Traditional Tattoo Artists
American traditional tattoo artists are plentiful, yet each is distinctive and offers something truly unique.
As a tattoo style, American traditional is an instant classic.
It has existed as a popular option for many, many years.
American Traditional Tattoos: A Brief History
Dating back to ancient times, American traditional tattoos have gathered lots of connotations and themes along the way.
In the early 1900s, the style began to take prominence in America where the likes of circus performers, sailors and pirates sported them.
Tattoo design – specifically American traditional – became much more popularized during the Second World War.
America, along with the rest of the world, has never looked back since.
The Aesthetics Of Traditional Tattoos
American traditional tattoo art is a universal concept today which is only reinforced with the variety of tattoo artists who specialize in its striking style.
Its main elements include thick black outlines, a limited colour palette consisting mostly of red, green and yellow.
These colors are used in block, making the tattoo 2D – contrasting with the modern style of dimensional shading.
The tattoo approach is very confident and overt, producing instantly recognizable images.
Some describe American traditional as an excessive and exaggerated version of reality.
American traditional tattoo artists teeter between the concept of reality and surreality, experimenting with these definitions in their art.
Consequently, many American traditional tattoos are seen as highly inventive and original despite being some of the oldest designs.
American traditional tattoos are not aimed to be realistic.
They are, in their own right, pieces of art and drawing.
As an established aesthetic, American traditional tattoos have some specific objects which tend to be depicted in their work.
Common objects and imagery include hearts, birds, daggers, pin-up girls, flowers, skulls and globes.
There is nothing quite as varied and colorful as the American traditional tattoo.
Best Traditional Tattoo Artists
Below is a series of tattoo artists whose work demonstrates some of the best American traditional tattoo art around today.
- Samuele Briganti
Based in Florence, Italy, Samuele Briganti currently serves his mesmerizing American traditional style for customers at his tattoo studio Bold Will Hold.
Full of reds and oranges, Briganti’s art is sizzling and fiery.
Many of his designs capture wild animals in motion, washed with sunset colors and rounded off with smooth outlines.
- Tony BLUEARMS
Tony BLUEARMS is an iconic tattooist based in Oslo, Norway.
Much of his American traditional work is nautical, involving ships and the sea.
He plays with minimal colour and ignites his tattoos with impressive control of lines and shape.
Admirable within the tattoo community, Tony has a book of his art named Lines of Division.
It features some of his best American traditional tattoo work.
- Becca Genne-Bacon
Residing in New York City, Becca Genne-Bacon currently works her magic at Kings Avenue Tattoo.
Bouncing between monochrome and colour, Genne-Bacon’s American traditional tattoos are loyal to their origins, yet her brave approach creates some very individual large scale work.
Her work sits on the very cusp though, where she pushes the conventions of the American traditional style and brings in a contemporary approach.
- Dan Santoro
Dan Santoro is a tattooist from Hawley, Pennsylvania.
As an avid fisher, Santoro integrates this hobby into his American traditional tattoos and focuses on the sea and water creatures especially.
Although some of these fish designs are not traditionally seen in American traditional tattoos, Dan Santoro has masterfully combined the style into it.
As a result, some of the freshest American traditional art can be seen by this tattooist!
- Akira Latanzio
Effortlessly cool and collected, Akira Latanzio can be seen influencing the tattoo community in Brooklyn.
His work appreciates and takes influence from the history of American traditional tattoos.
Latanzio tends to work with classic American traditional images such as women, rose tattoos and devils.
He impressively depicts these in a range of scales and placements.
- Gordon Combs
Currently found in Portland, Oregon at Tattoo Smile, Gordon Combs is a well-respected American traditional tattooist artist.
Tattooing his work all over the body, Combs’ versatility is forever a source of reinvention and brilliance.
From beautifully layered bird wings to roaring tiger tattoos with razor-sharp fans, Gordon Combs injects a wild nature to his American traditional art.
- Chris Fernandez
Tattooing at Kings Avenue Tattoo, Chris Fernandez is an artist based in New York City but was raised in the sunny skies of Miami.
Though he has a talent in a varied amount of styles, Fernandez’s specialism is in creating swirling and bold American traditional tattoo work.
Sometimes his illustration will depict modern takes on the American traditional style, but the old school is always at the center of it all.
- Steve Boltz
Seen as a legend of current-day American traditional tattooing, Steve Boltz is a big name.
His work is predominantly carried out that the Smith Street Tattoo Parlour in Brooklyn.
Lots of his American traditional work is centered around thick-outlined women whose features are reminiscent of pin-up and 50’s style.
Boltz mixes up the images, such as a woman sat on a skull, to create new visions of the genre.
- Dani Queipo
Based in London, England, Dani Queipo is a tattooist who works with color to create beautifully artistic American traditional art.
Queipo currently works at Sang Bleu Tattoo London.
His work is world-renowned for its smooth, perfect execution of traditional images such as women, flowers and hearts.
Dani Queipo is an established and high-quality tattooist in American traditional style.
- Bert Krak
Based in New York City, Bert Krak is part of the group of talented tattooists over at Smith Street Tattoo Parlour.
Bert Krak takes the American traditional tattoo and effortlessly replicates some of the most classic, true-to-history images of the tattoo genre.
Classic approaches are what Krak prefers, and this is evident in his plethora of 40’s-influenced work.
- Danny G
Danny G is an American traditional tattoo artist based in Houston, Texas.
His work varies between black-grey and the usual American traditional colour selection.
Danny G designs gorgeous images of delicate roses, panther headshots and pin-up portraits wrapped seductively in snakes.
His style captures the personality of whatever he is tattooing, creating a curious and thoughtful interpretation of the American traditional tattoo.
- Nicholas Adam
Nicholas Adam prides himself on his American traditional characteristics of bold color and classic imagery.
Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Nicholas Adams can be found at Riverside Tattoo.
Adam especially shows his talent for a steady, clean hand with his large scale American traditional tattoos which are sheer perfection.
- Almagro Tattooer
Full of colorful reds and oranges, Almagro Tattooer is an American traditional tattooist with bundles of pride.
Currently based in the Old Town part of Nicosia, Cyprus, Almagro creates breathtaking American traditional designs at the Ermou St. Tattoo Studio.
Common placements for his pieces are on the hands and feet, exhibiting bold and bright tattoos that are made to be seen.
- Phil DeAngulo
Phil DeAngulo is a famous tattooist based in Brooklyn, whose American traditional style has infiltrated both the tattoo world and mainstream culture.
Working at Allied Tattoo, DeAngulo has garnered a wealth of attention for his daring interpretations of classic images such as the panther tattoos and the snake.
Aside from the usual animal, Phil DeAngulo also tattoos less conventional images of robots, whilst staying loyal to the bold lines and block colour of American traditional tattooing.
- Gaia Leone
Graceful with an attention to detail, Gaia Leone is a tattooist with a careful eye and an experienced approach based in Turin, Italy.
Leone adopts the American traditional style with undeniable respect for its history but mutes down on the harshness of it.
There is a definite legacy in Leone’s style which is both recognized and interpreted in her way.
- Joe Tartarotti
Joe Tartarotti is a tattooist based in Milan, Italy.
Although Tartarotti’s style is undoubtedly American traditional, he has adopted a very unusual, individual approach.
His work can be seen to have added detail, fainter lines of definition between the bold shapes and symmetrical patterns.
As a result, Joe Tartarotti creates American traditional tattoo art with dizzying intricacy.
- Moira Ramone
Residing in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Moira Ramone has perfected the art of American traditional tattooing with her imaginative block color work.
Whilst Ramone enjoys drawing the usual birds and women onto the skin of her clients, she comes alive when there is an extra layer to the story.
Many of her American traditional designs incorporate horror aesthetics and combine several images to create one grand American traditional-meets horror-core tapestry.
- Pablo Lillo
Pablo Lillo is a respected tattooist based in Barcelona, Italy.
Currently tattooing at Black Rose Tattoo, Lillo takes American traditional skulls, women and dragons into his main work.
He enjoys using color to his advantage in its conventional block color use.
However, the color palette is a striking mixture of neon greens and oranges which ignite every piece of art.
- Florian Santus
Coming up to nearly a decade in tattooing, Florian Santus is an experienced tattoo artist based in Paris, France.
He has a flexible approach to American traditional tattooing, offering both black-grey and classic color work.
Santus has produced large scale work on the back of his clients as well as smaller versions as part of an arm or leg sleeve.
Indulging in the sight of a thick black outline, Bobeus is a tattoo artist with American traditional style in his heart (and art).
Bobeus is based in Eindhoven, Netherlands, where he co-owns the studio True Blue Tattoo.
He specializes in creating tattoo spectacles that are uplifting and feel-good.
Consequently, much of his work is sprinkled with swirling lines and color.
- Matt Houston
Based in Vancouver, Canada, tattooist Matt Houston brings back the old school with his series of American traditional tattoo art.
Whilst he incorporates black outlining and bold colours, Houston relishes in the look of darker shades, too.
His tattoos, therefore, are an intriguing take on the American traditional with mysterious and dark connotations.
- Kim-Anh Nguyen
Kim-Anh Nguyen is an American traditional tattooist based in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
Nguyen is praised for her clean, experienced approach to the classic designs of American traditional tattoos.
Having traveled across the globe, Kim-Anh Nguyen has included every symbol of the style in her work and as a result, is a trusted name in the tattoo community.
- Jon FTW
Jon FTW is an Australian tattoo artist based in Brisbane.
His art is full of reds and blues, creating sublime American traditional designs that feel forever fresh.
The likes of cherubs and women are reimagined in a mystical light, yet the artistic approach is American traditional through and through.
His work is truly beautiful.
With a long and lustrous history, American traditional tattoos have a reputation like no other style in the community.
As the next generation of tattoo artists begin their journeys under the mentoring of these talented artists, there is no sign of the style slowing in popularity and innovation.
All of the artists on the list bring a new wave of inspiration that continues to excite the American traditional tattoo scene.