While cartoon characters may seem like the purview of the young, most adults have fond memories of their favourite cartoons.
There’s just something magical about cartoons.
For adults, cartoons are a form of escapism to simpler times, when there was nothing more complex to do than figure out what snack to eat while you caught up on The Simpsons or checked out the latest Pixar movie.
Putting an adult twist on an old classic is always fun. So why not try a villainous version of your favourite Disney princess or a gothic Alice in Wonderland?
On a slightly more profound level, though, cartoons are frequently allegorical and riddled with lessons in morality. As a result, many of us learned more right, wrong, and social etiquette from the cartoons we watched as kids than we ever did at school.
As a tattoo style, there are a few specialisms that crossover with the cartoon style worth considering…
New School Style Cartoon Tattoos…
There really isn’t anything ‘new’ about New School tattoos these days, despite the name. First rising to popularity during the 80s and the weirdness that came with that decade, New School continued through the 90s and remains popular today.
Like getting a comic book inked across your body, the New School style is famed for its ability to vividly depict the fabulous and chaotic. Worlds of wonder that could never exist in reality, with caricatures of both humans and animals.
While New School’s popularity has waned in recent years, it’s perfect if you want a genuinely stylised cartoon tattoo. Likewise, New School is very much an aesthetic born of its time; if you’re nostalgic for the 80s and 90s, this is the perfect way to pay homage to the best time of your life.
It’s the style of a rebel, someone unfettered by social limitations, open to artistic expression and experimentation, and utterly undaunted by flashy, clashing colours and seriously bold statements.
Think pop art, degradês, hip hop, graffiti, disproportion, all in a cartoonish bubble of exaggeration.
This experimentation led to the inclusion of depth, shading, and 3D effects that had never before been seen in tattoo art.
The modern version of this style has continued to embrace such newness. For example, animated tattoos are now specifically designed to appear as if they are moving when the body part is flexed in a certain way.
Cartoons In Neo-Traditional Tattoos…
While the neo-traditional style of tattoo art isn’t exclusively a cartoon style, the classical American influence in neo-traditional design often lends itself to the inclusion of cartoons. They’re frequently vivid in colour, with lively designs accented by bold, thick borders. So if you’re looking for a modern twist on a genuinely traditional cartoon style, this is the perfect way to do it.
Anime Tattoo Style…
Another very popular offshoot of cartoon tattoos is the Anime Style. As the name implies, it’s an aesthetic drawn from the various bodies of work born of the Japanese anime style. From cartoons to TV shows and films, anime (or manga) has been extremely popular, not only in its Eastern origins but throughout the west, for a long time.
Almost romantic in style, the anime aesthetic is smooth, bright, and highly nostalgic.
Some of the most popular subjects for tattoos include Sailor Moon, Naruto, Dragon Ball, Pokemon, Death Note, and pretty much anything to come out of Studio Ghibli.
While anime originates in Japan, do not confuse it with the traditional Japanese style of tattoos. Although both are equally beautiful, they’re chalk and cheese in terms of artistic style.
Amusingly, the rapid rise in popularity of the early manga style saw westerners start to pay attention to traditional Japanese tattoos, thus raising their popularity.
Tattoo artists remain faithful to the original character when replicating a specific work as an anime tattoo. However, they show a more artistic license when rendering something original in an anime style. They may even mash up with other tattoo styles like new school, blackwork, and even trash polka.
Either way, you’ll find yourself with a colourful, enigmatic tattoo.
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