People have been tattooing themselves for thousands of years, all for different reasons. Some have been cultural, military, or religious in nature. Nowadays most are for personal and aesthetic reasons. What someone chooses to tattoo on their body can have immense personal meaning, meant to immortalize a moment in time, or to remember a loved one, or could simply be because it looks cool. There is really no limit to what people will ink on their bodies today, especially as being tattooed is far, far more common than in decades past.
With the amount of people getting tattooed expanding, so too have the capabilities and techniques of many tattoo artists. As more and more clients want to push the limits of what’s possible to put on their bodies, artists have bettered their techniques and perfected their skills to accommodate their canvases and create breathtaking works of art.
An increasingly popular form of tattoo today is the 3D tattoo - the art of making the tattoo appear to literally jump off the skin. While there are many, many examples of incredible 3D tattoos, the ten on this list are well-known examples, personal preferences or just plain incredible tattoos. While we’ve tried to give credit to the artists of these tattoos, there were some that could not be tracked down, so full credit to the anonymous artists on this list as well.
10 The Pizza Slice
It is probably pretty safe to say that most of us love, if not at least enjoy a slice of pizza now and again. Ok, maybe more like five or six slices of pizza every Saturday. The idea of actually immortalizing the love of pizza on your flesh is probably not something that has crossed your mind nearly as much as eating a great slice of ‘za. However, one intrepid pizza and tattoo enthusiast combined both his love of pizza and body art when he commissioned world-renowned 3D tattoo artist, Moscow, Russia-based Den Yakovlev to commit a slice of 3D photo-realistic pizza onto his body. For added effect, the photo of the new ink is taken with a real slice of pizza in hand to show just how good both the tattoo, and piece of pizza look.
9 Pen Behind the Ear
While this tattoo may be in an incredibly visible spot, especially considering the proud owner of it has a shaved head, it is unique and really cool in a maybe-I-wouldn’t-go-that-far kind of way. That said, there is no denying how badass this tattoo is and how utterly realistic this piece looks. While it may not be a tattoo for most people to commit to given the location, if you are already heavily tattooed it probably does not matter all that much. Unfortunately, the artist who did this piece has been hard to track down, so major kudos on the great work done here to the thus far anonymous 3D tattoo artist.
8 Viking Head
It really doesn’t get much more badass than Vikings; see this article for proof. So, when you combine Vikings, tattoos, and then throw some 3D realism into the mix, you end up with this incredible 3D tattoo of a Viking, apparently the god Odin, courtesy of Swedish tattoo artist Niki Norberg. Working out of Gothenburg, Sweden, while doing guest spots the world over, Niki Norberg has emerged as one of the absolute best photo-realistic and 3D tattoo artists currently putting ink to skin, and this profile of the great one-eyed God is definite proof of that.
7 Tattoo Gun
This tattoo is a shocker at first sight. It's hard to tell what part is tattoo, what part is real, until you realized the entire thing is a tattoo. And what a tattoo at that. While the artist who created this tattoo remains anonymous, it is a shame, as whoever created this piece deserves all the praise they can get. The detail in the tattoo gun is exceptional. The way the tattoo flows on the leg is one thing, but it is the incredible detail of the needle work on the lace that appears to wrap around the leg and hold the tattoo gun in place that really sets this design apart. At first and even third glance, you might be hard pressed to realize that the lace itself is actually ink on skin, and not something the undoubtedly proud owner of this work of art is wearing. Amazing.
6 Man with a Clock in his Head
In Barcelona, Spain resides one of the world’s finest photo-realistic and 3D tattoo artists. Riccardo Cassese has been creating incredibly realistic pieces for clients all over the world as of late; such are his talents. There may be no piece that exemplifies his skill as a tattoo artist better than this one, where we see an elderly person with their hand over their mouth, literally protruding from the skin, as the steps to eternity flow on by in 3D. To top this piece off, there is a clock, again protruding from the forehead of the elderly person, articulating the passage of time. The detail in the shading, the appearance of tears and sweat on the face of the subject, and the immense skill in blending the piece to make it appear as though it is literally sticking out of the client's back showcases Cassese’s skill as an artist.
5 Torn Flesh with Latin Scroll
At first glance, this tattoo may not seem quite as incredible as some of the previous tattoos on this list, but upon further inspection, the insane amount of detail is impossible to ignore. The scroll that runs from just below the shoulder, down and around the forearm is expertly shaded in grey tones, with the Latin text, apparently scripture, appearing like an ancient bible beneath the skin. While this would make for an awesome tattoo in and of itself, it is the fact that the script is beneath a 3D design of torn flesh that truly sets this tattoo above many others. The skin literally looks as though it has been shredded open, revealing an under layer of the client that is actually made of Latin script. The red tones in the shading of the wounds adds further gravitas to them, making them look fresh, raw and painful. Massive respect to the artist who created and executed this piece.
4 Scorpion Tattoo
Another tattoo that may not be as striking at first glance as others listed here, but, and only if you’re not squeamish to insects, if you look long and hard at this piece, the amazing detail of the shadowing truly becomes obvious. The guy with this tattoo literally looks like he has a scorpion sitting on his chest, which is pretty awesome, and creepy to be honest. While the artist of this tattoo has eluded us, the remarkable job at creating a piece that would probably confuse onlookers at first, making them ask “does that guy have a SCORPION on his chest?” deserves respect. If nothing else, this is surely a statement tattoo.
3 Man on the Ledge
When this list was put together we had no idea who the artists of these tattoos were, but it does not come as any surprise that this tattoo of a man walking out onto a ledge looking to jump from a building was once again created by Russia’s Den Yakovlev. It looks as though it is a recreation of the great Stock Market Crash of 1929, judging by the man’s attire and method of potentially ending his life. Skyscrapers line the background of the piece as the ledge and the man on it appears in the foreground of this 3D tattoo. The black and gray only tattoo has a distinct noir vibe as well. Seriously, this is one of the coolest tattoos ever made, and the artistry that went into it is astounding. From concept to design to execution, this piece wins on all accounts.
2 The Carved Leg
Ok, so the validity of the ‘carved female leg’ tattoo has been in question for quite some time. Some tattoo sites post it as an example of how incredible some artists' skill truly is, while other forums spend their time debunking the notion that this is a tattoo at all, claiming it is a Photoshop or a wood carving. I am not an expert on tattoos or Photoshop, so I can’t say for certain. True, this tattoo DOES seem too good to be true, BUT, at the same time, because I cannot comment assuredly on the authenticity of this piece, it’s on this list. If it IS a tattoo it’s the best I have ever seen, bar none, and if it is NOT a tattoo, it should be, because based on the skill of other artists on this list, this tattoo is probably a realistic goal for someone to complete.
1 The Double Eyes
There are no words for this tattoo. On one had, it really is an incredible 3D piece of art, but on the other hand… it's hard to imagine it being something you would want to live with for the rest of your life. On a purely aesthetic level, the tattoo of the extra set of eyes below this woman’s real eyes are picture perfect. The detail, shading and composition of this piece are really quite amazing. The four-eyed woman really looks like something out of a Clive Barker novel or something, but again, the tattoo is on her face, and will be forever. From an artistic standpoint this tattoo is top notch, from a decision making standpoint... not so sure, but kudos to both the woman and the artist bold enough to create this piece.