“Go big or go home” quite literally applies to the man who opts not for a small, innocuous tattoo but a full-body armor of ink.
If tattoos typically tell one’s life story in fragments and stand-alone symbols, why not ink it in epic proportions?
There are a number of full arm, leg, chest, and back tattoo designs that paint an unforgettable image. From intricate tribal emblems to geometric schemes, large-scale imagery to sprawling cinematic scenes, there is truly no shortage of inspiration. The question is, how bold are you as the scribe of your own moving history? Are you willing to tell your tale with confidence and zero apologies, using the canvas of your body and tattoo artist’s needle as your weapons of choice?
A tattoo of monumental proportions may not be for the physically faint of heart and socially self-conscious, but for the men who dare to dream big there is no greater impression to make.
Whether you wish to capture a moment that can only be revealed in wide scale, or believe there is a greater pattern to be worn beyond mere skin, a full tattoo turns man into walking art, and lets the world know he holds nothing back.
1. Large sleeve tattoos
There’s a tremendous variety of sleeve tattoos on display and all of them show fantastic technical traits separating them from more run of the mill work. Some opt for traditional black and gray shading with a focus on heavy detailed sketching and gray scale fill, while others are spare but utilize heavy black ink, clean lines and flowing imagery that contrast with negative space. Others still, use painstaking dotwork to shade, or contrast the main focal point with alternative fill or a feature ‘stick out’ color. All of these tattoos are portfolio worthy highlight pieces.
2. Full Back Tattoos
Wow! If you’re looking for a perfect cross section of big tattoos to influence your choice in a full back piece, these examples are all you need. They’re tremendous, utilizing the huge canvas available to make genuine pieces of skin art. Some of these opt for a large focus image – such as the Chinese warrior’s, head and face – while others, such as the intricately etched geometric based back tattoo, aim to build a piece complementing a a variety of technical applications. I think my favorite is the amazing whale tattoo matching realism with a vibrant kaleidoscope of colors and detail.
3. Irezumi inspired large tattoos
The word Irezumi means to insert ink in Japanese. They were taboo for so long due to the connection with the Yakuza underworld, and remain frowned upon in much of the conservative Japanese culture, Irezumi have long been at the vanguard of shaping modern tattoo ideology and application. The examples above show why by fashioning superb big tattoos with clean line usage, compact yet vivid color palettes, and symbolic images central to mythology and folklore.
4. Pop culture sleeve tattoos
A totally killer collection of pop culture sleeve tattoos. As they are in the film and television world superheroes are booming as a style of body art and self expression. The pieces above are powerful depictions of the cartoon style with great use of color and action. The film tattoos also rock out – I love the replication of movie characters in the style of ink which most suits them – they use more black ink, and traditional fill techniques to build each big tattoo with nuance and realism.
5. Large skull tattoos
I’m a sucker for skull tattoos. Big, small, detailed or spare, unless they’re etched with a lack of skill or terrible awareness there’s not many I dislike. These are the cream of the crop, large images either threaded in to a wider piece or the focal point entirely. These skulls are emblematic of how to use color, shade, and line technique in fashioning supremely effective body art.
6. Black and gray chest tattoos
This group of black and gray tattoos veer from the traditional to absolutely bad ass individual depictions. There is an epic, versatile range of techniques on show such as: geometric patterning contrasting black ink and negative space, classical gray scale shading to build stone effects, or even the epic flow of complementary line and shade in Chicano style body art.
7. Huge animal tattoos
Firstly, that deconstructed cat tattoo could be the weirdest tattoo i’ve seen. It’s fascinating in the level of skill and so innovative. Most of these tattoos are centered on the realism of each beast, but augmented by unbelievable geometric patterns, people, and the whole gamut of technical applications and spatial perspectives.
8. Large Neo Classical Tattoos
These big tattoos are like museum exhibitions on skin. Love how the Greek classical style balances clean, crisp detail with hectic negative space to fashion beautiful stone faces and monuments. They manage the difficult feat of being able to look simple, while being elaborately put together with skill, artistry, and clarity. I love how there are a variety of smaller techniques used in each major creation, with light line and shade featuring often when layering the old school concepts.
9. Getting big and funky
These big tattoos go for bold, unique styles. They’re either placed unusually or opt to go over the top with color and imagery, and it works to a fantastic degree. The 3D piece in particular pops off the subject’s chest, mixing the wonderful purple alternative fill with vivid blue, then contrasting against the tremendous depth of the masterful hexagon.
10. Large religious tattoos
A tremendous group of big tattoos focusing on faith. They utilize symbolic ink – prayers hands, the Eye of Providence, crosses and iconography – to fashion a versatile array of body art, mainly in traditional shades of black and gray. The middle chest tattoo with the amazing white patterned collar and pulsating cross is an almost flawless example of meshing religious themes with body ink bombast to make an amazing piece.
Need to see more tattoos based on themes in this article? Click on the links below to learn more.