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Current Tattoo Trends

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Machine pistol Tattoo by John Cool

Gangsta Tattoos

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Thug Life Tattoo Letters

Nothing symbolizes gang members' commitment to their gangs more forcefully than the gang tattoo.

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Only God Can Judge Me

Only God can judge me, a very large custom lettered saying

These symbols proclaim the individual's allegiance to the group in a way that is both permanent and deeply personal - being written on the body itself.

Tattoos have long been a means of identifying oneself with a group or culture. Gangs were one of the first groups to use tattoos as a means of denoting identity and affinity, but groups as diverse as the military, sports teams, and even the popular Rappers and band members have used matching tattoos as a visible sign of the members' bond with one another.

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Large back Old English Lettering Tattoo of a name

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Pride Old English letter Tattoo design

In an era where it’s cool to be bad, tattoos in the Gangster or Prison category have gained massive amounts of popularity.  Tattooing on those who classify themselves as gangster is a common theme.

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Unbroken Old English Tattoo

Guys, who are known for being tough, like gang members, consider the Gangster tattoo symbolic of strength.  Tattoos among this crowd are also used to represent their bond with one another to the world.

 Because those living this gangster lifestyle usually have closer ties with the members of the gang than they do with their own family, these gangster style tattoos can be the representation of their devotion to the group.  The Tattoo then becomes the method by which they show their solidarity to one another.

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Old English Letter Familia Stomach Tattoo

But while society has often imposed tattoos in order to identify the tattooed as criminals, many people have also embraced these stigmatizing marks. Being an outlaw can be a source of pride as well as shame. Gang members in particular take pride in branding themselves as outside of the boundaries of conventional society.

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Only god can judge me Tattoo Letters

GANGSTA STYLE Old English Letters

Tattoos are also used to express gang members' often fatalist philosophy of life.

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Gangsta Style Tattoos are often done in black and gray style and often depict firearms, bullets, secret letters and numbers, old English letters and fancy elaborate script letters and names, names of hometowns, zip codes, neighborhoods, street names and numbers, clowns, clocks, tombstones, cell bars, crosses, phrases such as “my vida loca”

Tattooing of deceased friends names, dogs, diamonds, women, dead presidents, money, power, respect, tears, smile now cry later, cash rules. mob, rip, ballers only, dice, cards, death is certain life is not, crowns, aztec designs, grenades, jesus, saints, smile now cry later.

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Gang tattoos  used by gang members  show loyalty and membership in a specific gang. They also reflect the gang member's life choices and gang-related accomplishments, like their specialty areas and skills, various accomplishments and even convictions. Gang tattoos are not random but rather they can be considered a sort of a secret code, which is  usually only understood by the members of the specific gang. While tattoos are becoming increasingly popular with non-gang members, gang tattoos are considered by the wearer of the Tattoo to be badges of honor.

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Wild at Heart Custom Tattoo letters by John Cool

Today the role of tattoos is now facing a different kind of challenge: the adoption of tattoos as a standard accessory by large portions of mainstream society. True, few middle-class rebels have gone so far as to get facial tattoos, or tattoos on their hands-practices long common amongst gang members. But although gang members try to use tattoos to separate themselves from mainstream society, the effect that gang tattoos have had on the hipper strata of the middle class is undeniable. Teenagers who may have no idea of these symbols' original meaning are now wearing tattoos that were originally worn by gang members as badges of honor.

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My Vida Loca Tattoo

click to DOWNLOAD    HUGE collection of    Old English letter  SETS

   Large Old English Letter Style Name On Back Tattoo

Gangsta style tattoos popularized by rappers are often done in a black and gray style and depict firearms, bullets, secret letters and numbers, in old English or gothic script. It is common to have the name of the person tattooed on the back of the neck or have a motto tattooed on the chest.

Large Old English letters Back Love & Hate

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Angelic Angels will have your back

Peal your eyeballs away from this and

 Have John Cool create your own custom font

The next thing you want to think about is the font you are going to use for the Tattoo lettering. The most common ones that are used are the old English font and script lettering. However, since these look great, try to keep away from it being too common. You want yours to be yours alone.

 This way no one else will have it and no one else will ever have it. Look at our design store to buy our custom Tattoo Letters

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Praying hands Tattoo


If you decide to get a Tattoo, it is very important to consider the design carefully. Do your research to ensure that the tattoo you want isn't gang related. You can also check with your Tattoo artist, who is likely to be knowledgeable about gang tattoos. Some gangs consider it disrespectful or insulting when an outsider wears a tattoo of a symbol belonging to their group and may retaliate.

Old English Letter Irish Pride Tattoo

Tattoos lettering can be a label on an image that you’ve tattooed on your body.  You might have it inked in below the graphic design you’ve chosen, or maybe as a banner across the design.  It can also stand on its own as a tattoo, without any image.  When you choose your lettering style, you are showing off your style, your strength, or even your loyalty.

Lettering on its own, without an image, is powerful.  It succeeds in capturing people’s attention to get a real look at what your message is.  You can just use initials to abbreviate your cause or message; this was the original form of tattoos lettering.  Or you can go wild and tattoo long sections of text on your body-remember Cady in “Cape Fear” with his ominous Bible verses.  Either way, you’re bound to make an impact.

What do you want your tattoo to say?   Most people use this form of art-skin art-to show that they belong to a special group.  Often it’s used to pledge love.  Many people use tattooing to demonstrate their belief in a religion or show that they’ve achieved a cultural rite of passage.   Yet others use it to declare their mystical roots.  Or you can choose a line from a poem, the passage from a book, the logo of a favorite product.



Cars, wrenches, sparkplugs, rods, customs,gears, pistons, engines, flame job, pinstriped, Betty, you name it, if its hotrod its Kool Kitty

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Harley Davidson Tattoos

If you have one - You got one

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My article and picture in Harley Davidson 100 year Anniversary Book

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Buy & Download unique custom Tattoo designs in our online store

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Black And Grey

The tattoo is done in shades of black and gray only. This style originated in the prisons of North America, due to the prisoner's difficulty in obtaining colored ink. When several tattooists, e.g. California's Jack Rudy and Good Time Charlie Cartwright, saw the work they realized that there was great artistic potential in adapting it for use in tattoo shops outside of the prisons. They developed the refined, detailed style that has become popular these days.

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Traditional style refers to the Western or American tattoo: arranging scrolls of words amongst decorative vignettes, flowers, hearts and animals. The style was first developed to accommodate busy shops of the 40s and 50s near military bases (it is a quick way to tattoo) and the limited color palette then available. This type of tattoo is very stylized, quite two dimensional, and often executed with little regard for art. The lines tend to be thick and bold, the colors are rarely shaded or life-like, and the images tend towards iconic, cartoon-like, and little effort made to make things look realistic. Common design elements include hearts, anchors, birds, panthers, simple flowers (roses in particular), and names.

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New York

"The New York Style" of tattooing is known for its direct, no nonsense aesthetic. Influenced by Augustus "Cap" Coleman, The New York Style has historically exhibited a bold outline and bright, bold colors.

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A style popularized by illustrator H. R. Giger, the designer of the creature from the Alien movies. Bio-mechanical work usually involves flesh intertwined with machines.

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Delicate outlines, often highly detailed. The success of the finished tattoo depends a great deal on the artist's use of negative space, and his or her refraining from adding yet more detail. An overly detailed fineline tattoo, or one that was not carefully planned out, may dissolve into mush after a few years. Fine line tries to reproduce an effect similar to looking at a drawing or painting on the skin. This type of tattooing falls into the categories "color work" and "black and grey". The desired effect is that of the skin being just another type of canvas or medium for the artist.


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Bold, black, silhouette style designs. Most of this work is based on ancient tattoo designs of the South Pacific Islands. These designs, more so where they are strongly based on traditional forms, are usually abstract. But this is not always the case, as tattooist in the west have modified the traditional designs. The easiest way to characterize tribal style blackwork is that it consists of a combination of discrete design elements, each of which is self contained, abstract, and without shading. These elements are grouped which may or may not have a separate specific meaning.

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Photographic quality work, usually portraits or nature scenes. Images taken from photos, best done by someone who can render realistic photographic images. Usually done in black and grey ink. The danger with finely stippled realistic tattoo work is the same danger inherent in all tattoos. The pigment 'bleeds' by osmosis, spreading under the skin, which can turn a once finelined tattoo into a dark, fuzzy blotch over a couple of years and finelined work is that which suffers most, quality-wise.

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Body-Art tattooing refers to tattoo work based on Body-Art styles of art and design. Scroll-work in particular, Body-Art knots, and traditional design elements such as griffins and other stylized mythological creatures, arm bands utilizing triskaleons or interweaving knot-work designs, and the Body-Art cross and circle are motifs representative of this category. These are much harder for artists to do, and is best done by someone who specializes in it. Also usually done in just black ink.

Skin&Ink Tattoo magazine article about John Cool's Body-Art Tattoos

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Click for Body-Art Tattoos Photo Gallery

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Original work designed by the bearer, either on his/her own or together with the tattooist. Custom designs are prevalent among people looking for a tattoo which fits their personality, set of beliefs or is chosen to mark a special event in their lives. The design itself can be widely varying, depending on taste, budget and attitude of the bearer.

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This style of tattooing is more concerned with approach than subject matter. It utilizes the entire body as canvas, rather than the western approach of adding a tattoo here and there. The Oriental style usually incorporates swirling patterns and figures from eastern mythology into the designs.

This style is characterized by flowers with symbolic value (particularly chrysanthemums), fish (again with symbolic value), such as carp, the familiar dragon imagery, and background fill-work reminiscent of water and waves. These images are often stylized in a particular fashion that follows the design rules of traditional Japanese art. Individuals in traditional Japanese dress may also be part of the images.


Scratcher / Handpicked

Handpicked or scratched refers to nonprofessional tattoos. Prison tattoos falls into this category; work that is most likely done with a single needle, often a sewing needle or a pin, dipped in India ink and then pricked into one's own skin or the skin of a friend.            

We do ALL Tattoo styles, NOT JUST Tribal & Body-Art

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Skin&Ink Tattoo magazine article about John Cool's Body-Art Tattoos

My article and picture in Harley Davidson 100 year Anniversary Book

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We do ALL Tattoo styles, NOT JUST Tribal & Body-Art

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Body-Art Tattoo Photos           Tribal Tattoo Photos

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The Book of Kells   (Pagan Celt   Viking  &  Pict  Influence  on  Art)

Body-Art   Tattoo   History   Page  #1      Page  #2      Page  #3

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Body-Art Mythology  Page #1     Page #2     Page #3

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A Cultural History of the Modern Tattoo Community

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Current   Tattoo   Trends

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These designs, pictures, Photographs, JPG,s,Gifs, files, logos, Tattoos, images, content are used exclusively by John Cool's Tattoo Shop Inc. and represents our company, they are our intellectual property © 1981 All rights reserved.  All Tattoos By  Artist John Cool A. MacNeal ©1981

NO commercial or non-commercial reproductions allowed or tolerated without valid license from John Cool's Tattoo Shop Inc.

All designs and images/content/compilation herein are Copyright 1981.  Trade Mark-Service Mark protections exist. Said Copyright, Copyrights, Service Marks, Trade Marks may be filed, owned, by all, some, or individually by the following,  John Cool A. MacNeal, John Cool's Tattoo Shop Inc. and
copyright 1981