Tattoo Artist Interview with Frank La Natra

Frank LaNatra31 Tattoo Artist Interview with Frank La NatraFrank La Natra, article and photo gallery in Tattoo.1 Tribal #78

Look at Frank’s tattoos, visit the tattoo gallery

What inspires your art?
There are so many things that inspire me and my art.  Artists and illustrators such as Glenn Keane, Bobby Chiu, Francisco Herrera, & Creature Box are huge inspirations to my drawing and illustrations, while artists like Jesse Smith, Robert Kane, Tanane Whitfield & Kelly Doty have helped my tattooing and career to grow.
Pixar films and animation play a huge role in inspiring my art as well as video game art which inspires a lot of my backgrounds.
I’m also greatly inspired by my clients and their tales.  Every time I take on a new client and their idea, it inspires my drawing, the story I tell and the characters I create.

Are there any tattoo artists that you consider your teachers or role models?
There are a lot of tattoo artists that have taught me so much.  I named a few above that have had the biggest impact on my career so far.

Can you briefly describe your technique?
My technique as far as drawing and developing my illustrations begins with understanding and visualizing the story I have to tell.  Then I work on character creation and concept sketches as well as the composition of the whole piece and how everything will interact with each other.  Once that’s all done I put it together into the final illustration, create a stencil and begin my lighting study.
When I finally begin the tattoo itself, I line it, do all of my black work and shading to make sure my lighting in the piece is correct and then I start with color. I begin with the background and working back to front, building my sky and atmosphere first so I can bring all of that into the foreground and characters later. The final step for me is to color the characters and then any last little details I might want to add.

How long have you done this work?
I have been drawing cartoons since I was a little boy. It started with Mickey Mouse, then on to comic books and fantasy art, only to come full circle and bring me back to the Disney style of art.  I have been tattooing close to 16 years, but I truly only found myself focusing on this style of tattooing in the last 2 years I would say.

Who taught you?
As far as who taught me how to tattoo when I started, it was 2 guys from Brooklyn, NY when it had just become legal [1997, Ed.]. That’s when I began my apprenticeship and really didn’t learn much other than the basics of tattooing.  It took me long hard years of teaching myself to develop a little more advanced techniques.
It really wasn’t until about 5 years ago, when I met Stefano Alcantara and watched him tattoo me, that I began to really understand the full potential of what is possible with tattooing. Stefano changed my whole understanding of how to tattoo. After that I began doing realism and building a name for myself.  Then along came Jesse Smith and he inspired me to truly push myself to draw and tattoo what I love. He kind of helped mentor me through building my career into what it has become today.


How did your passion for tattoos first start?
To be honest I really didn’t have that much of a passion for tattooing till about 2-3 years ago.  Before that it was just a Job, but as I started to grow into my style and be able to really focus on what I love, my passion for tattooing grew.  Now it is a part of who I am.


What was the first tattoo you created?
The very first tattoo I ever did was a little tribal dragon on one of my best friends.  The person teaching me didn’t tell me till I was all done that I had put the tattoo on backwards.  That was a mistake I never made again.

And what was the first that you got on your own skin?
Embarrassingly enough it was the tribal “S” from the band Sepultura.

How much does the person asking for the tattoo influence your creation?
The only influence a client has on the tattoo is the story I am going to tell and on occasion the types of animals I might use.  That’s where their part in the tattoo ends and I take over.


What are you working on now?
Currently I am working on a bunch of huge projects with other artists.  Things such as big collaboration tattoos, to books, clothes, toys, down to creating our own world as part of an upcoming project we all have been working on.
I also have been focusing on doing art shows at my gallery and giant collaboration guest spots with 12-16 artists at one time.  So to say the least I have a lot on my plate and a lot in the works.

What is your philosophy?
My philosophy is simple.  You get out what you put in.  Bottom line!

Frank La Natra, Into the Woods Gallery
Dania Beach, Florida (USA)