Today, some tattoo artists can work on the skin to create a highly dimensional (hyper realistic tattoo), vivid and gorgeous piece of ink that you can almost reach out and touch! Well, you can handle it, but more in the sense that it can feel 3D and almost ‘beyond’ the surface of the flesh. This style is known as “Hyper-Realistic”.

New School can also have dimension but takes a more exaggerated, coloured spin on your striking custom art. 

Today, we’ll take a look at the difference between the two, with a few examples. Knowing the style may help with your own tattoo inspo or even help you understand the language of your tattoo artist to collaborate on something great together.

What does hyper-realistic art look like today?

Hyper-realism, or photorealism, is a fairly new addition to the expansive world of tattoo styles but despite its young age, it has quickly grown into popularity enough to become a modern classic. Tattoo artists who specialize in this type of work are extremely sought after for their pieces centered around portraits, animals, scenery and more. 

Realism tattoos draw their inspiration from the realism art era of the 1850s. The main goal of realism is to create a piece of artwork that looks like a photograph or 3D object you can reach out and grab. When it comes to a realistic tattoo, the results can be so lifelike that it feels like it could jump out at you at any moment. 

Getting a hyper-realistic tattoo takes loads of time, patience and loads of talent from the tattoo artist to get to the level of detail necessary to produce a piece of art that’s truly breathtaking. Realism tattoos utilize gradual shading in order to differentiate shapes and spaces within a tattoo, unlike traditional tattooing where we see a lot of stark, black outlines to do the same job. This lack of outline contributes to the 3D feeling a realistic tattoo gives. 

What is New School

The new school tattoo style was popularized in the 80s and 90s, and they are characterized by their brightness and over-the-top style. They typically will have a graffiti-like look to them and they will have a few notable pop culture elements included in their design. A new school artist will use linework techniques which help add more depth to an image, which creates a 3D looking effect to the image. This linework is one of the signs that give new school tattoos away. 

A new school design is anything you can imagine, drawn in an exaggerated way. The new school tattoo movement signifies a time where tattoo artists became more open and free with their techniques. In the past, there was a fear of doing this, as this had a risk of losing business to competitors. This caused tattoo artists to keep their techniques under wraps about what they did and how they achieved a certain look. With the new school movement, this began to change as artists began to share their ways of doing things. 

New School tattoos are not restricted by any colour palette or content, unlike traditional or neo-traditional tattoos. This also makes new school tattoos a very broad tattoo style. This can make it difficult for the uninitiated to pin down. Though there are a few characteristics that you can look for to help you figure it out. 

New school tattoos use rich, vibrant colours and have a distinctly cartoon-y or graffiti-esque look to them. There is a large amount of detail in new school tattoos which help them pop and look 3D. While new school designs can feature pop culture references, they can also be abstract and make seemingly little sense. So the key indicators that you are looking at a new school tattoo style are the vibrant colours, the graffiti style techniques and the visual depth. 

What are the similarities and differences between hyper-realistic and New School?

Both hyper-realistic and have that 3D element to them that tattoo artists in those genres strive for. This is where most of their similarities end though. Although they both have the objective of looking 3D they achieve it in distinctly different styles. 

New school tattoos are not meant to look as realistic as a photo like hyperrealist tattoos do. Plus, new school tattoos tend to use more vibrant colours than are found in hyper realistic tattoos which will use more natural colours to produce the image. 

The content or subjects of each style are also quite different. Where hyper realistic tattoos tend to focus on portraits, nature and animals, new school imagery can include pop culture references, cartoons and the like. 

Why Choosing the Right Tattoo Artist in Ottawa is Important

If you are drawn to any of these styles and are thinking of going for a new school or hyper realistic tattoo, then make sure you thoroughly research and vet your potential tattoo artists and tattoo shop, so you can be sure you get the end result you want. You will need a tattoo artist that specializes in the style that you want your tattoo to be in. At Sage Tattoo shop Ottawa, we have some highly talented artists who know how to bring your vision to life. If you have any questions, or want to book a consultation, please contact us to book at one of the best tattoo shops in Ottawa today!