Black and Grey Tattoos

Simplicity in one colour

Black and grey tattoos are made by only using black ink and different shades of grey wash, sometimes with white highlights that are used to emphasise where the light source would hit the tattoo.


Black and grey tattoos is a style of tattoo that emerged in prisons in southern California.

Simply because the prisoners were unable to obtain coloured ink inside prison, instead they had to rely on ordinary black ink from stationary pens. They would use water to dilute the ink creating different tones of grey.

This style was particularly popular with the Mexican immigrants living in the United States.

And for this reason many of the designs that became popular for this style revolved around gangs and the lifestyle associated with being in a gang.

Beautiful women, low rider cars and different icons from Latin American culture was the main subject matter for black and grey tattoos. But another style of tattoos that emerged from this style of tattoos was fine line script with a single needle also commonly known as “Chicano script”.

Some of the pioneers of this style where Freddy Negrete, Jack Rudy and Mark Mahoney just to mention a few.

Today Black and grey Chicano tattoos are a popular style of tattoo and tattoo designs that revolve around  gambling , evil clowns script and a general “devil may care “attitude symbolise this style.

Not all tattoos tattooed in black & grey are “chicano” style, there is also simply black and grey tattoos or “blackwork” tattoos.

In black & grey tattoos it is extremely important to remember that all tattoos fade a little over time and for that reason it can be a good idea to have your tattoo be slightly darker when it is first done, as it will fade over time. Check out my work using this technique below.