New school refers to a popular style of tattooing that began in the 1970s. It’s characterized by vivid colors, thick outlines, and exaggerated depictions. New technology allows ink to pop from the skin, and livelier colors have been developed. This style takes elements from traditional tattooing styles, including old school, folk art, and Irezumi, or traditional Japanese tattooing. New-school tattoos are often thought of as cartoons or graffiti art due to their jagged edges and bubble letters.
Unlike traditional tattoos, which often depict hearts, crosses, and eagles, new-school tattoos allow people more creative freedom. Images are typically more abstract, so they’re easier to customize. Often, this style is used for horror movie-, aquatic-, and hip-hop-themed tattoos.
The style originated in California when artists began experimenting with designs that depicted famous actors, Disney movies, and “Star Trek” characters. Some say the style was encouraged and requested rather than created. Whether it was the artists or public demand that led to the new trend, it has taken over the industry.