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Styles: A Guide For Finding The Best Tattoo Shop Near Manchester, CT

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

If you're looking for a new tattoo shop near Manchester, CT then you've come to the right place. I am Caitlynn Abdow, a tattooer with over 15 years of experience and their very own studio. My business, Wildwood Tattoos, is a recently opened tattoo shop near Manchester!

When it comes to getting the best tattoo, you first have to find the artist or studio that can best bring your vision to life. First ask yourself, "What style do I want my idea to be in."

What are some different styles of tattoos?

When you’re looking for a tattoo shop near Manchester, CT, it can be overwhelming to sift through all the different artists, styles, and shops out there, and communicate your idea with your artist. While I’m just one artist and there are so many styles and ways of working, I have been doing this for a while now, so I hope to help explain some of the styles that are available, and what the process for those styles looks like.


In the tattoo business, flash refers to sets of designs drawn or painted by tattoo artists to make great tattoos. They’re designs that are thoughtfully created with skin, tattoo ink, and body proportions in mind, from the inspiration stage to the finished design. Almost every tattoo shop near Manchester has some flash options available!

When you think of tattoo flash, you might picture an old-school shop with racks of design sheets or framed sheets covering the walls. I often hear people say, “I would never just pick something off the wall!”, but sometimes those designs on the wall are works of art that your favorite artist has poured their skill and passion into.

Flash is one of my favorite ways to work, and I design new flash sheets every few months. The flash I draw is inspired by the places I live, work, and travel, the seasonal changes and nature around me, and the things I like to draw best. If you’d like to see where your artist really shines, and they’re a flash artist, check out their flash!

American Traditional:

This is some of the original flash art! Think Sailor Jerry, ladies in martini glasses, simple phrases in bold lettering, sailors, and ship wheels. American traditional tattoos are bold, bright, and built to last. That said, no tattoo can withstand constant abuse, so if your granddad has a blobby spot that used to be a compass on his forearm, he probably spent a whole lot of time getting sunburned and may have gotten that tattoo on a drunken binge while in the navy, and healed it with seawater and sand instead of soap and aftercare ointment. Aftercare ointment didn’t exist back then, anyway.

American traditional tattoos are a style that has continually been drawn, re-drawn, and re-mixed to fit the era for decades, but some themes tend to stick. That's why it's probably easiest to find a tattoo shop near Manchester with an artist who specializes in this style.

Recurring themes include:

-sailors, ship imagery, sparrows (lots of naval symbolism because tattoo shops and ports of call have gone hand in hand for a long time)

-symbols to represent power, fierceness, and strength, like wolves, tigers, and panthers

-symbols for luck like horseshoes, four-leaf clovers, and dice, and symbols for beating luck or being beaten by it like devils, snakes, and skulls.

-Symbols for love like hearts, roses, and banners with a loved one’s name

An anchor on your granddad’s arm can mean the same thing to you today; steadiness, safety, and resistance to the storms of life. You might not decide to get “mom” written in a heart, but choose your pet’s name instead!

Another component that makes American Traditional style stand out is that it usually contains no more than 5 colors, based on what ink colors were available decades ago. It’s also designed to be tattooed quickly and efficiently. It’s the minimalism of tattoos (without being a minimalist tattoo, which is a totally different style). Back in the 1940s and ’50s, no reliable purple color existed for tattoo artists, black was dark green, and red was iffy. Artists had to work with what they had to make a good design that would last well and read clearly.

Engraving Style

Engraving style is a term for tattoos that use linework to add value and depth to an image. These tattoos do not use shading, only lines, sometimes in different widths, called line weights. When designing an engraving-style tattoo, I look at medieval and Renaissance woodcuts and engravings as inspiration while referencing photos of the objects I’m about to draw.


Neotraditional takes some of the guidelines of American Traditional (bold lines, bright colors, illustrative rather than realistic style) and adds some newer drawing skills, line weights, and a whole expanded range of colors. It takes advantage of the almost infinite reference images available now. Want a sloth hanging off a branch on your shoulder with leaves swirling around it at a random angle? We can do that now without ever seeing a real sloth in person.

Neotraditional style often uses swirling lines and dynamic poses in compositions, so the tattoo can feel like looking through a window into another, more magical world.

Black and Grey:

Black and gray technically means a tattoo that doesn’t use color inks (and that’s what I mean when I refer to it in my work), but black and gray is also a style. Traditional black and grey tattoos can get a very high level of detail and realism without using color pigments. Black and grey style is often used for portraits and fancy, calligraphy-style lettering.

Some black and grey artists do not use an outline, giving the effect of a beautifully blended pencil or charcoal drawing. Soft, soft blends characterize it as opposed to the darker, shading of American Traditional. I use black and grey style techniques when tattooing footprints or paw prints, but I prefer to add an outline for definition and contrast for everything else.

Color Realism:

Full-color realism resembles a realistic painting or a color photograph. When you see a color tattoo of a celebrity’s face or a snarling tiger where you feel like you could pet the fur or get bitten by the teeth, it’s color realism. Realism style can also be used for tattoos that look 3D, where there’s a shadow or the tattoo looks like it’s popping out of the skin.

I don’t do a ton of color realism, but I do like to add a shadow now and then for the right project. When looking for a tattoo shop near Manchester, it's important to keep in mind something like this.

Folk Art/ Decorative:

Folk art refers to decorative and often utilitarian art. Think of tapestries, painted dishes, and flowers painted on wooden boxes. It’s the art humans draw when daydreaming or passing the time on a long winter night. It can mean so many things, but in my practice, folk art refers to designs inspired by nature with a decorative, craft-style twist.

I reference embroidery designs, pottery paintings, and folk and fairy tale illustrations to tell a story and create a timeless and magical image. Decoration for the sake of decoration is an essential component - it’s not trying to be a realistic scene. Still, it represents an idea or story in a beautiful, visually simple way.

Cosmetic and Paramedical:

Cosmetic tattooing is an entirely different approach to tattooing. Instead of creating a picture separate from the human body, it’s a way to repair or enhance parts of the face and body. Cosmetic tattooing can create and enhance eyeliner, eyebrows, and lips. It can also help mask scars and recreate body parts, such as areolae for breast cancer survivors, missing toenails, and receding hairlines! It pulls techniques from realism-style tattooing and uses color matching and color correction to create a natural appearance.

Not every tattoo shop near Manchester specializes in cosmetic and paramedical tattoos. However, this is something that I've been taking courses, training, and practicing so I can offer these options! Here's an example of a before and after:

Other styles:

There are SO many styles of tattooing out there, so this list is by no means exhaustive, but these are the styles I’m most familiar with and most able to write about. If you have questions or want to know more about a particular style or tattoo you’ve seen, please ask; I’m happy to help if I can!

Other Important Tips

Now that you have some information about tattoo styles, you might wonder what the next step is in your search for a tattoo shop near Manchester. Here are a couple of recommendations:

Figure out a basic idea of what you’d like to get, and put it into a couple of simple sentences (I don’t know about other artists, but I get lost in the details if you give me too much information right away!).

This can be as simple as, “I want a portrait of my cat in color on my shoulder, with forget me not flowers below her” or, “I want an anchor to represent my grandfather, who was a sailor” You can also ask your artist for recommendations on the best placement for a particular idea. Having a 2-3 reference images of designs you like and of the thing you want to be represented can be very helpful. If you don’t have an exact idea, we’re here to help, but it’s good to have a solid starting point so you and your artist have something to discuss.

When looking for a tattoo shop near Manchester, make sure to research artists and look at artist portfolios extensively! The main shop will mostly post highlights so that's why researching each artist beforehand works the best. Check out different styles - do you like photorealistic cats, American traditional style cats, or a playful, folk art style representation of a cat? Does the artist post photos of their tattoos after they’ve healed, and do you like the result? Do you want to work with a particular artist whose work you love and are willing to wait or travel to work with them, or do you want to get your tattoo soon and don’t care too much who does it as long as they do a good job? As a baseline, find an artist who has examples of tattoos in a style that you like.

There are many good artists out there, so chances are, whatever style you’re looking for, you can find someone who can do it!

Example of a fresh vs healed tattoo:

TL;DR Finding The Perfect Tattoo Shop Near Manchester, CT

If you made it this far, you should be able to find the perfect tattoo shop near Manchester for your next tattoo. If you’re skipping to the end, here’s a handy graphic for tattoo styles I made up, with designs based on a mulberry tree leaf, which is a part of the Manchester town seal, aka Silk City!

If you’ve checked out my work and would like to book a tattoo or consultation, I have a handy request form here. Also, feel free to follow my Instagram @tattoosbycaitlynn

Happy tattoo adventures!

different tattoo styles for choosing the best tattoo shop near manchester


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