Gallery of dotwork style tattoos that can be filtered by subject, body part and size.read more
Dotwork, sometimes called pointillism or stippling, is a technique that builds some or all of a tattoo from separate and individual dots. These can be made by hand or machine, with variations of needle widths and spacing for different effects. It's a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, specially when hand poked.
The style distributes countless dots on the canvas, so that seen from a distance, a picture is made up. Depth and shading is achieved through the various distances between each dot.
Dotwork is visually versatile; it can be a supplementary design element or the sole technique in a tattoo. When used for an impressionist effect, it can simulate solid lines or shapes from afar. When dispersed in a gradient, it can give the appearance of shading.
Hand-poking and hand-tapping dots in tattoos predates recorded history. Contemporary scholars trace the roots of modern dotwork, however, back to the UK. Xed LeHead, often referred to as “The Dotfather” by industry professionals, first experimented with 3-needle dot impressionism around 1980. While he wasn’t the first to use dots in tattooing, he is credited with discovering never-before-seen gradients and patterns that spread throughout the UK, and later adopted by tattooers worldwide.
While original innovations in dotwork were used primarily for sacred motifs and geometric designs, artists can now incorporate dots in almost any art style.
Whether executed by machine or by hand, dotwork tends to be less traumatic to the skin than other techniques, and can often provide a faster / smoother healing process. Consistency requires a highly trained technician, though, to hit the same depth of the dermis with each dot. It can also be an incredibly tedious and time-consuming practice, depending on the complexity of the tattoo.