Although it was seen as a fad at the time of its arrival to the states, the Pokémon series has endured for over two decades. It’s right up there with Mario and Grand Theft Auto as the three big powerhouses of the video game industry. It’s even outsold Zelda, one of Nintendo’s oldest and famous franchises. In my second 99 tattoo design article, I want to cover 99 Pokemon Tattoos for people who want to catch them all. Click here if you want to read the first one about 99 Zelda Tattoos.Whether you’re just looking to see the amazing artwork of these tattoo artists or browsing for inspiration of your own design, this Pokemon tattoo gallery is sure to have what you’re looking for.
Without a doubt, Pokémon Red is the first video game that captured my heart. I ‘borrowed’ it from my cousin so often that my mother was pressured into getting me an N64 game with the emulator just so I could have my own copy. No regrets. Of late, the series has arguably taken a plunge in quality, but that doesn’t change the nostalgia attached to the series as a whole. I’m still looking forward to their future games, at least. Let’s begin with what makes the series so great and why you’d want a Pokemon tattoo in the first place!
History of Pokemania
Pokemon started as a couple of Game Boy games specifically catering to collectors. The Pokeballs even resemble the plastic capsules you get out of gacha machines, and the separate versions encourage you to communicate with friends or buy two copies in order to catch them all. The ingenious design also happened to be fun and had some of the best customization among RPGs of the time. It’s easy to understand and more than a few kids learned how to read in order to play it. Combined with the anime—which could reach the homes of non-gamers easily every Saturady morning—the Pokemon franchise grew in popularity.
What perhaps led to its permanent resurgence was the reveal of Mew. This Pokemon was originally a small thing a developer put in because there were just a few bytes of space left to use on the cartridge. Why waste it? It was intended to be a secret, but would occasionally pop up in glitches. The talk of this ‘hidden’ Pokemon put them back in gaming headlines. They were able to distribute it by tweaking the game cartridges directly, and with that, Pokemon permanently cemented themselves as innovators in the gaming world.
At the same time, they seem to stick to the same old formula of catching them all, rather than improving other aspects of their game. It’s not an exaggeration to say that 1/4th of their latest games are simply tutorials or showing you where to go. Nonetheless, the company still takes big risks in spin-offs, the most recent of which was the widely popular Pokemon Go. Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee sparked a bit of controversy, but they were still well-received by the markets.
It doesn’t matter if you hopped on the ride twenty years ago or started learning about Pokemon when everyone started Pokemon Go. Pokemon fans are fans no matter their age, and it’s the drive to catch them all that keeps the nostalgia alive today. That…and some amazing tattoos that have easily withstood the test of time!
Pokemon Tattoo Favorites
If you’re looking to see what the most popular Pokemon are for tattoos, you’ll have a hard time looking at official sources. Why on earth could that be? You’d think the own company would know about their own critters, wouldn’t you? While it’s true that they have a significant database that shows the most used Pokemon and preferred in-game Pokemon, this will always be tied to game mechanics, rather than what people think look good. The ‘best’ in-game Pokemon will always seem the most popular on these pools, even if people set aside some slots for their favorites. Here are the most popular Pokemon for tattoos!
Pikachu is the most iconic of all Pokemon. The original mascot was intended to be Clefairy, but due to some lucky changes when the anime was being developed, Pikachu ended up as the star of the show. This easily recognizable electric mouse dominates all of the merchandise the Pokemon Company sells—and oh, do they sell a lot! If you want everyone to know about your love of Pokemon, including people who aren’t intimately familiar with the series, then Pikachu is a good choice for you.
While not as popular as Pikachu, this big red dragon won the hearts of everyone who picked Charmander as their starter. Plus, the anime made the Charmander very easy to love, and its character development was top-notch. No matter what your favorite Pokemon was, the prized holo Charizard was the card to have when you were a kid. If you had Charizard as your favorite Pokemon, then you definitely need to get yourself a Charizard Tattoo.
The cute and toony nature of Eevee and its evolutions mean they can be mistaken for cartoon characters, rather than video game characters. Nonetheless, they are probably even more popular than Pikachu when it comes to tattoo designs! Everyone loves diversity, and the Eeveelutions offer just that. The original three are recognizable and appear in primary colors—something all artists appreciate. With each new addition of Eeveelutions, the kaleidoscope of color grows. These cute, foxy creatures really give Pikachu a run for its money. So, which is your favorite Eeveelution tattoo? I personally like Jolteon ones, but Leafeon is a cutie as well.
Gengar might seem like a bit of a dark horse, but it was surprisingly popular when the game was first released, and gained a little boost when it received a Mega Evolution. It was one of the strongest Pokemon of Generation 1. It was coveted by trainers, since it needed to evolve from a traded Haunter and then traded back. You don’t trust someone with your precious Pokemon unless you really, really want that evolution. On top of all that, it was the only fully-evolved Ghost Pokemon in Gen 1.
Perhaps even more than strength, it had a good character—especially in the anime. It was depicted as a playful prankster, despite technically killing the protagonist. It’s just the right dose of creepy and charming to appeal to a wide audience. Its simple form solidifies it as an excellent tattoo design.
This might seem a little odd on this list. Snorlax is a large, lumbering, and lazy Pokemon that spends its days eating and sleeping. It looks pretty plain, doesn’t have a major role in any games or the anime (unless we count serving as a plot blockade), and didn’t have unique moves for a very long time. What’s to like about it? As it turns out, a lot of people like to eat and sleep, and they look at this Pokemon as a sort of spirit animal. I can’t say I blame them, a good meal followed by a food coma sounds like a good day to me! Perhaps you can even count yourself among them and get a Snorlax tattoo of your own.
Please note that I’m a huge fan of later generations (Gen 5 is my favorite), but the most popular are undeniably from Gen 1. I tried to throw in a few Gen 2+ Pokemon in this gallery, so you can check those out and comment if you want more info on them.
Black and White Pokemon Tattoos
Black and white tattoos look professional, classic, cost less than color tattoos, and leave a bigger impression than their color counterparts when inked properly. If you’re interested in getting black and white Pokemon tattoos, though, you need to think carefully about your style. Realistic Pokemon tattoos tend to look odd. Even professional artists have difficulty with painting realistic Pokemon in normal art, so a tattoo takes it up to a whole different level of difficulty. Instead of focusing on realism, play up the toony aspect of Pokemon, imitate traditional tattoo styles, or go with the normal art style that the Pokemon designers use.
For the toony aspect, you just have to reference the show for poses. Don’t make them exact, of course, but use simple lines and then solid black areas where there are striking markings. For Pokemon past Gen 2, it might be necessary to put some grayscale in there—designs gained more colors and complexity over the years.
When you make a traditional tattoo style, refer to Sailor Jerry tattoos or Japanese tattoos (both of which I wrote about here and here). Both styles make the most of linework to define the form. Gradients are rare, but when they appear, it’s as more of a stipple than a traditional ink gradient. If pigments are used at all, it’s only to fill in pre-defined areas. Large areas of the tattoo (such as the ‘backgrounds’ of a sleeve) can simply be filled with ink to make those Pokemon tattoos pop.
The last method of making Pokemon tattoo designs is to reference the main artist himself. Look up ‘Ken Sugimori’ and you’ll see an assortment of Pokemon art. His classic watercolor style is the one that many people grew up with, but the more recent digital style is more recognizable since it’s used in modern merchandise. In either case, these designs are meant to show off the best features of Pokemon, and make for excellent style reference material.
Where to Put them All
Wondering where to put them all? Here are a few ideas of where to put one of these 99 Pokemon tattoos!
- Wrist Pokemon Tattoos – If you need a conspicuous place to put your Pokemon tattoo, then this is where to do it. The wrist area is good for simple, small, or text tattoos. A Pokeball tattoo looks amazing here.
- Collarbone Pokemon Tattoos – Collarbone tattoos tend to be a little more eloquent. These are more personal and literally closer to your heart. Color tattoos of your favorite Pokemon or illustrative designs work well in this area.
- Arm/Sleeve Pokemon Tattoos – Arms are the perfect place to show off your interests. Dedicating a whole sleeve to your favorite childhood game can result in some amazing designs. I prefer color designs for this area, though your mileage may vary.
- Ankle Pokemon Tattoos – Like the wrist, this is a hidden place. Unlike the wrist, it’s entirely possible that only you will know about this tattoo. If you want something highly personal that only needs a small amount of space, then this is the spot to do it. Your favorite Pokemon sprite fits neatly here.
- Back Pokemon Tattoos – Finally, if your Pokemon tattoo idea is too big for those other places, it’s time to look into back tattoos. The back is the largest place on your body to get a tattoo. You can easily fit your dream team of your six favorite Pokemon onto your back. Pokemon characters like gym leaders, player characters, NPCs, or the infamous Team Rocket show up better when you dedicate more space to them.
The Best 99 Pokémon Tattoos
Phew, that’s a lot of tattoo designs to look at! There’s a lot more where that came from, too. I showed you the best of the best 99 Pokemon tattoos, so now what do you do? Quite simply, it’s time for you to get your own! If you ever get a Pokemon tattoo, go ahead and send us a picture of your ink. With over eight hundred Pokemon to catch, it’s a little difficult to ink them all at this point. However, you can still find space for your favorites. If a Pokemon has always held a special place in your heart and memories, then perhaps it’s time to solidify that bond. Now, get out there, trainers!