3D tattooers are magicians, crafting optical illusions on to your limbs. They can park your shoulder in a war zone, turn ribs into a window for island paradise, or lift intricate patterns off of your skin to dazzle passers-by.
And unlike a painting or illustration, this artwork won’t live on a firm, 2D canvas. Skin stretches, moves and wrinkles. It takes incredible skill to master 3D designs on such a curved, elastic surface like the human body. But the tattooers who can pull it off? They’ll give their clients an unforgettable work of art.
Top: Realistic 3D helicopter by Niki Norberg, (the start to this sleeve).
Mind vortex and honeycomb half sleeve by Cory Ferguson.
Did you forget to breathe for a second? Cory Ferguson can have that effect on people. His geometric patterns and dotwork designs can alter the body’s perceived size and shape. Clients can take control of their bodies in a unique way, manipulating their own proportions. A bald head or bicep can become a permanent conversation starter.
Cartography shoulder and cloudscape design by Lippo.
He’s often copied, but can’t be touched. Italian artist LIPPO was an Internet sensation before he even had a fan page. Unlike his contemporaries in the world of realism, LIPPO doesn’t want to plant objects on your skin. He wants to know what lies beneath the surface, to peel back the layers and reveal your true nature.
3D bicycle and vintage car tattoos by Denis Sivak.
Ukraine and Russia are known for their realistic tattoo talent. But even among the best photo-real tattooers in the world, few opt to go 3D. Denis Sivak, based in Odessa, literally stands out in the crowd. Lifting his images off of the skin, he breathes new life into inanimate objects.
Polynesian ocean half-sleeve design, and layered abstract shapes by Andrea “Metamorfosi" Audisio.
Andrea “Metamorfosi" Audisio
The half-sleeve heard ’round the world, above, is by Andrea “Metamorfosi" Audisio, and it sparked more than just a few copycats. Metamorfosi is part of the neo-tribal movement, converting traditional Polynesian symbols into modern art designs. He also plays with simple geometry, adding complex gradients and intricate dotwork to always leave a lasting impression.
Maple leaf sleeve and grape vine of keys by Dmitriy Samohin.
It would be a crime to forget Ukraine’s Dmitriy Samohin. You might remember the name from his groundbreaking, photo-real portraits of African tribes in 2012. Beyond his remarkable portrait work, Samohin also has a way with nature and landscapes. Whether he’s enveloping your arm in a perfect Autumn’s day, or experimenting with surreal biotech concepts, Samohin continues to push the boundaries of tattoo art.
Intricate clock and full sleeve with classic sculptures by Niki Norberg.
Black and grey all the way, Niki Norberg rarely works in color. Monochrome serves him well, lending a timeless and classic quality to his art. He specializes in classic sculpture adaptations, intricate mechanical designs, and hyperrealistic portraits. Based in Götenberg, Sweden, Norberg travels the world and the world travels to him for consistent, unparalleled perfection.
Photos © respective artists