What You Should Know Before You Get A Fine-Line Tattoo

When it comes to tattoos, there are many celebrated styles, from intricate Japanese designs and vibrant, over-the-top new school pieces to the classic and straightforward vibe of American traditional. But in an industry driven by artists, there are always creative and cutting-edge ways to embrace self-expression. Right now, one of the most popular styles is a relative newcomer: the ethereal aesthetic of fine-line tattoos.

Even if you don't recognize this style by name, you may have seen examples of fine-line tattooing on some of your favorite celebrities. For instance, Sophie Turner of "Game of Thrones" fame has several dainty designs on her skin, including a barely-there tattoo of the north star along her spine, which was inked by renowned Hollywood tattoo artist Winter Stone (via Instagram).

Fine-line tattooing has also taken social media by storm, with plenty of gorgeous examples populating your Insta feed or ready to fill up a new Pinterest board. But what makes fine-line tattooing so distinct from other styles, and what should you know before getting one yourself?

What are fine-line tattoos?

At their core, fine-line tattoos are exactly what they sound like — extremely delicate designs created with thin linework. Typically done in black ink using a highly precise needle, these pieces avoid the bold outlines or gradation seen in most other styles (via Chronic Ink Tattoo). The result is a sleek and elegant look that resembles an ink drawing done on paper.

Because they tend to be small and understated, fine-line tattoos have become closely associated with the concept of minimalism. While there's nothing to say that a proclaimed minimalist couldn't get an expansive and colorful back piece, fine-line tattoos often fit the minimalist idea that less is more. This may be because fine-line tattooing is usually used for graceful script, dreamy, sketch-like outlines, or the application of a tiny micro-tattoo.

As aforementioned fine-line tattoo artist Winter Stone tells Mic, "Minimalism is trending at the moment, and a clean, micro design is aesthetically pleasing to so many people. I think that individuals have developed a deeper understanding of the precision that goes into this form of art and really appreciate the uniqueness of this style as something that not all artists can offer."

What to expect when getting a fine-line tattoo

Some people are drawn to fine-line tattoos not just for their look, but because they tend to be less painful (via NYC Tattoo Shop). However, these designs can also have some downsides. For one thing, there is a lot less margin for error by your artist. Because fine-line tattoos rely on perfect detail without any color or shading to hide behind, the execution must be extra precise. So it's important that you choose an artist skilled at the style.

Fine-line tattoos also require more regular touch-ups to keep them looking fresh, as the thinner, shallower ink deposits dissipate into the skin more quickly. In a best-case scenario, they may just end up fading and looking indistinct. More intricate pieces can quickly become blurred blobs as the ink naturally bleeds into the surrounding skin.

But this doesn't mean that fine-line tattoos are a bad idea — they just need to be approached thoughtfully. Ask your artist to recommend placement, size, and details for your desired design. This will help ensure that you're getting a tattoo with decent longevity.

On the upside, once you've finally got your coveted tat, fine-line pieces have an easier healing process. "The tattoo will not scab nearly as much," Pobi, an artist at Ink & Water Tattoo, tells Popsugar. "When a thicker tattoo heals, it is typical for the tattoo to scab over during the healing process; however, you will not notice this as much with finer-line pieces."