Lettering

Unlimited styles of lettering and fonts are available for tattoos. Some services provide customized fonts. There are a few major style categories that all fonts fall under.

Traditional

This font was made popular by Sailor Jerry, a legendary tattoo artist who developed a style of tattoos that had clean, sharp lines and bold coloring. Used in traditional style tattoos, it involves thick, blocky letters that contain thin lines or serifs. Traditional font is often two-toned, and some of the shading uses the flesh to contribute to the design.

Old English

Also known as blackletter, this style of writing originated in the 12th century. It’s similar to calligraphy and a popular font for tattoo lettering.

Typewriter Face

The ideal font for quotes, typewriter face depicts the smudgy, bold text of old-school typewriters. It’s actually difficult to produce, and it can be hard to find a tattoo artist who’s capable of capturing the crisp lines that are required.

Handwriting

While some handwriting fonts depict the playfulness of a word or phrase, others can be personal. For example, people use the handwriting of a loved one, such as a child or a deceased relative, or the autograph of a celebrity.

West Coast Script

A modern take on Old English, this font is heavily stylized with drop shadows and outlining. Often used in Mexican-American street culture tattoos, this style varies from artist to artist.

Cursive or Script

This is a broad category—there are unlimited variations of cursive lettering. All of them tend to have rounded edges and elaborate capital lettering.