about prices, because it will depend on the artist’s price, but normally a minimum price is between 60 and 80 euros and a session of about 3 or 4 hours would be between 300 and 400 euros. 70% of clients who come to a studio do so attracted from Instagram, the great catalyst for the ‘boom’ that the tattoo world is experiencing.
A minimum price is between 60 and 80 euros and a session of about 3 or 4 hours would be between 300 and 400 euros.
Laura Cubero, organizer of Barcelona Tattoo Expo
These are the 6 most demanded styles 👇
This type of tattoo is inspired by the art movement of realism that emerged as a counterpoint to romanticism in France since 1850. As its name indicates, faithfully captures an image, be it a reference photo or a natural image. Is about spectacular piecesranging from the typical portraits of relatives or celebrities, animals such as dogs and wolves.
Within realism there are several substylesAs the hyperrealismheir to photorealism, and in which more types of needles are used (for shading, outlining, filling and coloring). They are also the microrealism, the same as the previous one but in a small format (and with smaller hands); and the 3d tattooswhich are projected on the skin in such a way that their perspective and shadows deceive the eye, giving the sensation of relief.
reproduce decorative designs such as mandalas, compass roses, borders… The ornamental tattoo becomes a variation/evolution of geometric and abstract. Many of them, such as the ‘mehndi’are inspired by traditional henna tattoos from cultures such as Arabic and Hindu.
What substyles have the ‘dotwork’ or pointillism, which has its origin in the French avant-gardes of the late nineteenth century. For many it is a technique rather than a style. And the geometric, which are the ‘tattoos’ that prioritize symmetry and balance as a symbol of life and nature. They are characterized by precise and repetitive lines.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” said Da Vinci. And that is the basis of the style also known as ‘fineline’: pure, subtle, fine and synthetic lines (in black ink) that form very simple and small figures like little boats, arrows, compass roses, small slogans, symbols such as runes, constellations, infinities or heartsfor example.
It is a type of tattoo that he now has a lot of demandespecially, between the client who startsand that gives that little drawing a meaning almost mystical. They are usually chosen in visible areas, hands, arms, neck… and many times they are done in pairs.
They are all those large ‘tattoos’ made only with black ink. With this color you can create lines and all kinds of effects, to achieve drawings that can go from the figurative to the abstract, especially enhancing the contrasts. Although has its origins in the Maori and Polynesian tribesIt is a fairly modern technique, emerged a decade agoas a consequence of the natural evolution of the tattoo, the perfection of the line and the gradients with texturesdots, or hatches.
Neither does it have a characteristic theme nor does it seek a high level of realism. Their designs are symbolic, geometric, religious, mystical, abstractrepresentations of contemporary illustrations with aesthetics close to comics and even traditional figures mixed with more modern visual arts.
Traditional (American or ‘old school’)
The tattoo traditional American was born through the contact of the USA and Japan at the end of the 19th century, when sailors, pirates and soldiers learned about the traditional Japanese tattoo and its techniques. Since the 20th century it has spread from American shores, to circuses and ports, from Japan to Hawaii, from the mafias to the artists, prostitutes and sailors; these were his first clients. During World War II he acquired patriotic motives.
These tattoos are still in high demand today. delimited with pure, solid and simple black lines. The line is usually thick and the drawings are almost always colored with ocher, red and green. The topics: ‘pin ups’, mermaids, cowboys, pirates, anchors, skulls, ‘cowboys’, roses, hearts, ‘mother’s love’, eagles, tigers…
Neotraditional (‘neotradi’ or ‘new school’)
Is a evolution of the traditionalbut with sharper lines and very vivid colorsa very wide palette, but which are applied throughout the work creating shadows, gradients and textures (like the ‘famous girl with a tiger on her head’). This gives them a lot of elegance and dimensionality.
This style, of which Barcelona is a mecca, goes one step further by increasing complexity. It plays a lot with flowers and background ornamentsand among its topics stand out the faces, cats, hearts and daggers.
Of course, there are many more styles where to choose. Watch this video where Rene ZZ explains them 👇: