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Minimalist Tattoos Look Like They Were Made with a Paintbrush

Artist Lee Stewart's tattoos simulate bristles and brushstrokes.
Images courtesy the artist

Tattoo artist Lee Stewart has cultivated her own unique style, one that emulates the visual texture of a paintbrush on canvas. She calls them "brushstroke tattoos.” Influenced by the street art of Berlin and East Asian ink wash painting, Stewart’s designs range simple calligraphies to intricate models of animals and flowers.

Stewart got her start in Estonia, where she was coached traditionally in the technical aspects of tattooing. She began honing her craft in 2007, a time when Eastern European tattoo aesthetics were rooted primarily in what Stewart describes as, “tribal designs and the strong traditions of Slavic criminal tattooing.”


During her time as an apprentice, she studied the flow of the human body and the anatomical importance of placement. Stewart tells The Creators Project her goal is, “not simply to reproduce an appearance of a subject onto the skin, but rather to create custom designs that capture an expressionistic spirit of the subject.”

A photo posted by Lee Stewart (@_leestewart) on May 2, 2016 at 5:55pm PDT

Through these dynamic, sweeping gestures, Lee recreates the trailing flare of a paintbrush on canvas. This approach allows her to not only insert movement into her tattoos but the depict the essence of their character. She likes to focus on flux and perfecting the composition of her work, all the while, “eliminating useless detail,” a perspective she says pushes her work into the abstract.

“Abstract work is a great challenge of perfecting composition with balance of weight and depth, and making the flow of the piece match and compliment the general build and curvatures of the body at hand, so that the right parts of the body can be accentuated,” she explains.

Good placement, she says, is everything: “Form flattering tattoos will become alive, when the person moves the limb, that the tattoo is placed on. The piece is no longer an inanimate interpretation of a figurative subject: it breathes, moves and follows the person it’s on.” Stewart sees tattooed bodies as living, walking contemporary art exhibitions. This means that when she's working with someone that already has tattoos, she'll curate her work to fit in with the other pieces as a whole.


Check out more of her work below:

Added a #catfish and a #frog (seen swimming away) to the underwater leg-sleeve in Sydney. Can't wait to continue even further! #avantgarde #avantgardetattoo #brushstroke #brushstroketattoo #fishtattoo #marineanimals #sydney #australia #btattooing #blaxckink #blacktattooart #darkartists #tattoo2me #blackworkerssubmission #tattooful #tattooistartmag #tattoosnob #inked #inkedmag #taot #blacktattoomag #inklife #equilattera #radtattoos #tattooersubmission #tttism #inkstinctsubmission #skinartmag

A photo posted by Lee Stewart (@_leestewart) on Mar 29, 2016 at 7:28pm PDT

A photo posted by Lee Stewart (@_leestewart) on Nov 26, 2015 at 6:30pm PST

See more of Lee Stewart’s brush stroke tattoos on Instagram and on her website.


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