Optical illusions are images that trick your visual system into appearing different than reality. The key to pulling off an optical illusion is precision, which falls on mathematics. If the image is off by even a fraction of a millimeter, the illusion is destroyed. Perhaps the most well know artist who frequently created optical illusions is M.C. Escher. Escher created impossible objects by playing with concepts such as reflection, symmetry, perspective and repetition. Despite not having a background in math, Escher spent time with great mathematicians throughout Europe and studied tile patterns found in Spanish architecture.
During the 1960s, optical art (coined op art by Time Magazine) became a pop culture phenomenon. These pieces were typically in black and white, creating the illusion of movement, swelling and warping. Artists often created this effect through stripes and squares, playing on the contrasting relationship between foreground and background. English painter Bridget Riley is one of the best known artists of the movement, later introducing color to her work.
Many tattoo artists have found inspiration from optical art and have accepted the added challenge of creating illusions on one of the most difficult canvases imaginable—the human body! However, despite the obvious challenges of creating symmetry and precision on the human body, many talented tattooers have succeed at this task and the results are truly extraordinary. Take a peek at some of the most successful optical illusion tattoos from artists around the world in the gallery below, then let us know your thoughts on this story on social media.