The Art of Ink: Neo Traditional

The Art of Ink: Neo Traditional

(Spike jingle) (soft music) – [Todd] You’re taking tradition, something that is traditional, throughout history of tattooing, and you’re adding something new to it. For me it was I guess a new art form, so I was just trying
anything I could to learn it. I was like “Oh, I can do a skull this way, instead of that way that
guy did it back in the 40s. Just add my own twist to it or use a thinner line here,
a thicker line there, and not have these confining rules. – [Joe] What’s possible in a
tattoo has expanded greatly. Not only have the pigments come further, not only has the application come further, but also the array of things
that you can choose from. It’s just been an
evolution of the art form. – I think I was pulled to
neo-traditional tattooing mainly because of the imagery, the classic Americana folk imagery of the old tattoos you’d
see on your uncle’s forearm from World War II. Skulls, eagles, snakes, pinups, daggers. – I went to art school,
I studied illustration. Neo-traditional tattooing is
the way that I would paint left to my own devices, you know, it’s a style that I can
achieve in the tattooing medium that lends itself to how I would normally create an image. – Within traditional and
neo-traditional tattooing, there’s a lot of the same imagery. The skulls, the daggers, the pinup girls, babies, hearts, crosses, it’s just how it’s portrayed. – The history of flash
artwork for tattoos, which is sheets with designs ready to go, came from the carnie era. You know, the biggest tattooed lady or the most tattooed man, and there would be a
guy tattooing there too, so you know, once they got to the town, they setup their tent, they would setup their tattoo gear, they would have their
flash sheets with designs out on the walls for
the customers to pick. Somebody would come in, say “Oh I want that skull and dagger,” and they would tattoo it. And that really solidified the imagery that neo-traditional uses. – You see a lot of nautical
themes in neo-traditional because of the American
traditional tattoos. A lot of those were done for Navy people who were on shore leave. They’d come in and they’d line up and they’d pick off of flash sheets and they’d get tattooed, you know, those guys knew what
their demographic was, so they’d design a lot of tattoos based on what a Navy guy would want to get. – When I think of neo-traditional tattoos, their roots are in the time where you said “Yes ma’am, yes sir”, you’d open the doors for
ladies or old people or whoever else was in front
of you or behind you. There are things that are lost today that don’t kind of relate
to that era and this, kind of helps bring the whole thing back. – I think neo-traditional
probably started with Ed Hardy taking a traditional tattoo and just maybe doing it a little different and going outside the box a little bit. It’s like, “Oh, he can go outside the box, maybe I can go outside the box this way,” and everybody just starts journeying outside the box a little bit. – Ed Hardy, he’s pretty much the godfather of modern tattooing. He definitely got a new
generation of tattooers interested in that tattoo language. Skulls, snakes, daggers, he played with a lot of
that stuff and changed it, he would morph a rose into a panther head, and he would do strange, abstract things. He basically took tattooing
and flipped it on its head. Ed Hardy really brought
neo-traditional to light. – [Joe] The subject matter
of neo-traditional tattoos is not the same as traditional tattooing in the sense that when you
look at traditional tattoos, a lot of those were made for bikers and sailors and prisoners, a certain demographic. Neo-traditional takes that subject matter, but in the same way that the application is a little more progressive, so is the subject matter, so you could make anything
into a neo-traditional tattoo, just by drawing it in that style. – Every day is different,
every client’s different, every tattoo is gonna be different. Somebody could come in and they’re like, “I want Jon Bon Jovi portrait, but I want it done neo-traditional style.” It can be done, you can apply a certain loose set of rules of
neo-traditional tattooing to almost any imagery
that’s based in reality. If it’s a skull, if it’s a sword, if it’s a dagger, if
it’s a one-eyed ferret, it can be done. – [Joe] The application is
really the most important part of the style. Bold and saturated and strong. Definitely I use a black outline in every tattoo I do. I also try to use multiple line weights. I usually use a light source so that it has a little bit
more of a sense of realism than just a flat image. (soft music) – My roles are bold lines,
crisp lines, clean lines, enough black that the colors are brighter. – I try to have a good
balance of warm and cool, use at least one bright color and use a lot of muted color, so that the bright color appears
bright by contrast. I really base the colors that I’m using more on color theory than
is applicable to reality. You know, if it’s a leaf, I don’t necessarily
have to color it green. I can make it yellow if that’s
what the piece calls for. I can do whatever I want, it’s art. – The colors I like to
use are earth tone based. I’ll have super bright
colors for highlights or small hints here and there, just stuff that grabs your attention without being like “Hey!
I’m a bright color!” It serves its purpose within the tattoo. – I think there’s a lot of challenges with designing any tattoo because most of the time
when I’m working on somebody, they’re a perfect stranger to me, and I have to indelibly mark their skin, and hope that they like
it as much as I do. There’s no accounting
for taste in the thing. It’s like my taste might
be different than yours. I could do a tattoo
that looks great to me, but you might not like the color pink, and I used pink all over that tattoo, and now you’re horrified. The real challenge is trying to understand how to make the wearer happy. – The generations now
are more in tune to like, what they want. You know, they come in
here and they actually make fun of this shit on the walls, and it’s kind of disrespectful, I’m like, “You wouldn’t be getting tattooed if this shit didn’t exist”. It led to where you’re at now. – The best thing about a
neo-traditional tattoo is the longevity. It’s bold and saturated and it
lasts for a really long time. I try to use my imagination. That’s not always easy because it’s hard to sit down and go, “Alright imagination, let’s go. Let’s come up with a completely
original and new concept.” (laughing) I just try to get a little
bit better every day, and over the long haul,
maybe I’ll be good. – I’ve always been near the ocean, I’ve always had an attraction to it, so my dream shop was to be as
close to the beach as possible so I could go surf, come back and tattoo, go surf, come back and tattoo. There’s not a day that
I wake up and I’m like, “I don’t wanna go to work today.” I like the tattoos that I’m doing. I just wanna do more of them. – The thing I enjoy most about my job is getting to touch somebody’s life. I sit with somebody
for three or four hours and I’m with them forever. It’s an unbelievable
privilege to be able to work with somebody in that way, and I don’t think a lot of
people have a job like that where they’re gonna touch somebody’s
life forever in a day. That’s the best part about it.

48 thoughts on “The Art of Ink: Neo Traditional

  1. Just watched your Polka Style video, loved it, so informative. New subscriber. Quite fancy this now as a sleeve… ! Where are you based ?

  2. 6:07 – That is sooooo much stencil stuff…. are you doing a backpiece??
    6:43 – why aren't you wearing gloves?!?

  3. I would never guess that Todd Noble would say that he's a neo traditional style tattooer. Joes tattoos certainly has a lot of extra effects and tricks going on and that's what I think of when I think neo traditional.

  4. Classic traditional still looks better overtime and ages better. Side by side a full body suit classic style compared to neotrad is by far superior. Todd Noble does it best when it comes to doing neotrad but still has the classic bold look.

  5. Too bad this style doesn't have the longevity that traditional has… downside of fine linework, is it doesn't stand the test of time..

  6. Ok maybe I'm an idiot but like 90% of the tattoos in this vid I didn't see ANY difference from traditional tattoos. Can someone please explain to me the difference? Since they seem to look exactly the same to me.

  7. After a few bad Tattoos and looking at people walking around with shit that looks like a photo on them and paying enough to buy a used car.ย  I have always wanted Classic Traditional this is the type of ink I will have from here on. Of course the kids coming up will always talk shit. I wish Iย was as smart as I was when I were young Haha.

  8. Awesome exploration! … Check out some of my Neo-traditional art! Thank You! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Wow you Guy's are really trying too get that tip your Artist shit goin ! On top of what you charge? Damn what happen to doin your job, a good one at that with bitchin!

  10. 99.9% of people really don't care about this stuff that's why you have documentaries like this where its the blind leading the blind

  11. For everyone saying Neo Traditional doesn't hold as well as Traditional, or Pike style if you must, then look up Lus Lips.

  12. My favorite art style. The clean linework of old school mixed with brighter colors and a more realistic image just marries together real well IMO.

  13. This video would be worlds better with side by side examples of what takes a design from american traditional and transitions it to neo-traditional. Show the viewer what is really being changed from line weight, shading, color, and subject matter.

  14. Traditional is so faux tough. Its for hipsters and really boring. To each his own but damn it's awful. Each traditional tattoo should come with beard cream.

  15. My artist mixes Japanese traditional with neo traditional kind of and she creates some fucking awesome work

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