Tattoo Styles: Minimalist Tattoos

Minimalist tattoos are the ones that are reduced to its necessary elements. The aim is to strip everything down to its essential quality and achieve simplicity.

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Minimalism is a 20th century art movement characterized by extreme simplicity. Minimalism, on Tattoo Filter, refers to self-contained and tangible works of art.* These designs are focused on removing all nonessential elements, at times even attempting to erase the presence of the artist. The artist can arguably never be completely removed from the work, though, for they are choosing what is subjectively “essential.”

Negative space is a key component of minimalism. By omitting the majority of details from a subject or idea, the emptiness serves to prioritize and emphasize specific details.

Minimalism formally emerged after WWII in New York, first in sculpture and paintings that used simple color schemes and unadorned geometric shapes. Roots of contemporary minimalism can be found in the Soviet Constructivist, Bauhaus and De Stijl movements.

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Minimal tattoos refer to the content of the piece, not the size. A very small but complex tattoo, with no companion tattoos around it, may be mistakenly called “minimal.” Despite the large amounts of negative space available in this case, a composition is still only minimal if it uses the most deconstructed version of the subject possible.

*Terminology disambiguation:

In art, “minimalism” can also describe deconstructed music motifs, simplified poetry and literature, or a push for scarcity in interior design and architecture. These art forms are sometimes called “postminimalist,” inspired by minimalist philosophy but ultimately occupying a different kind of space and yielding a unique type of engagement from the viewer. While they do pare down nonessential elements, they offer temporal and/or immersive experiences, rather than being a fixed set of elements in a tangible and controlled space.

In secular sociopolitics and geopolitics, “minimalism” can refer to anti-consumerism and anti-colonialism. It can describe a philosophical preference for inaction, non-expansion and non-acquisition. These outlooks may belong to a person who enjoys or creates minimalist art, but they are not wholly intertwined with the minimal art movement.

Check our minimalist tattoo gallery for more.

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