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The Complete Guide to Neo-Traditional Tattoos

If you’re looking for a tattoo that boasts strong black outlines and bright, beautifully saturated colors that fall within a unique color scheme, then a Neo-traditional tattoo is the style for you! This style is built upon the foundation of American Traditional tattoos, which were arguably the original style of modern tattoo. American Traditionalism also utilizes a limited color palette including red, blue, yellow, and black, among a few other basic colors while often depicting images like anchors, skulls, and eagles.

However, Neo-traditionalism breaks away from the small color palette of American Traditionalism with imagery that is far less limited. The bold saturated colors and solid black outlines remain, though, which gives Neo-traditionalist tattoos the feel that they are the evolution of the original American traditional tattoo. In this guide, we will aim to inspire you to get new ink by exploring different Neo-traditional design ideas and answering some frequently asked questions surrounding the style.

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Popular Neo-Traditionalist Ideas:

More than just a trend, Neo-traditional tattoos have depicted a large variety of different subjects and are open to new designs as well. Amongst the list of popular ideas in the style include:


The rich, saturated colors from a limited palette of your choice, which are a staple of Neo-traditionalism, can depict flowers in a gorgeous, eye-catching manner. Just as in real life, the deep colors of the tattoo make the flower utterly astonishing. The thick outline and depth that is created within the Neo-traditional style make flowers look surreal, art that people will stare at in amazement.

Portraits of Women

A staple in the original American Traditional tattoos, portraits of women are also quite popular in the Neo-traditional world. The rich color saturation and bold black lines allow the portraits to stand out on the body. Sometimes these designs of women call upon themes from other styles like Japanese or Eastern European.


A variety of animals have been depicted in the Neo-traditional style to wild success. Again, the thick black lines and bold colors make any creature have life on the skin. A good artist will create the fantastic depth and feel that creates a product unlike anything else.


Skulls are an absolute classic for Neo-traditional tattoos as well as the tattoo world in general. This can be attributed to the recognizable, intimate nature of skull imagery and the potential for a skull to be well depicted through various styles. The dark outlines, saturated colors, and depth that distinguish Neo-traditional from other styles combine to create awesome skulls.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Influences for Neo-traditional tattoos?

As previously mentioned, the Neo-traditional tattoo style is built upon the foundation of American traditional tattooing with its bold outlines and full saturation of color. But beyond the foundation, the Neo-traditional style was shaped by the art style known as Art Nouveau, which flourished in the late 1800s in Europe and the United States. Art Nouveau is characterized by curved lines that are often pulled from flowers and other nature. This style was heavily influenced by eastern art including art out of Japan and was often used for interior design and architecture of the time.

Can I Mix Tattoo Styles?

This question comes up somewhat often in the tattoo world and up until recently, you may have received a no. However, as the tattoo industry continues to progress, designs are becoming increasingly more abstract. With this territory comes the ability to be able to combine styles. In this way, one can take their favorite elements from each style to create a truly custom piece. A Neo-traditional foundation of bold lines and saturated color create a great start to any new custom tattoo design.

I Want a Tattoo, but What if I Don’t Have a Good Idea?

This is a dilemma that a lot of people face when approaching a new tattoo. Especially for a style like Neo-traditional, you may not understand the full potential that can be incorporated into your design. Talk to your artist, especially if they have an expertise in your preferred style. You can communicate different objects and themes that you want in your tattoo, then have them splice together your ideas and infuse the specific style into it. Tattoo artists tend to be extremely artistic and passionate about what they do, so give them a chance to use their skills to design you an awesome, one-of-a-kind tattoo for the ages!

Contact the Neo-Traditional Tattoo Experts Today!

To get access to an expert Neo-Traditional tattoo artist, look no further than First Class Tattoo in New York City! With 10 artists that all have their own unique interests and particular expertise, one of our tattooers will be able to create the tattoo of your dreams. Having so many different styles centrally located out of First Class Tattoo, we boast extreme versatility and can guarantee we’ll have an artist for you. Contact us today or go online to start your first class tattoo experience!

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