Joseph Gray Professor Reina Whaitiri May 03, 2005 Evolution of a Masterpiece

“You may lose your most valuable property through misfortune in various ways. You may lose your house, your wife and other treasures. But of your moko, you cannot be deprived except by death. It will be your ornament and companion until your last day.” ~Netana Whakaari. Tattoos have many names such as moko in Maori, tatouage in French or horimono in Japanese. The concept of creating images and permanently burning, scarring, or inking onto one’s body is older than most civilizations. Records show that one of the oldest tattoos discovered belongs to a mummy found in 1991. This mummy was carbon-dated and found to be over 5000 years old from the Bronze Age. The popularity of tattoos can be traced into ancient Egypt around 2000 BC where wall paintings have indicated the use of tattoos in Egyptian society. Jumping forward into a more recent era such as the 18th Century, and find the Edo period in Japan. Japanese also have their type of traditional tattooing, horimono. Progressing forward you finally arrive in the present day where there is a new movement termed new school. New school is an amalgamation of techniques and artistry concepts rolled into one tattoo artist. While there are many artists around the country that can be seen as great or creative, however, focus will be given to a local artist who is paving the way for many new generations of tattoo artists through his use of new school techniques.


Libra, one of the more popular tattoo artists around the state, began his career in popular tattoo shops such as 808 Tattoo and Gunpoint Tattoo. Being schooled by such legends as Billy Whitney, Zeke Owens, and Josh Reed, Libra began “a natural progression through urban art through the influence of every mural and painting in the world of tattooing.” (Libra, par. 1) With his career progressing fast and absorbing much knowledge he began to change his style of tattooing. New school tattooing “refers to tattoos that are bold, bright and in-your-face. These are more contemporary and fantastical designs and are a favorite of many younger artists looking for a challenge.” (Hudson) Libra had a different take on what new school is and how this movement began. According to Libra: The term new school is a little broad, but makes a lot of sense. Tattoo artists' over the years have honed their skills and techniques to manipulate skin into brain boggling masterpieces. When westernized tattooing began to surface socially, you were either labeled a criminal or a sailor, neither of which received much respect in communities. Designs were very simple, hearts, eagles, anchors, swallows, nautical stars, pin up girls, hot rod flames etc. The pigments available at the time were also limited to a shallow selection. Basically the primary colors were the most used by tattooists until the early 80's. Green, red, yellow, blue, brown and of course black. Artists all over the world were experimenting with mixing their own powdered pigments to create different tones that would change the world of tattooing. Among tattoo artists, there is the knowledge that the art of tattooing has created a schism between tattoo artists who prefer the more traditional tattooing methods and styles


versus artists who, like Libra, consider themselves to be new school tattoo artists. As Libra had stated, the old school method of tattooing can appear to be plain and too simple for the younger generations looking to stand out. The line between those who favor the old school method and those who prefer to tattoo with the new school method is obvious to the trained professional. Old school artists have the need to keep the tattoo on the twodimensional plane because they are keeping true to their trade. Those who are new school artists such as Libra strive to bring the tattoo into the third dimension and therefore making the tattoos stand out even more than a simple two-dimensional heart or cross. Elaborate designs are favorites of many in the younger generations because of their impressive designs and flashy appearance. Recently there has been a movement to blur the line that is so clearly drawn between the old school artists and the new school artists. A website on Las Vegas Tattooing has stated, “Old School Vegas designs are back in style, and New School artists are incorporating them with colors and patterns designed to compete with the garish beauty of the strip.”(Las Vegas Tattoos) The style of using old school designs and bringing them to life with new school methods is not a new concept. Personalized designs such as a name or kanji have been brought to life using both old school and new school methods. According to Libra however, most tattoo artists prefer to use the techniques that they are skilled in and have used before. The new school method of tattooing has begun a movement across the nation and has found itself in many tattoo shops. Online research has found many shops that offer specific types of new school tattoos and designs. With the new school movement


spreading quickly, the older method of tattooing may soon be overshadowed and forgotten.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.