Black and grey tattooing was born in the prison system of Southern California and slowly evolved into the style we see today. Inmates had limited access to supplies and could only easily make black pigment. Using what they had, they created tattoos that showed depth by using varying tones of grey to show light and dark. The style was given its proper name of “black and grey” by Ed Hardy after pioneers in the industry like Jack Rudy and Freddy Negrette helped showcase it and bring it across the country. Today black and grey tattoos are one of the most popular and asked for styles.
Moving away from its prison roots, most tattooers use a series of washes varying in intensity to create the smooth gradient. This method allows the natural luminosity of the skin to come through. Un-tattooed skin reflects light while tattooed skin doesn’t. By allowing areas of open skin to act as the “white” it adds a luminous effect to the piece. Black and Grey tattoos are great for the sun worshippers as they hold truer through the test to time and to UV exposure.
Click here to see examples of black & grey tattoos.