New School Tattoos

By @kulutureshockstudio

We know, your skin is itching to get some new tattoos done before summer is here so that they can heal in time to show them off (by then, we should all be more social again, right?). So let’s keep the inspiration going. If you look through this blog, you will find a ton of guides to different styles. This time, we are highlighting the hard-to-miss New School. 

Vibrant, bold, and playful

One of the trends to emerge on the other side of a crisis is usually big, vibrant, and bold. The roaring 1920s showed just how much we crave a good party on the other end of difficult times. As such, New School is the perfect style to celebrate the hard-won realisation that life is short and that we should embrace its sparkle and childlike playfulness while we can. 

The style was inspired by late 20th-century pop-culture such as video games, comic books, cartoons, anime and manga. While it draws on Old School with bold black outlines, it is characterised and instantly recognisable by its intensely vivid, often fluorescent-type colours and exaggerated imagery. 

Gaming culture and anime

By @stefansalamone

New School tattooing has several different origin stories. One says that it arose in California in the 1970s, as customers began requesting motives from Disney films, the Star Trek series, and other pop-culture phenomena. Others say it emerged in the 1980s, when video gaming culture took off for real, along with the development of ink that could hold the bright and intense pigments. Hardliners would say New School is a child of the 90s. As with most trends in tattooing, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact moment of departure, and there is probably some truth to all of these versions. 

They can be influenced by aesthetics from Neo Trad – Art Nouveau and traditional Japanese block-prints. But it also features motives such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Simpsons, the Cheshire cat, Disney lions, and trippy Carebears. Traditional Japanese influences in the form of psychedelic versions of koi fish, samurai, folk-lore creatures, but also more modern inspiration in the form of manga characters and Pokemon abound.

By @goditattoo

The impact of all these motives became more prevalent in Western culture overall with the advent of cable TV and, of course, the Internet, which makes New School tattooing as much a child of the times as its name would imply. If only the old Irezumi masters could have guessed… 

Devoted fan-base

There is often a specific affinity within the New School tattoo community, and many artists specialise entirely in the style. As with many of the pop-cultural phenomena it depicts and from where it draws its inspirations, the fan-base is very devoted. However, many artists blend the style’s strong aesthetic with other influences, such as Neo Trad or Realism, to create unique signature styles of their own.