What Are the Design Aspects of Neo-Traditional Tattoos?

What Are the Design Aspects of Neo-Traditional Tattoos?

Feb 08, 2022 | Blayne Meszko

Neo-traditional tattoos are one of the most popular styles of tattoos today. Do you know what the aspects of neo-traditional tattoos are and how this tattoo style differs from others? HUSH has the answers to all of your questions and more right here.

What Are the Characteristics of Neo-Traditional Tattoos?

Neo-traditional tattoo designs feature bold, dark outlines and illustrative looks. There is a feeling of subtle dimension and the use of saturated colors. This dimension is not a 3D type of tattoo, yet they contain lines that vary in weight. This style of tattoo art consists of an illustrated look. They expand on the traditional American tattoo style by providing a broader color palette and depth and dimension. If you’re a fan of statement ink, this style might be just what you need. Neo-traditional tattoos are generally larger, and are perfect for covering the arm, leg, or torso areas because their brighter colors make a statement. This tattoo style is often mistaken for “new school” tattoos, but we’ll explain more about that later, so stick around!

What Are the Types of Neo-Traditional Tattoos?

The neo-traditional style depicts many subjects, especially portraits, flowers, and animals. These subjects are adorned with decorative tattoo accessories like beads, pearls, vines, lines, and flowers. The more decor, the better. Are we right, or are we right? Images of women and predatory animals (eagles, bears, wolves, snakes) are particularly popular with this tattoo style. Neo-traditional tattoos are popular everywhere, from the coast of California to the bustling streets of El Paso. Each of these tattoos is unique, with each artist adding their own twist to the design.

What’s the Difference Between Neo-Traditional and American Traditional Tattoos?

American-traditional tattoos were made famous in the 1930s by sailors and circus performers (we know, that’s a pretty vast spread). Their 2D styles are drenched in saturated colors of red, black, green, and yellow. Both the neo-traditional and American-traditional tattoo types contain bold outlines and vivid colors, but there are key differences to note. Here is a list of the most notable differences between neo-traditional and American-traditional tattoos:
  • Line Weight: Neo-traditional tattoos contain variations in line weight. American- traditional tattoo lines are consistent in width around their design.
  • Subject Matter: Neo-traditional tattoos are more varied in subject matter than American-traditional. They modernize classic themes and include items like flowers, plants, animals, and even people. American-traditional tattoos are more masculine, containing artwork of daggers, snarling animals, and beautiful women. Neo-traditional puts a twist on this and includes artwork depicting pop culture icons, hobbies, family members, and even pets.
  • Colors: Neo-traditional tattoo colors contain a more complex color palette (jewel tones), often using color gradients. The American-traditional style tattoos utilize ink in the colors black, red, yellow, green. Both tattoos types use dense and vibrant color saturation.
  • Dimension: Neo-traditional tattoos contain shaded dimensions that pop out and recede, whereas American-traditional tattoos are solely two-dimensional.
  • Shading- Neo-traditional tattoos contain black shading and white highlights, creating a realistic bold appearance. American-traditional tattoos look flat with minimal pepper-shading, giving them a less true-to-life appearance than their counterpart. This key difference is pretty black and white (see what we did there?).

What’s the Difference Between Neo-Traditional & New School Tattoos?

New school tattoos became popular in the 80s and 90s. They are bold and bright tattoos with over-the-top style, containing pop culture elements and graffiti. Neo-traditional and new school tattoos are very similar, so they’re difficult to tell apart; however, each has distinguishing features. Here are a few differences:
  • Dimension: Neo-traditional tattoos have minimal shading, while new school tattoos contain a lot of depth with a 3D effect.
  • Color: Neo-traditional tattoos use jewel-tone colors and wall-to-wall saturation, while new school tattoos have no boundaries in their vibrant color palette. New school tattoos use modern colors and neon pigments in their cartoonish appearance. They like to let loose.
  • Style: Neo-traditional tattoos lean toward traditional designs such as portraits, plants, and flowers. Anything goes with the animated aesthetic of new school tattoos, including bold and bright graffiti-like and cartoonish characteristics. Their proportions are generally realistic, but the tattoo has an illustrative caricature effect (big eyes, full lips, and animated electric designs… you know the drill).

What Does Neo-Traditional Mean?

The word “neo-traditional” means that this style is an evolution of American-traditional tattoos, making the style more contemporary. It adds new elements and influences to the original traditional style. Neo-traditional tattoos use diverse imagery and more advanced techniques to modernize the American traditional tattoo. Tattoos contain significant meaning to the wearer, in addition to showcasing vivid designs and attention to detail. There are many types of tattoo designs, each providing a personalized piece of art for the individual.

How Did Neo-Traditional Tattoos Evolve?

Neo-traditional tattoos evolved in the 1980s when tattoos rose once again in popularity. This updated tattoo style contained Native American and military elements, with the influence of art nouveau and Japanese art. Neo-traditional tattoos became effortlessly vibrant and nuanced at this time due to advances in tattoo technology. Today, neo-traditional tattoos are one of the most popular tattoo styles available.

Is a Neo-Traditional Tattoo Right For Me?

If you like bold colors and lots of detail and decoration in your tattoo, then a neo-traditional tattoo may be right for you. Choose your artist carefully, and select a design you love. Look at the artist’s previous work to ensure their artwork matches the style you seek… or else.

How To Choose a Neo-Traditional Tattoo Design

Here are a few things to ask yourself before getting that ink. These questions may help you decide whether or not you should get a tattoo.
  1. Why do you want a tattoo? Do you want to remember a particular person or event, or do you want something unique? Let the reason for your tattoo guide the design itself.
  2. Where do you want the ink? Think about your day-to-day life. Do you want the ink to be visible, or does it need to be hidden?
  3. Does it make you happy? Are you getting the tattoo for yourself, or are you just trying to match with a partner or group?
  4. Snag some inspiration. Whether it is your favorite cartoon, sci-fi movie, or superhero, keep a journal with images and designs that catch your eye. The more inspo you have, the easier it will be to choose the final design.
  5. Look ahead. Think about whether or not you’ll love the design ten years from now. Choose a timeless piece that will grow with you through the years.
If you’ve never set foot in a tattoo parlor before, it may seem like a daunting task to decide on a design. The goal is to have your tattoo forever, so choosing the right one is crucial.

How To Choose a Tattoo Artist

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when choosing an artist:
  • Read reviews and comments, and look at the artist’s previous work. Customers’ reviews and comments are a fantastic way to find the pros and cons of an artist or tattoo studio. Websites and social media are other good ways to see tattoo designs and find an artist whose work you like.
  • Meet the artist before the day of the tattoo to make sure you feel comfortable around that person. Depending on the scope of the piece you decide on, you may be with that person for extended periods over many sessions. Take the time to talk to the artist before scheduling your first session.
  • Go to a tattoo convention to learn more about the local tattoo community. Many tattoo artists attend these conventions, answer questions, and give consultations. You can even get a tattoo at these conventions.
  • Ask questions. Are you vegan? Ask if they use vegan ink and supplies. What types of tattoo numbing supplies and cleansers do they use? What are the disinfection practices of the studio? Does the studio and artist practice safe hygiene? There are many questions you should ask before getting your tattoo. The more you know beforehand, the more at ease you’ll be during your tattoo session.
Ask your friends and family members for the best tattoo artist. Think of a tattoo artist like you would your hairdresser. You wouldn’t let just anyone cut or color your hair, would you? If the sheer thought of doing so sends shivers down your spine, we get it.

To Sum It Up

Neo-traditional tattoos are modernized pieces meant to add saturated color and bold designs to any skin tone. Though they’ve been around since the 80s, they are still prevalent today. HUSH tattoo numbing and aftercare products take the guesswork out of tattoo prep and care in easy-to-use steps. Enjoy the process while the art happens. Our blended topical anesthetic formulations contain botanicals like chamomile, aloe, and green tea. Allow HUSH to play a role in your tattoo story while you relax and let the neo-traditional take over some much-deserved real estate. Sources: Neo-Traditional Tattoos | TattMag 75 Killer New School Tattoos by Some of the World's Best Artists | Inked Mag How to Choose a Tattoo Artist | LoveToKnow