Key Steps in Illustration: A Tattoo

This exercise asked to create a tattoo around the word “MUM” for a friend. The design should then also be used for a greeting card.

I started this exercise with looking at a variety of different tattoo styles. This YouTube video comprises the History of Tattoos in 3 Minutes, as well as this website.

Maori and tribal tattoos. Examples can be found here and here.

The tattoo trends in 2018 (here for men) include a variety of motivs and styles, but I find that a majority goes back from having super bold tattoos, but rather focuses on more elegant and subtle tattoos with thinner lines.

I then discovered this Korean trend of the minimalist tattoo. See some examples here, here, or here. Basically the idea is to have a tiny and minimalist tattoo. I find them very sweet too look and very pleasing because of their delicate design, they are usually quite well done. They often are placed at a body part that is hidden.

The latter was the style I wanted to go for in my tattoo project because I like the delicate lines.

My sketchbook shows a few examples of different type and viusals that I tried out. I then focused on the small heart next to the letters MUM, as well as some options to design the greeting cards.



Final designs – visualized as a tattoo and as a greeting card

Tattoo mock-up

Here’s what my minimalist design would look like on a wrist. I find that it goes in line with the minimalistic tattoo trend.

kat-illustrates-tattoo-exercise (7)
Tattoo mock-up


Key learnings:

  • Tattoos are quite an interesting area and offer a large range for artists to express themselves and their clients.
  • I decided for a very simple design, and I’m sure a more complex one would have been a bit more work in terms of exploring ideas and ompooitions. However, when I learned about the Korean minimalist tattoo trend I was hocked and wanted to create something in this style.
  • I found it quite helpful to already know from the beginning that the design should also be made into a greeting card. Otherwise I might have decided for a different design option.
  • Generally, I’m not a big fan of tattoos, so I found it difficult to imagine a large tattoo dedicated to a person’s mother.



  • Jules’ Top-Five Korean Tattoo Trends. Published on Jan 5, 2018. URL
  • “13+ Minimalist Tattoos By A Korean Artist” by Vaiva. URL
  • “15 Minimalist Tattoo Designs from South Korea’s Burgeoning Tattoo Scene” by Mimsie Ladner. Published on July 12, 2017. URL
  •”Das sind die 9 wichtigsten Tattoo-Trends 2018″. Published on April 10, 2018.  URL
  • GQ. “Tattoo-Trends für Männer”. URL
  • GQ. “Maori Tattoos: ihre Geschichte und die Bedeutung der Symbole”.  URL
  • “Polynesische Maori Tattoos: Bedeutung der Tribalsmotive”. URL
  • YouTube. “The History of Tattoos in 3 Minutes” by Thought Monkey. Published on July 26, 2018. URL
  • “The History of Tattoos Throughout the World.” by FATIMZHRA EL ADNANI. Published on Oct 9, 2018. URL


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.