Master Tattoo Institute is motivated by a deep desire to shape the future of tattooing.
The student can expect to become fluent in Tattoo history, deeply schooled in design theory and capable of tattooing at the highest levels. Drawing is acknowledged to be a core skill by great tattoo artists in every style practiced. Yes, it’s true, the digital revolution has made certain processes almost automatic, and stenciling from an existing body of work is easier than ever. Still, in our tattoo school, we believe, at the heart of a great tattoo artist is a great artist first, meaning a person capable of designing, inventing, and executing tattoos that have not been done before, either working from an internal vision of personal flash, or a shared vision from a commissioning client blending historical styles with personal vision.
This is a tall order, and we are up for the challenge. Of course, Rome was not built in a day, and masters are not formed overnight, what we offer is deep exposure to the history and design theory practiced in the major tattooing styles. Our approach is special because we teach history and theory in the context of a studio drawing class. So, while some schools may teach you to draw by shading eggs and force you to read boring historical accounts, we teach hands on skills that not only develop your drawing, but at the same time create a strong sense of the theoretical and historical context you are wanting to become part of.
The two foundation courses, “Tattoo Drawing Studio 1 and 2”, each 10-week online courses, establish the knowledge base and foundation in drawing practice necessary for a lifetime of growth and development in the tattoo industry. Our goal is to help the student be the artist they are, knowledgeable, skilled, and capable of communicating in drawing with clarity, precision, and fluid expression.
Class meets on Mondays and Wednesday nights.
Mondays are all business. We introduce an important movement either from contemporary tattoo practice or from the history of tattooing. The style is deconstructed and understood as a collection of design principles. These principles are then isolated into drawing exercises that build in the student the necessary understandings to grow in that style.
Wednesdays are open studio. The instructor is present, but on Wednesday we are a community of artists working together to support and inspire each other in the weeks practice. There is discussion, sharing, banter, happening on the surface, all the while the student is drawing and developing.
Practice is the touchstone of excellence. At the Master Institute we will teach you to love your practice and in doing so, teach you to be the best Tattoo artist you can be. Our goal is to be the strongest Tattoo school on planet earth, serving the highest achieving artists in the industry.
Topics and Themes:
Perhaps the most requested tattoo of all time. From the masterly work of artists like BJ Betts and Cholo script of East LA to fine scripted phases, lettering dominates the tattoo market. We study lettering from the ground up, learning to draw letters by hand, practicing layout, letter form, spacing, and legibility. Lettering exercises key design concepts like fluidity alignment and consistency, pushing us towards style and precision. Lettering practice is humbling in that almost anyone can make an okay hand lettered piece, but in the right hands it can be so much more. We cover basic letter shapes and styles establishing a foundation for further development.
The American Traditional tattoo is omnipresent in the tattoo world. There is a set of images whose meanings and method have been practiced since World War 2. Images simple enough to be tattooed on sailors in 30 minutes filled in with solid tone and gradations with simple bold outlines, not only started American tattooing, but they have also stood the test of time. We break these images down to core, and learn to construct these simple yet powerful images from memory. We start with simple banners and hearts and move through schooners and dragons. We are starting to construct our visual memory with this work. Our ambition is to have our students be fluent in the American Traditional cannon, capable of drawing key images from memory at the end of the section and inventing new images that seamlessly fit into this motif.
Norman Collins, the father of American Traditional went to Japan and studied with Horikai, then came to America where he apprenticed Ed Hardy, and Lyle Tuttle, two of the biggest names in tattoo history. Japans tattoo history dates back as far as the 16 hundreds and introduced the west to the sleeve and the body suit. Along with learning to draw the key symbols utilized by Japanese tattoo, we will also seek to understand the flowing rhythms, the design unity achieved by repetition of forms, and the use of focal point. We want to use the Japanese tattoo not only as an object of reverence but also as a learning tool, a model of development to be applied throughout tattoo work.
Working from reference we start practicing skills that lead to realistic representation. Studying transitions of value and textural effects we look to build extremely realistic images. Students will learn how to tackle the challenges of portraiture, including, understanding and utilizing knowledge of anatomy. Beginning with effective drawings, considering lights and darks, understanding flesh tones and laying down color, students will understand the components that comprise good portraiture, both separately, and collectively. Students will start with a look at proper materials, and will learn the properties of various mediums, as well as what makes them beneficial in achieving certain stylistic effects.
Students will be introduced to Portrait Chiaroscuro and will understand the effects of lighting on their subjects. They will experiment with strong contrasts between light and dark, and how these effects relate to the overall composition of a piece. Graphic designers, artists, photographers and all those involved in the visual arts, need an accurate understanding of color theory. The instructor presents aspects of color and light perception such as hue, lightness and chroma, brightness and saturation, visual perception of color, mixing paints, and additive and subtractive color mixing. Experimentation with various watercolor techniques, including various washes will help you to make these techniques part of your painting style.
Black work builds our knowledge of value and pattern design, we study a basic version of human anatomy to better understand the rhythms and flow of patterns and learn to create designs that complement various body types. This type of Tattoo encompasses “Tribal” tattoo studies as well as geometrical tattoos
Neo traditional introduces a wider selection of imagery into American traditional, we add to our drawing skills with a focus on building more personal images that mix with the traditional cannon but are not limited to what was done before. We begin a practice of caricature.
New school teaches us enhanced perspective technique as well as “3D” practice bringing our caricature skills to a new level. While working in established cannons 80’s 90’s imagery as well as Manga and comic book art. We practice gestural representation, evocative figures, and line quality.
This style opens a world of influence to tattoo art we explore classic illustration technique and drawing style opening ourselves to the long history of illustrated text as a resource for design.
Trash Polka is steam punk meets communist propaganda executed in a collage format with elements of realism and black and grey style. It uses the entire body as a canvas and has produced stunning work. Given the skills we have been practicing, it is a natural outgrowth for us. Bringing the element of collage into our skill set, creating in us a willingness to blend and contrast imagery to form a cohesive whole
Watercolor uses fine line tattoo with hard and soft edge abstract style. We study the effects of abstract shapes and marks as contrasted with a legible line work.
This list of topics and themes covered is meant as a starting point for our students. As new styles emerge, we will develop our curriculum to keep our students current. If a student feels an important style is not being covered, we are open to consideration. The list of themes, while being stable is subject to change, but only given the circumstance that it is covered elsewhere.
Helpful critiques of your artwork will help improve your technique, all the while leaving room for individual experimentation and development of style. The Master Tattoo Institute has developed a proven curriculum that gives students the skills needed to become professional representational artists. The strength of this program is it’s one-on-one attention given to each individual in a very small group setting. This assures that the most important concepts of what we teach are firmly internalized.