Photo-realism Tattoos-Artist Tom Renshaw and More

Updated on January 24, 2016

Photorealism on the Skin

Photorealism tattooing is creating tattoo work that looks just like a photograph. Realistic. It’s amazing how much more advanced and complex tattoos are now compared to years ago. The styles have changed. Techniques have been expanded upon. The equipment is more sophisticated. Artists share ideas with each other.

The three tattoo artists I have featured on this Hub are favorites of mine. I have a few tattoo sites that I began a few years back.

I did an apprenticeship with a friend of mine that owned a shop in upstate New York but it was never the art form for me. But having the brief experience of tattooing really made me appreciate the talents of these guys even more. To be able to catch a likeness in a portrait is a difficult challenge with pencil and paper – but to achieve a likeness by injecting ink into holes in a person’s skin – just seems an impossible task. These artists prove the impossible is possible.

Please take the time to leave a comment or take the poll - I'm curious to see what other people's opinion are of these talented artists.

Bob Tyrrell Tattoo Artist

You’d probably be surprised to learn that a talent as special as Bob Tyrrell didn’t even get his first tattoo until he was 29 years old. By the time he finished his apprenticeship he was 34. Just think of all those years he could have been producing all these awesome tattoos. The man’s talent is truly special. His portraits are so lifelike whether he’s tattooing humans, animals, or demons. When he began his career, he was teamed up with another famous realism tattoo artist – Tom Renshaw. Renshaw is more well known for his wildlife scenes. The talent these two men possess is truly some of the top tattoo work you’ll ever see.

Some of Tyrrell’s work is color but the majority of the realism is done in black and grey work. Notice how he’s able to get a glistening light on wet areas like the mouth, teeth, and eyeballs.

Tattoos by Bob Tyrrell

Ape Tattoo on Hand
Ape Tattoo on Hand
Kid with Mohawk
Kid with Mohawk

Tom Renshaw

Tom Renshaw has been tattooing for well over 20 years and I believe him to be one of the most talented tattoo artists living today.

Renshaw tattoos at Eternal Tattoos located in Clawson, Michigan. This man is so famous, he’s been able to focus his art on the style he enjoys the most. He does only black and gray photo realistic tattoos – no color. Many of his best clients are other artists.

His work has been in hundreds of magazines and he’s won over 400 awards. I think you’ll be able to see the similar talents between Renshaw and Tyrrell.

Tom Renshaw at Work

Tom Renshaw Tattoo - Portraits

Renshaw's Anmal and Nature Tattoos

Mike Devries

Unlike the other two artists I have listed above, Mike Devries is able to get a very realistic likeness of individuals using quite a bit of color. Perhaps his subjects are more animated than a truly realistic rendition but I thought his ability to capture a likeness of a person or animal still classifies this work as photo realism.

Mike Devries Tattoo Portraits

Pick an Artist

If you could get a tattoo from one of the three artists above - which one would you pick?

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    • profile image

      Ta2ude 20 months ago

      My very first tattoo was the bottom gorilla picture, done by Tom Renshaw.It was done 20 years ago and it still looks as amazing today as it did then. I am also the guy in the video getting the portrait of my daughter. I feel very lucky and privileged to say, that Tom and I have became best of friends and I can't express enough as to what an amazing individual he is. I have over 100 hrs of his work now and was actually there just last weekend getting a portrait of one of my dogs. If I had to pick a second favorite artist it would be Bob Tyrel, whom I've also met several times, and he would list Tom as one of his mentors. You can't go wrong with a tattoo from either of these guys but I would have to give Tom the edge.

    • Sue826 profile image

      Sue826 6 years ago from Albuquerque

      Mike Devries is one of the best - you're a lucky man

    • profile image

      Chuck 6 years ago

      I have two color portraits from Mike Devries which are part of a 1/2 sleeve, he's an amazing talent. Looking forward to getting BobTyrrell to do a black & gray portrait/pinup. Also, I have an amazing black & gray portrait by Shane's absolutely perfect.

    • Sue826 profile image

      Sue826 6 years ago from Albuquerque

      Yes, most people that are big fans of tattoos know these names - I'm hoping to introduce people that aren't fans to some of these works of art. Your friend is lucky to have received a tattoo from Tyrrell - what a talent that guy is.

    • thisspice profile image

      thisspice 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Great photos!!

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      The John Wayne one looks as realistic as a photo.

      And Catwoman looks like Marilyn Quayle.

    • Robikan profile image

      Robyn J Williams 6 years ago from Canada

      Mike Devries is one of my tattoo heroes. Amazing stuff. And a friend of mine got tattooed by Tyrrell -- the coolest zombie Jim Morrison I've ever seen. Great hub! Anyone who is a fan of art or tattoos should know these names!