Heavily influenced by mainstream pop culture and media, New School tattoos are bright, bold and have a cartoonish quality to them. Originating in the 1970s, this style of tattooing didn’t get its true recognition until the 1990s, where iconic video games, cartoons, movies, and graffiti became increasingly popular. With the change in the mass media, came the transition of customer’s demands and tastes in art style.
New School tattooing follows the same rules as American and Neo traditional styles: heavy, bold, black lines, bright pigments and large pieces for easy legibility. However, with the advancements in ink, the tattoos themselves are often comprised of brighter colors, including neon and fluorescents, and vivid backgrounds, which changes the overall aesthetic of the image. Many artists get their inspiration from movies, specifically Disney, since the imagery can be changed and altered, yet still be an easily recognizable subject matter. Manga and anime gained a massive following in the 90s and clients started asking for characters and certain scenes to be tattooed. Japanese art has always heavily influenced American tattooing and anime is no exception.
Video games, such as Zelda and Pokémon, became a very popular subject matter when getting tattooed and, with the transition of client’s styles and substantial influence from the media, video game tattoos found their home in New School. Whereas American Traditional heavily relies on certain iconography, such as skulls and pinup girls, New School is much more specific and detailed, which makes tattooing a much more pleasurable experience for the customer who wants their piece to standout and be different from everyone else’s.
In the past, there were limited ink colours and imagination when it came to choosing a tattoo. The process involved looking at a flash sheet, pointing to a design, and getting it inked. Now, with the rise of social media, sites such as Instagram and Pinterest has made it possible for clientele to think outside the box and make specific demands. This opened a whole new world for artists as well, who can be more creative and amass a much larger clientele by creating a niche for themselves. Rather than tattooing the same skull or rose over and over again, artists can create a portfolio online which can easily be accessed and added to daily, and their customers will request THEIR art style and color palette. This is seen as a win for both sides of the spectrum.
Graffiti, made wildly popular by world renowned artists such as Banksy, gave tattoo artists a new sense of inspiration. Where before line work was straight and conventional, New School’s influence from graffiti created swooping, curving and dramatic line work. Where before red, blue and yellow were the traditional color palette, now neon pinks, highlighter yellows and florescent greens are the norm. Very often, you will also see “sparkle” like effect in the artwork, which is a recognizable aspect in Laura Anunnaki’s work. Her art is extremely bright, vivid, detailed and her subject matter is quite cute, which derives from her Japanese style. This is a style often preferred by clientele who refer to themselves as “Otaku”, meaning a person who is obsessed with computers and Japanese pop culture.
Tattoo artist, Brando Chiesa, created his niche in New School tattooing as well. He specializes in manga and anime tattoos, and is known for photoshopping the backgrounds around his tattoos, to create a more stunning and vivid imagery. For example, if he tattoos Ryuk from Deathnote, he will create a creepy, dark background that reflects the character and anime style. Often times, he will also Photoshop the tattoo itself, which is an unusual but highly creative way to display a portfolio. Usually his pieces have a creepy twist on whatever original image his clientele is requested. Often times, the imagery is also dramatic and overly sexual, which is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, like all artists, he has created a niche for himself that works for his business and art style, an important aspect in New School tattooing.
Whether you are after detailed work, pop culture references or bright, neon colors, New School tattooing is a beautiful, innovative art style. Doing your research when it comes to your artist and their preferences in line work, color palette and subject matter is extremely important, as New School provides a vast majority of subcategories and a variety of art forms. Regardless, this style of tattooing has made its mark on the community and is becoming increasingly popular among the masses with every passing day.