My Favorite Styles of Ink

Every artist has a style that they are most comfortable with and is their preferred medium. Makes sense, right? I would rather not put a drawing permanently on somebody in a style I suck at. Some people get so well known for their work in a particular style, they are able to focus on it exclusively, honing their skills and charging a premium rate. How great does that sound? I have not picked up a tattoo machine yet, but I am practicing various styles to create a portfolio that shows I am a versatile artist. And to be honest, I could use the practice. I would much rather experiment with pencil and paper instead of on someone’s skin, you know? Yeah, sorry, not sure how to draw lotus flowers yet, whoops!

I think my favorite style is American Traditional. I just love the colors and the style. The clipper ships, in particular, amaze me. I would love to be able to draw those well enough to do Sailor Jerry proud. Did you know he made them nautically accurate? Talk about putting pride into your work! I like the fact that this style has themes and rules but that there is a lot you can do within those constraints. The history and pride within traditional American tattoos are something I never get tired of researching. This style of tattoo in the States is equivalent to cave paintings in the art world. This is where it started, and everything else from artists here comes from that imagery. Once I am finally in an apprenticeship, I am really going to hit these hard. It will definitely get my outlining work in shape in no time!

My second favorite style has got to be New School. I love that basically anything goes in this style and you can be as wacky with the color scheme and image as the client will let you. It’s a cross between so many different styles that it can almost be hard to pull off. I’ve been drawing boardwalk-style caricatures of people and animals to learn the exaggerated proportions that set this style apart from others. My drawings so far have been pretty goofy looking, but that is kind of the point. It definitely has made studying color theory less boring, since I am learning a lot about what colors go together and which are gonna look terrible. It can only help me improve, right?

The last style that I have been practicing is photorealism. Let me tell you, that stuff is HARD. It’s really obvious when you make a mistake. I’ve started with flowers. I sit down with a reference photo and try my best to replicate the image I see as far as lines, colors, and shading. It has been slow going and a huge challenge but I think this is something that is very important to get right. From here I will move up to animals, which are a little more complex, and then people. This will help me when it comes time to practice the one I am dreading: portraits. That’s one that you really CANNOT screw up, right? If somebody cares enough to get someone immortalized on their skin, the least I can do is make it look like that person. Yeah. I would much rather draw Japanese dragons for the rest of my life (hahahanot really. I am still tracing that stuff. I have no ability to understand the anatomy of them yet, very possibly because they are not real) than mess up a portrait tattoo.

So that’s basically what I do all day long. Practice, practice, practice. My parents would be impressed with my diligence if they didn’t think this was such a bad idea in the first place.