Inspirational and Historical Artists (From Sailor Jerry to Nikko Hurtado)

This week I went searching for some inspiration!! How do you create tattoo art? What makes tattooists different from artists? How do you find your style? So, like any good research, before you move forward it’s important to look back at what came before you in order to move forward.

The Beginnings and the Pioneers of American Traditional Tattoo 

So- I watched a couple of documetaries. The first was on Norman K. Collin’s better known as “Sailor Jerry”! Yep the rum is named after one of the most important tattoo artists of all time. He was a master in the early years of tattoo and perhaps the founder of the modern Traditional American tattoo style. If you have time it’s worth watching the documentary.

Here is the trailer for “Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry: The Life of Norman K.Collins”

**Warning this preview contains some language and mature content**

The other traditional tattoo artist that is worth looking into is Don Ed Hardy. The documentary “Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World” is a biography about the tattoo artist who you may know from a collection of shirts and tattoo clothing culture. It’s worth watching to see the value of the artist before there became a bit of a negative connotation with his name and brand.

**Warning there are some bums and illustrated nudity in this trailer**

Where Do We Go From Here?

Sailor Jerry and Ed Hardy are just some  of the pioneers of the trade.  Sp where do we go now? Well as much as tattooing has its foundations in the American Traditional Style I can’t say that I’m particularly fond of it or that it fits my style as an artist. I have tons of artists who inspire me but I thought I’d pick one from each category that I think interests me as an artist to focus on.

1. Colour Realism: Nikko Hurtado

Colour realism as the name describes is tattoos that are full of colour and are photo realistic. The best of the best can make a tattoo look like a photograph. For me a real inspiration is Nikko Hurtado. I love his style. He is an unbelievable artist above and beyond tattooing. Plus I’m definitely into his subject matter.

Gizmo by Nikko Hurtado
“Gizmo” by Nikko Hurtado
2. New School: Jime Litwalk

New school is a relatively new style of tattooing and Jime Litwalk happens to be one of the artists I think is awesome at it. New school tattooing involves a cartoonish aesthetic, bright colours, bold lines and a simplified image by comparison with colour realism. To see the difference check out Jime’s version of Gizmo

Gizmo by Jime Litwalk
“Gizmo” by Jime Litwalk
3. Black & Grey Realism: Bob Tyrell

Black & Grey Realism is similar to colour realism in its creation but the artist chooses a palette filled with shades of black and grey in order to create a photo like tattoo.  I chose to include Bob Tyrell here because not only is he an incredible artist but my mentor has attended a seminar given by Bob. I chose Bob’s Mr. T because it fit the 80’s theme I had going.

Mr. T by Bob Tyrell
“Mr. T” by Bob Tyrell

Stay Tuned as next week I’ll post a couple of my own drawings and perhaps get my hands on a tattoo machine and start making some marks!!

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