Try Fantasy Art as Your Tattoo Design Inspiration

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What are people going to tattoo on their bodies this year?

Many artists expect their customers to ask for designs on birthdates, nature and the outdoors, and faces of loved ones. One other popular design in 2021 is the spiritual tattoo, which could be a central element in your fantasy art ink.

What’s Fantasy Art?

A fantasy painting from Margaret Brundage turned into a cover for the May 1934 issue of “Weird Tales,” a fiction magazine. Image from Wikimedia Commons

You’ll know fantasy art when you see any of the following elements:

  • Ancient legends and myths
  • Magical or supernatural forces
  • Divine interventions (i.e., the spiritual) in modern day fantasies

This form of visual art can also cover futuristic concepts, which means you can use sci-fi art as a point of reference for your fantasy artwork. From extra-terrestrial to time travel, science fiction subjects take on a range of speculative ideas.

Fantasy artists will illustrate creatures, settings, themes or ideas that revolve around what’s magical or supernatural. Any artwork featuring dragons, fairies, wizards and other fantastical elements is fantasy art.

I read somewhere that fantastic art, another genre, isn’t fantasy art. Under fantastic art, you’ll find the bizarre, grotesque, whimsical or “out of this world.” Yes, that is confusing unless you think wizards and dragons are of this world. The best way to distinguish the two “fantastical” art genres is this: fantastic art, with its dada and surrealism styles, can be displayed in museums whereas fantasy art can be in digital animation, graphic novels or comic books, ‘zines and pulp fiction.

So to answer what you’ve been asking in your mind, if surrealism is fantasy art — it’s not. Surrealism is more Salvador Dali whereas fantasy is more Dave McKean.

Fantasy artworks have been snubbed by museums and fine art historians. It’s not widely listed as a movement the way others have been, like cubism, impressionism and surrealism. It’s not a subset of art you’re going to find on most art schools, but it is taught in some places as short-term courses or workshops.

Just because this form of creative work isn’t in some fancy gallery or studied in art history books (not yet anyway), doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of reverence. Fantasy art, from an exceptional artist, can be profound and blow your mind with its complexity and intricacy. For the deliciously dark (e.g., goth, horror or pagan art) fantastic artworks can also be absolutely nefarious, which always has visual appeal as a tattoo.

Fantasy Art Tattoo Ideas

Add a touch of the divine or spiritual on your fantasy art tattoo, like “Crimson Dreams” Image by AdrianR3d on Deviantart.com

The concept of your fantasy art tattoo isn’t just going to depend on what you’d enjoy looking at. You should also think about your threshold for sitting on the chair while the artist works on your back, chest or leg.

Of course, you’ll also want to think about what the image means to you; elaborate or simple tattoos all symbolize something in your life, mark an extraordinary or life changing experience, and even signify something sinister in your past.

Before you go to the tattoo shop, know the answers to the following:

  1. How unique do I want my tattoo to be?
  2. Will the tattoo have meaning, and if so what would it be?
  3. Do I really want a fantasy style tattoo or maybe a graffiti style is more my thing?
  4. What happens if I change my mind about the tattoo?
  5. Do I want a fast tattoo session?

Then look through your options:

Fantasy Character Art

Character art requires an expert hand, and they’re likely not to come in cheap. So you’ll want to choose your tattoo artist carefully. Most artists will showcase their works on social media, making it easier for you to pick. Do your research and make sure you’ve nailed the fantasy character art you want.

Image by Armandeo64 on Wikimedia Commons

Other characters to think about are wizards, characters from games or TV series.

Image by David Revoy / Blender Foundation on Wikimedia Commons
Image by Kathrin “Kitty” Polikeit on Wikimedia Commons

Fantasy Dragon

A dragon tattoo can be visually spectacular, even when done in black and gray. Think about how much more potent it can be if done in fantasy style, with intricate detail and a riot of colors. You could also get your tattoo artist to design one of the most famous dragons, like Kaleesi’s beloved winged beasts from “Game of Thrones,” Smaug from “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbitt,” Haku from “Spirited Away” or Shenron from “Dragon Ball.”

Image by David Revoy / Blender Foundation on Wikimedia Commons
Image by Caro Oliveira on Deviantart.com
Image by JdelNido on Deviantart.com

Fantasy Paintings

If you have a particular image in mind and don’t mind spending hours and a few more trips to the tattoo shop, choose fantasy paintings. With the inclusion of an out-of-this-world setting or a real scenario done in an outlandish style, your tattoo’s going to be hypnotic.

Image by Boxiness on Wikimedia Commons
Image from Der-Vert on Deviantart.com
Image by Dogbert579 on Wikimedia Commons
Image by Konstantin Korobov on Wikimedia Commons

Pop Culture for Other Fantasy Art Tattoo Ideas

Your fantasy art tattoo could be that of a known character from literary fiction, movies or even popular trading card games, like Egon the God of Death from “Magic: The Gathering” Image by JasonEngle on Deviantart.com

If you’re out of ideas still and can’t decide which artwork to use, why not look to pop culture for more ideas. You’ve got options from movies and comic books to animation and artwork.

You can pick characters or iconic scenes from “Star Wars,” “Game of Thrones,” or “Lord of the Rings.” You can also do anti-heroes or villains from comic books that have been turned into movies or TV series.

But before you tell your tattoo artist to start making the stencil or design on your skin, make sure you’re not going to change your mind about the ink. What you like today could be different from what you’re into years from now.

A tattoo as intricate as fantasy art takes a while to create. Although you could always get it lasered off if you’re not into it anymore, why waste money when you can take the time to decide right now. Never rush a tattoo, which is why it’s not advisable to walk into a shop when you’ve had one too many.

If you’re still undecided about which artwork to do for your fantasy-inspired tattoo, talk with your artist. Collaborate on a new idea, and you’re likely to cherish your original skin art better than if it were copied off of somewhere.

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