Last year, seemingly out of nowhere, embroidery tattoos began popping up all over the Instagram Explore page. At the time, the style was new to the mainstream tattoo community, but in places like Brazil, Moscow and Mexico City, tattooers had already been practicing the art of embroidery tattoo design for years. Embroidery-inspired pieces, which have a unique three-dimensional look and are deceptively similar to real-life embroidered patches—hence the style’s name—first emerged in 2017. Since then, just a handful of tattooers have made the style their specialty. Ahead, we’re highlighting seven of these must-follow artists whose attention to detail has enabled them to craft impressively realistic embroidery designs.
1. Eduardo “Duda” Lozano
Eduardo “Duda” Lozano is arguably the most popular embroidery tattoo artist in the world. With nearly 300,000 highly engaged followers on Instagram [at the time of publication], his audience is obsessed with his designs. In an interview with Tattoo Life, Lozano shared that the reason he started practicing this style was to differentiate himself from other artists. He also explained that embroidery-inspired designs can be very difficult to tattoo because in order to create a realistic three-dimensional effect, artists require a masterful understanding of light and shadow—and how to create the illusion of light and shadow by layering various colored inks.
2. Alicia Casale
Mexico City’s Alicia Casale started her tattoo career doing primarily black and grey designs. While she still does many illustrative black and grey pieces, her niche has since become embroidery tattoos. Casale’s take on the embroidery-inspired style is very unique amongst the tattooers on this list. While most of the artists named here illustrate thin ‘stitching’ in their designs, Casale opts for thick, broad stitch-like lines.
3. Fernanda Álvarez
Another great Mexican tattoo artist specializing in embroidery style is Fernanda Álvarez. The artist—who splits her time between Mexico City and cross-country guest spots in the United States—was also one of the first tattooers to begin practicing the style. She posted her first embroidery tattoo to Instagram in May 2017, over a year before nearly every other artist on this list. Her impressively intricate designs are almost exclusively nature themed—she does a lot of flora and fauna tattoos and sometimes even mixes the two together, like in the design above.
4. Ksu Arrow
A great deal of Ksu Arrow’s designs are inspired by fine art (the above tattoo is based on Vincent van Gogh’s painting “Sunflowers”) and pop culture, including music and movies (she’s done tattoos inspired by Harry Potter, Jaws, and Trainspotting, among others). The Russian tattooist specializes in hyper-detailed, illustrative, colorful micro tattoos—a style she’s been practicing for years—but is also well known for her embroidery tattoo designs, which she started doing in September 2018.
5. Paulina Oliver
Paulina Oliver is yet another Mexican tattooer who has mastered the art of embroidery style—and she’s another OG, too, having shared her first embroidery tattoo to Instagram in December 2017. Here, she tattooed a full wrap-around anklet design on her client, something that’s especially cool since it’s an accessory you can imagine seeing someone wear IRL.
6. Terioshi Otto
When he’s not tattooing large-scale realism pieces, Brazilian artist Terioshi Otto is doing embroidery tattoos instead. And unlike the realism pieces in his portfolio, whose subject matter is highly varied, all of his embroidery designs fit into a specific theme: fandom. The Rick and Morty tattoo seen above is just one example of Otto’s propensity for fandom designs. He’s also done several embroidery pieces inspired by Super Mario Bros., Dragon Ball Z, Pokémon, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, among others.
7. Russell Van Schaick
Russell Van Schaick combines his two stylistic specialties in this bold, bright Avengers tattoo. The Florida-based artist primarily does watercolor tattoos, but he occasionally dabbles in embroidery tattoo design, too. Here, he combined both styles to create a stunning composition that seamlessly blends the red and blue rings of Captain America’s shield with the surrounding red and blue watercolor splatters.