New School Tattoo

New School Tattoos Explained: Origins, Meanings, Tattoo Artists & Photos

A compelling guide to New School tattoos

New School Tattoos

New school tattoos are some of the most easily recognizable tattoos of today.

Known for an experimental design style, new school tattoos are centered around the use of vivid color schemes, bold line-work, and zany subject matter.

New School tattoo design

For people who want to add some ink that draws attention and makes a statement, there is no tattoo style as effective as new school.

Today, we will be exploring the wild world of new school tattoos and taking a look at some of the best new school tattoos.

New school tattoos are known for pushing the boundaries and encapsulating otherwise ordinary subjects in bright color.

This particular tattoo style isn’t for the faint of heart but if you’re a woman who considers yourself a free spirit, you’re sure to find inspiration for your next tattoo here.

Let’s get started!

What is a New School Tattoo?

New school tattoos originated back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, springing to life on the West coast.

Heavily influenced by features of the old school, or American traditional tattoo style, new school tattoos began as a way for tattoo artists to experiment with bolder outlines, more vivid color, and cartoon-ish imagery.

Like old school tattoos, the new school tattoo style utilizes bold line-work and large designs.

Aside from that, new school tattoos are noticeably different from the style that first influenced them.

New school tattoos are also heavily influenced by pop culture.

Many people that choose to get a new school tattoo for themselves are fans of gaming, comic books, and anime.

These subjects blend well with the focus of new school tattoos as they are easily translated into the cartoon-esque visuals that the style is known for.

Although new school tattoos first came onto the scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s, many enthusiasts would argue that the style gained true popularity in the 90’s.

This is arguably due to the fact that cartoons surged in popularity during this era.

While this matter is still up for some debate, it can’t be argued that the 1990’s did play an important role in making the new school style what we know it to be today.

How to Decide on the Best New School Tattoo For You

Whether you’re a gamer girl or simply love the bold, fantastical aesthetic found in new school tattoos, there are a few things to consider when planning a new school tattoo for yourself.

There are many different factors to think about when choosing a new school tattoo design.

By taking the time to ask yourself the important questions, you’ll have a new tattoo you can be proud to show off for many years to come.

Subject Matter

While it is important to have a subject matter in mind when planning any new tattoo, this is especially vital when it comes to the new school tattoo style.

This is because the new school style is centered around pop culture.

New School tattoo design

Regardless of the size or placement of your new school tattoo, it’s sure to draw the eye whenever visible so make sure that your design represents something near and dear to your heart.

The good news is that there are plenty of subjects to choose from!

Any pop culture icon you can think of can be transformed into a stylish new school tattoo.

That being said, the new school tattoo style is the last place to limit yourself.

If you can’t decide on a pop culture reference that you would like to celebrate in your design, work with your tattoo artist to put the new school spin on something less common to the style. 

New School Tattoo Placement

Due to the amount of detail and whimsy associated with new school tattoos, this style usually results in large tattoos.

For this reason, it’s important that you have a good idea of placement when choosing a design.

Make sure to select a part of your body with enough space for your tattoo artist to fully bring your vision to life.

Some of the most popular placements for new school tattoos include the arm, leg, and back.

Color Scheme

This is a big one.

Compared to other popular tattoo styles, new school tattoos hold color scheme in especially high regard.

Few tattoo styles make as much use of bold color as new school does so you’ll want to make sure that your chosen color scheme is something you’ll be proud to wear for many years to come.

Work with your tattoo artist to select the perfect colors for use in your tattoo design.

Keep in mind that new school tattoos are known for being bright, bold, and eye-catching.

If you’re looking for a more subtle color palette, new school tattoos may not be for you.

Your Tattoo Artist

Finally, make choosing your tattoo artist an important step in the process of deciding on the best new school tattoo for you.

New school tattoos are difficult to get just right and tattoo artists that specialize in this style are in very high demand.

For the best new school tattoo possible, take the time to seek out an artist that specializes in the style.

Once you’ve found the most skilled artist for your new school tattoo, make an effort to approach them with an open mind.

If you have a concept in mind, present it to your tattoo artist with a willingness to take some direction.

Your tattoo artist is an expert in the field and may be able to offer some valuable recommendations that can make your new school tattoo better than you could have ever dreamed.

Where Should You Put Your New School Tattoo?

As one of the biggest decisions to make when getting a tattoo, many people aren’t exactly sure where to start when deciding where to put their new school tattoo.

Due to the vibrant and in-your-face style of a new school tattoo, it’s highly recommended to choose a placement that allows a lot of space for your tattoo artist to work.

New school tattoos are incredibly popular as quarter, half, or even full sleeves.

If you have found yourself considering a tattoo in this style, it is likely that you’ve got a big personality and a sleeve would suit you well.

At the same time, it isn’t entirely uncommon for men and women to get new school tattoos that are slightly smaller in size so no placement is truly off the table.

Work with your tattoo artist to choose a design that best represents your chosen location.

If you’re working the opposite way around and already have a design in mind but need some guidance on placement, your tattoo artist should be able to make some recommendations here as well.

How Much Do New School Tattoos Cost?

As one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to new school tattoos, it’s vital that you have an understanding of how much your new school tattoo will cost.

There are several factors that go into calculating the price of a new school tattoo.

Here are a few of the things you should consider to get an idea of pricing.

Tattoo Artist: As discussed, selecting a tattoo artist is a huge part of planning for a new school tattoo.

While this decision is important for deciding on a new school design, it is also a huge factor in determining how much your tattoo will cost.

As with any tattoo style, you get what you pay for.

It is highly recommended that you take the time to find an artist that specializes in the new school style but it should be noted that this can have an effect on costs as well.

Tattoo artists specializing in new school tattoos are usually in high demand and this can increase their rates as a result.

Design: New school tattoos are full of detail. From colors and shading to style and linework, your new school tattoo is full of moving parts.

For this reason, it is likely that your chosen design will play a big role in how much your tattoo will cost overall.

The longer a tattoo takes to complete, the more expensive it is. This is because tattoo artists charge based on hourly rates.

If you want your new school tattoo to be the best it can possibly be, be ready to pay more for top notch quality.

Location: It isn’t common knowledge that where your tattoo shop is located can actually have a lot to do with how much your tattoo will cost.

Tattoo artists operate on hourly rates and these rates can vary drastically from one area to the next.

Tattoo shops based in big cities are usually more expensive while those located in smaller towns may not charge as much per hour.

Take this into account when planning your new school tattoo.

Time/Size: Finally, the size and amount of time it takes to complete your new school tattoo is a factor to consider when calculating costs.

The bold use of color and intricate linework associated with a new school tattoo takes time and attention to detail so you may be in store for a longer period of time in the chair. 

New School Tattoo Designs

Now that you know all there is to know about new school tattoos for, you should take some time to look at examples.

Animal New School Tattoo Designs

Animals are a very popular subject for some of the most impressive new school tattoos.

When making your favorite animal the focus of your new school tattoo, you have the opportunity to transform it into the perfect representation of everything you love about it.

Some of the most popular animals represented by new school tattoos are owls, rabbits, and fish as these animals allow the most room for bold color choices.

Tiger Tattoos

New School Tiger Tattoo
New School Tiger Tattoo

Eagle Tattoos

New School Eagle Tattoo

Lion Tattoos

New School Lion Tattoo

Bear Tattoos

New School Bear Tattoo

Panther Tattoos

New School Panther Tattoo

Hummingbird Tattoos

New School Hummingbird Tattoo

Wolf Tattoos

New School Wolf Tattoo

Snake Tattoos

New School Snake Tattoo

Cat Tattoos

New School Cat Tattoo

Elephant Head Tattoos

New School Elephant Head Tattoo

Video Game Inspired New School Tattoos

As mentioned, pop culture is a huge inspiration for new school tattoos.

If you consider yourself a gamer and want to show off your love for a particular franchise, a video game inspired new school tattoo is perfect for you.

Popular video game characters are great subjects for this style and can be brought to life in unique and creative ways in the form of a tattoo.

Anime New School Tattoo Designs

Anime is an artform in itself and Japanese cartoon style pairs perfectly with the new school tattoo style.

Choose a character from your favorite show or manga and work with your tattoo artist to represent all of their best qualities.

Anime new school tattoos are wildly popular and it only takes a single look at these exceptional designs to see why.

Nautical New School Tattoo Designs

Lighthouse Tattoos

New School Lighthouse Tattoo

Blue Marlin Tattoos

New School Marlin Tattoo

Compass Tattoos

New School Compass Tattoo

Octopus Tattoos

New School Octopus Tattoo

Jellyfish Tattoos

New School Jellyfish Tattoo

New School Japanese Tattoo Designs

Kappa Tattoos

New School Kappa Tattoo

Baku Tattoos

New School Baku Tattoo

Fudo Myoo Tattoos

New School Fudo Myoo Tattoo

Garuda Tattoos

New School Garuda Tattoo

Geisha Tattoos

New School Geisha Tattoo

Kabuto Tattoos

New School Kabuto Tattoo

Kitsune Tattoos

New School Kitsune Tattoo

Koi Fish Tattoos

New School Koi Fish Tattoo

Kokeshi Doll Tattoos

New School Kokeshi Doll Tattoo

Foo Dog Tattoos

New School Foo Dog Tattoo

Lucky Cat Tattoos

Lucky Cat Tattoo

Severed Head Tattoos

New School Severed Head Tattoo

Oni Mask Tattoos

New School Oni Mask Tattoo

Samurai Crab Tattoos

New School Samurai Crab Tattoo

Tanuki Tattoos

New School Tanuki Tattoo

Tengu Mask Tattoos

New School Tengu Mask Tattoo

New School Celtic Tattoo Designs

Leprechaun Tattoos

New School Leprechaun Tattoo
New School Leprechaun Tattoo

Samhain Tattoos

New School Samhain Tattoo

New School Floral Tattoo Designs

Rose Tattoos

New School Rose Tattoo

Sunflower Tattoos

New School Sunflower Tattoo

Peony Tattoos

New School Peony Tattoo

New School Horror Tattoo Designs

Skull Tattoos

New School Skull Tattoo
New School Skull Tattoo

Jason Voorhees Tattoos

New School Jason Voorhees Tattoo
New School Jason Voorhees Tattoo

Plague Doctor Tattoos

New School Plague Doctor Tattoo

Evil Clown Tattoos

New School Clown Tattoo

Bird Skull Tattoos

New School Bird Skull Tattoo

Egyptian New School Tattoo Designs

Anubis Tattoos

New School Anubis Tattoo

Bastet Tattoos

New School Bastet Tattoo

Other Egyptian Tattoos

New School Egyptian Tattoo
New School Egyptian Tattoo
New School Egyptian Tattoo

Greek New School Tattoo Designs

Medusa Tattoos

New School Medusa Tattoo

Phoenix Tattoos

New School Phoenix Tattoo

Other New School Tattoo Designs

Kali Tattoos

New School Kali Tattoo
New School Kali Tattoo

Sugar Skull Tattoos

New School Sugar Skull Tattoo

Hourglass Tattoos

New School Hourglass Tattoo

New School Tattoo Artists We Like

Not sure where to start in your search for the perfect new school tattoo artist? Here are some of the best artists working in the style today.

Lilian Raya

Lilian has only been tattooing since 2016, but she already has the skilled hands of an accomplished master.

Her new school ink is sure to catch your eye- each piece is packed with an impressive array of saturated colors, blended so beautifully you’d think you were looking at a living comic book.

Lilian is based in Mexico City, but definitely has a flair for Kawaii style.

The go-to gal for pastel goths and people who like their darkness with a side of cute, she favors female characters, villains and exotic animals.

Common Themes

Lilian’s pieces have something of a “glossy” look to them and generally include large faces, sparkling jewels, stylized anime characters and references to astrology.

There’s something so magical about a Lilian Raya tattoo: it’s hard to believe it’s real.

Perfect for a day dreamer who has never grown out of playing make believe.

Laura Annunaki

Laura is also of Mexican descent, but travels all over the world for her art.

She is currently booking appointments in Osaka and Tokyo, where Kawaii culture is king and her girly new school tattoos will fit right in.

Though she had always been an artist, Laura’s journey as a tattoo artist began in 2015 when she was having trouble finding tattoo artists who could do the kind of art she wanted to have on her body.

Though she is constantly working on her technique, she never wants to do stock art or leave her personal stamp out of her designs.

Laura’s tattoos are signature to Laura, and with 441k followers on Instagram and counting, there are plenty of people who are OK with that.

Common Themes

A self described glitter enthusiast, Laura’s pieces generally include at least sparkle or two.

She favors empowered female characters and a mix of dark, romantic, and cute.

Her pieces are perfect for someone who grew up sighing over epic romances like Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask.

She embraces traditional femininity but puts her own spin on it.

Jesse Smith

A fan favorite from Ink Master, Jesse Smith left his mark on the competition in Season 2 with his quirky new school style.

Though he was eliminated from the show, he returned in Season 7 having refined his skills and become an even better artist.

While his signature style will always be new school, he worked on his portraiture skills specifically to redeem his failures on the show.

Jesse Smith owns his own shop, Loose Screw Tattoo, in Richmond Virginia.

His interesting style may come from the fact that he’s a citizen of the world. As an army brat, Jesse has lived everywhere.

He first developed an appreciation for tattoo art while living in Germany, then traveled home to the states to study art at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Compared to the Kawaii artists above, Jesse’s colors have a slightly muted, almost watercolor look.

You can see his sense of humor in the characters he creates, they have a twisted sensibility to them that seems informed by cartoons like Ren & Stimpy, Animaniacs or Invader Zim.

Common Themes

Jesse creates a lot of quirky critters with large, expressive eyes and exaggerated expressions in his work.

His creatures have an adorable yet frightening quality, and the tension makes for such interesting art.

Perfect for those 90’s kids who grew up on quirky humor and strange characters.

Kike Esteras (@)

Based out of his own tattoo shop, Gold St. Tattoo Parlour in Barcelona, Kike blends themes from neo-traditional and new school designs to create his very own signature style.

After tattooing for about a decade, Kike has his signature style on lock.

His color saturation is so smooth, you can zoom right in on it and never see a flaw.

Kike’s lines are less bulbous and exaggerated than some other artists in the style.

He keeps everything smooth, but a little more contained.

With bold black outlines and an impressive play between light and shadow, Kike’s pieces almost resemble stained glass.

Common Themes

There is a lot of esoteric and religious symbolism in his work.

He does a lot of rose tattoos, skull tattoos, swords and sacred hearts.

Kike Esteras is a nice medium for a woman who wants a new school tattoo, but doesn’t want it to be too on the cartoony side.

There is a lovely restraint shown in these pieces that can be a nice option for less ostentatious people.

Alex Strangler

Based out of Las Vegas, Alex Strangler famously tattooed a Hello Kitty design on Katy Perry’s middle finger.

Alex works in this interesting style that’s been emerging on Instagram- a mix between traditional tattoos, new school designs, and millennial Tumblr humor.

Her whimsical pieces have an inherent wit- highlighting feminist cartoon characters like Daria and Lisa Simpson.

While Alex Strangler’s pieces are not large, bulbous and exaggerated like many new school tattoos, the sensibility of the style is there.

If you aren’t interested in getting inked but still want to embrace the style, she sells her original designs on t-shirts.

Her most popular drawings at the moment are a mash-up between Beavis and Butthead and Disney Princesses.

Doesn’t that perfectly sum up the wry, nostalgic, meme-based pop culture of our time?

Common Themes

As with most new school tattoo artists, in Alex’s work pop culture reigns supreme.

The majority of her pieces hark back to MTV in the 90’s.

New School Tattoos Ideas

There are a countless number of new school tattoos available online to give you some inspiration.

We’ve compiled a list of a few of the best new school tattoo designs.

Take a look!

Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her calf
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her calf
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her arm
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her leg
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her thigh
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her forearm
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her calf
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her leg
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her shoulder
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her leg
Woman wearing a New School owl tattoo on her leg
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her thigh
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her arm
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her thigh
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her leg
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her leg
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her forearm
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her arm
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her calf
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her biceps
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her arm
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her foot
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her thigh
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her forearm
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her thigh
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her leg
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her forearm
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her thigh
Woman wearing two New School tattoos on her legs
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her arm
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her arm
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her arm
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her calf
Woman wearing a New School tattoo on her thigh

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