A neo-traditional tattoo is one of the most iconic tattoo styles out there. It’s use of bold lines and colours can help you make a big statement, especially if you’re looking to go large with a sleeve or a tight design.
But what exactly is neo-traditional tattoo, how does it differ to other styles, and how do you know if it’s for you?
We’ll take a look at these questions below.
Where the neo-traditional tattoo style came from
Neo-traditional may sound like a bit of an oxymoron. After all, how can something be both new and traditional. However, to better understand what it means, we need to first look at traditional tattoos.
Although tattoos go back thousands of years, the birth of modern tattoos started with the invention of the electric needle.
Soon, the centuries-old sailor tattoos of fish and ships evolved to incorporate symbols like eagles, flags, roses and skulls. And these became the traditional or old-school tattoos that define that style today.
Although intricate for their time, these tattoos tended to be two-dimensional and used a limited colour palette, with black being dominant.
However, with improvement in needles, and the introduction of modern ink palettes, tattoo artists began to create ever-more intricate, three-dimensional designs. And it’s these that we know today as the neo-traditional style.
Neo-traditional tattoos add depth and impact
Bold and clean outlines are key to the design. You’ll see a lot of black ink, but you can also see lots of colour and shading which brings more depth to the design.
Neo-traditional tattoos are heavily influenced by the art nouveau, art deco and ukiyo-e movements which brought new life to the symbols used in traditional tattoos.
So, you’ll still see the roses, skulls, birds and lighthouses of the traditional style but added to those are more animals such as owls, foxes or people, especially women. Just about any flower can be tattooed too.
But what’s added to these symbols is a more sophisticated level of detail and depth.
Are all the best neo-traditional tattoos colourful?
Not at all. Though one of the selling points is its use of colour, you can also do amazing neo-traditional tattoos using just black and grey. Check out of some of international artist, Joao Bosco’s, amazing tattoos below. He’s influenced by the ukiyo-e Japanese art school to create some really cool designs.
Any other artists I should be inspired by?
We also love how Emily Rose Murray subtly uses both black and colour to create her stunning female characters while Dave Koenig’s use of an autumnal colours brings his characters and animals fantastically to life, using the art nouveau aesthetic.
So, is a neo-traditional for you?
Because the neo-traditional tattoo style produces such beautiful tattoos, we think this style looks great on everybody. However, to make the most of this design they are ideally suited to someone who wants to commit to a large, bold tattoo.
If it’s your starter tattoo or you don’t want to go large, we can still give you an amazing smaller neo-traditional tattoo.
Come in and talk to us
We’d love you show you how amazing a neo-traditional tattoo can be. Check our Neo-traditional Tattoo Gallery.