Pros and cons: Color and Black & Gray

You have the perfect design in mind… will it look better on you in color or black & grey? This is a question many people getting a tattoo for the first time have to consider. Both types of designs have their pros and cons. And tattoo artists have preferences based on your skin type and design. 

Black & gray tattoos are the most traditional. Early organic pigments, the natural coloring substances used in original body art, read as black or deep brown. Most tattoo artists learn first with black and gray and move on to color. Some, though, are color prodigies who work bright and bold from day one. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each type.

Black & gray tattoos:

  • are well suited for flat images
  • show contrast well (which makes this type of tattoo suitable for dark skin)
  • have a more traditional feel
  • won’t clash with your clothes, hair or makeup
  • may seem subtler
  • may hold longer, stronger
  • may not work as well for complex, multidimensional images


Color tattoos have come a very long way since the days of traditional limited palettes. The brightness, holding power and sheer range of today’s colored inks have opened unlimited possibilities.

Color tattoos:

  • can be traditional or hypermodern
  • can capture details
  • are great for realistic images and portraits 
  • are undeniably expressive
  • work well with the skin’s pigmentation
  • offer practically endless combinations 
  • can fade when exposed over time to sunlight

Remember that whatever type of tattoo design you choose, it all starts with picking the right tattoo artist.