Optical Illusion Tattoos: The Rising Trend


If you’re on any social media platform and have been browsing your newsfeed for the last few weeks, chances are you’ve seen the video of a woman with a tattoo on her back that appears to move.

No, this isn’t a trick of the light or a new tattoo technique that means moving images can now be embedded in the skin of your clients; it’s simply your vision playing tricks on you. Yes, the wonderful world of optical illusion has now firmly attached itself to the tattooing world, and with the video mentioned above going viral, we don’t think this new trend is going anywhere soon!

The Rising Phoenix

If you haven’t seen the video that we’re talking about, it was posted by Austrian Tattoo Design Art Studio Andre on Facebook. The video shows a tattoo which depicts a phoenix which appears to fly as the person moves their shoulders up and down.

The video has been viewed – at the time of writing this post – over 38 million times and has racked up over 480 thousand shares. This tattoo is incredibly impressive, but it isn’t the first time that optical illusions have featured in the tattoo world; it has brought this unique style back into the limelight, though!

Brain Teasers

Whether it’s a 3D butterfly that looks like it’s perching on your shoulder for a rest or even an intricate zip tattoo that makes it look like you can simply unzip your skin and reveal a robotic skeleton underneath, illusion tattoos have become increasingly more popular as time goes on.

It takes a whole other level of skill to create these mind-boggling designs, and it may be that your style simply doesn’t allow for such realistic results. It’s not just a case of drawing up a design; it needs to be placed perfectly to show off the illusion, too!

The placement is important as many illusion tattoos rely on shadows, which you will need to tattoo onto the design; if these aren’t accurate, it can make the illusion fail and look flat. This is especially important in designs which have something appearing to come out of the skin, or even an object that looks like it’s placed on top of the skin.

It doesn’t require any specialist tattoo equipment either – just the standard kit you would normally use!

Tattoo Movement

While most of the tattoo illusions that we’d come across before the phoenix one that spurred on this post were static images that trick the brain without movement, some tattoos give the illusion of movement, too.

The phoenix tattoo works well as a static tattoo, but the beauty of it lies in the fact that it can move when the shoulders are moved up and down slowly. This is what has drawn so much attention to the piece for sure – while it’s an incredible piece of artwork, the movement is what makes it so unique.

We think that this is only the beginning for moving illusion tattoos; it's in the nature of tattooists that once a bar has been set and clients come in wanting something similar, they will need to adapt and gain new skills to be able to deliver what clients want – if they feel like they can take on the challenge!