Tattoo Wars

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Tattoo Wars TV Poster Image
Fairly tame reality show approaches inking as art.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series approaches tattooing as an historic art form. It highlights the hours of hard work and practice that go into tattoo designs before they're inked onto skin. Both men and women are shown getting tattoos; the tattoo artists are primarily male and Caucasian.


A few featured tattoo artists talk about getting hit or "roughed up" as kids.


Men and women are inked on their backs, arms, chests, and thighs. Artistic renditions of female nudity (like a postmodern cubist rendition of a woman) are occasionally visible. These images aren't sexually explicit.


Shows various tattoo parlors and studios in the U.S. and Canada. Also shows various tattoo convention venues. Tattoo-themed magazines and related businesses sometimes visible.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Occasional alcohol consumption.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, while mild compared to many other reality shows, this series is very much pro-body art and frequently shows people who have tattoos covering their whole body and/or various body piercings. The risks of the tattooing process aren't really addressed; instead, the show looks at tattooing as an art form. Adult men and women are shown being inked on various body parts (including backs, chests, and thighs). Some of the tattoo designs incorporate nudity, but it's often stylized and never sexually explicit.

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What's the story?

Following in the footsteps of other popular tattoo-centric reality shows, TATTOO WARS pays homage to the creative process of converting the human body into a complex, painted work of art. In each episode, two internationally renowned tattoo artists agree to simultaneously sketch and ink a specific image onto a willing recipient in less than four hours during a crowded tattoo convention. The image -- which is agreed upon before the competition -- must showcase each tattooist's own unique style. Convention attendees vote for the one they like the most.

Is it any good?

The series approaches contemporary tattoo work as the modern form of an art that dates back to ancient times. Viewers get to see how tattooists research their designs, create rough sketches, and work with the shape of the human body to create their tattoos. Works ranging from ancient Japanese paintings to Picasso's Cubist pieces inspire them.

While not the most stimulating of shows, Tattoo Wars does offer some interesting details about tattooing as both an art form and as an industry. Tattoo artists describe some of the practices that are traditional to the industry and detail some of less-than-glamorous experiences they had as apprentices. They also showcase some of the complex body art for which they're famous.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about tattoos. What are some of the reasons that people get tattoos? What are they trying to communicate with their body art? Are all tattooists really artists? What are parents' and kids' opinions on tattoos? If they differ, why? Do people's opinions about body art tend to change as they get older? Why? Why is getting a piece of body art a big decision? What are some of the health issues associated with getting them? What happens if you change your mind later?

TV details

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