Dotwork Tattoos: style & technique

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by Fade FX-

In the last 20 years dotwork tattooing has grown into a uniquely recognizable style, since specializing in this area I’ve been interviewed many times by tattoo magazines about it’s ancestry,  origin and key influencers.

Dotwork itself echo’s an artistic drawing style called pointillism

which solely utilizes dots to build up texture and shading.

American and Australian tattooists’ I have worked with, refer to dotwork as stippling.



Xed La Head is recognized as a founder of the genre since beginning tattooing dotwork in the 90’s. I undoubtedly owe him thanks for kickstarting my favorite style but he wasn’t entirely alone, Blackwork Tattoo book credits at least one other artist across the globe utilizing dotwork at the same time.

From relative obscurity, dotwork has increased in popularity to such an extent it’s become a movement in itself and mandalas are now one of the most popularly requested tattoos.

When I started tattooing, no one had heard of this style and very few had actually seen it. At conventions, I would be the only one tattooing dotwork, where as now there are several artists per show.

At this time I looked up to Xed La Head, Jondix and Cory Ferguson and even managed to get tattooed by JDX and Cory. Watching them tattoo me whilst still in the early stages of my career was a lesson in itself and I immediately applied what I’d seen in my own tattooing practices.

As I began to specialize in this style the complexities of drawing intricate patterns and mandalas became increasingly obvious.

I even tried working out mathematical formulas for drawing illusions/using the golden ratio.

I’ve always loved technical drawing and even now,  my favorite pieces are from the world of engineering featuring schematics and exploded view diagrams of machinery.




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Tattoo Artist since 1990 and creator/publisher of Tattoo Artist Magazine since 2003

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