Neo Traditional Tattooing

Tattooing is an art form that is very much based on traditions, with each distinct style having a set of unwritten rules that all tattoo artists try to adhere to. That said, there are some who look to expand those traditions by adding something new, and one area where that has really taken over in is the traditional American tattoo. This style of tattooing may, on the face of it, seem pretty basic, as there are limits to the colors that can be used, as well as the images that are commonly inked. The reality is, though, that American traditional tattoos tends to be one of the tougher styles for new artists to adopt.
Before we talk about the neo-traditional style, let’s take a moment to recap what traditional tattoos are all about. In traditional tattoos, there is generally always a patriotic theme, with the most common symbols being the American flag, eagles, ships, pin-up girls, and a few others. These types of tattoos feature very bold outlines, and a minimal use of color. Those colors were yellow, green, red, blue, and brown, and it was traditionally members of the services, particularly the navy, who would be inked in this specific style.
Strangely enough, traditional tattoos were pretty far from being custom or unique, and were usually just standard flash pieces found in just about every tattoo shop in the United States. This was not about getting a one of a kind piece to show off to the world, but rather a little slice of Americana that would remind the person with the tattoo of their homeland. It is perhaps for that reason that the traditional American tattoo has remained so timeless, but the neo-traditional style shakes things up a little, whilst still having a look that is recognizable to those who love traditional tattoos.
With a neo-traditional tattoo, you are going to find a lot of the same elements that you would with a traditional tattoo, albeit with some subtle differences. The color palette has been greatly expanded in the ne-traditional style, as have the symbols commonly used. As well as the subject matter that we mentioned earlier, you will now also find that candles, coffins, diamonds, and more have been added into the mix. The fact that the basic structure of the tattoo remains the same as the traditional method is a sign that the artists who are going the neo-traditional route are doing so whilst still paying homage to the American traditional form of tattooing.
One thing to mention before we close out those piece is that you should not confuse neo-traditional with new school, as these are two very different tattoo styles. New school tattoos are about as far from traditional as you can get, as they feature big, bold colors, and subjects that almost look like caricatures or cartoon characters. This is a style that bears no resemblance at all to traditional tattoo’s, so be sure to ask for the proper style when you talk to you artist about designs.