Tattooing has been with mankind for centuries. It's thought that tattooing began as far back as 6000 years ago. Although this is an interesting fact, of more concern to anyone considering a tattoo today is the emergence of New School tattooing. Just what is new school tattooing and how is it different than old school tattooing?
Before we can understand new school tattooing, we first must define what old school tattooing is. As mentioned earlier, tattooing began a long time ago, however the tools and methods used for tattooing were primitive. Modern tattooing did not emerge from the dark ages until the early part of the 20th century. Once good ole Tom Edison invented the electric engraving machine the birth of modern tattooing got underway. During the early 1900's traveling Circus entertainers began tattooing their bodies to create the circus freak show attraction known as the tattooed man. This was the first introduction of tattooing to large groups of civilized people. As time went on tattooing became accepted by sailors, outlaws, criminals, and others considered as patrons of the low side of life.
The art in those early days was simple and centered on single item imagery like flowers, animals, cartoon characters, crosses, hearts, knives, skulls, etc. There was of course artistic talent applied to the single item imagery and tattoos became quite elaborate and artful. This style is of a flatter or one dimensional nature and uses red, green, golden yellow and a lot of black as the only colors. Old School tattooist for the most part were shunned and repressed by the public and their craft revolved around mean concepts and attitudes, dark colors, heavy shading and surly kinds of people.
Somewhere around the late seventies, early eighties, a new movement in tattooing began. With the advent of better tattooing guns, the creation of better ink with more colors, and the enforcement of standards for cleaner, safer tattooing practices, a new attitude was beginning within the public and amongst tattooing artist. Young upstart tattoo artists, not knowing the ways of old, were beginning to bring a different style of tattooing to the public. The new, younger tattoo artists aided by better ink & equipment began combining the old tradition of tattooing with their personal style in a fashion that is now considered to be New School Tattooing.
New School Tattoos
New School tattooing is a brighter, lighter, friendlier style of tattooing. It's bubbly, realistic, beautiful, and at times almost obnoxious. But that's what makes it what it is, proud, lighthearted, colorful, and artistic in a much more elaborate way. Another aspect of new school tattooing is that it takes on a 2 or 3 dimensional look while old school tattooing tends to be flat or 1 dimensional.
The modern tattooing style seems to have no set boundary and in many cases people are doing nontraditional tattooing (New School) unwittingly. Tattoos of today combine many of the old school styles with artistic creativeness that simply did not exist 30 years ago. It's not unusual to see Tribal and Oriental tattoos intermixed, or flat tattooing with fine line designs overlaying each other. In fact new school tattooing is not clear cut in its appearance. What you or I may consider to be new school tattooing may be considered to be neotraditional or old school by others. However you see it, new school tattooing is a dramatic departure from traditional tattooing.