An Interview with Dusty Neal

Dusty Neal is an amazing tattooer who works out of Black Anvil Tattoo in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We had the excellent opportunity to ask Dusty a few questions:


TattooYou – How did you get into tattooing?

Dusty Neal – It was towards the end of art school, and I apprenticed while finishing my bachelor’s program. Metal and Hardcore attracted me to tattoos, but it was the aspect of making art in another medium that really made me want to pursue it.

TY – You have quite a unique artistic style. There’s a definite Dusty Neal-ness to what you do! Who and/or what are your major creative influences?

DN – Thank you, I do strive to stand apart from others as much as I can by mostly just focusing on staying true to my own personality and interests. Growing up on comic books and metal impacted my style more than anything. Pushead, Jim Lee, Dale Keown, and Todd McFarlane were huge for me. Now I assimilate ideas and visuals that stem from concepts I find interesting. I think about overarching, big-picture concepts and then find ways to represent them visually. It almost always stems from personal interests, rather than thinking of what would appeal to others.

TY – You are very prolific. I follow you on Instagram and you’re always cranking out new stuff. What drives you to keep creating?

DN – I have to create as frequent as I can, as much as my brain allows. Sometimes I need breaks away from it to just be a consumer for a bit. Reading books and watching films, and then processing that information naturally and applying it to what I’ve been thinking about. Yet, if I’m not creating I feel guilty and lazy, and I need to do it for my own peace of mind. I derive my self-worth from output and quality.

TY – You seem to create unique themes in your tattooing. Themes that sometimes appear to come from traditional tattoo, then taken to a new and different place. What are your personal favorite themes? The themes you absolutely love to work on?

DN – It’s important for things to evolve from a place in history traditions are invaluable when upheld and built upon. Giving an idea recognizable history enriches it and adds more context. As far as themes, I love illustrating ideas that have a bit of drama and action utilizing people, animals, and mythology. I enjoy subversive themes and symbols of strength, rebellion, and vitality.

TY – Why do you think people come to you to get tattooed?

DN – The experience and atmosphere while getting tattooed is half the appeal. I like to believe that people find me personable and positive, and respect the effort I put forth into each piece. It’s not just a job for me, it truly is a lifestyle. I spend every day thinking about progression and working to define my approach and concepts. Precision and efficiency are also very important to me and heavily influence the way I design things. Getting tattooed can be painful and expensive, so executing a tattoo as precise and efficient as possible is everything.

TY – On Twitter, you’re refreshingly honest with your opinions on music. What are your top 5 songs this month, and why?

DN – 1.) “Dark Allies” by Light Asylum. Amazing goth band that’s really dark and dancey, like Siouxsie and the Banshees or Sisters of Mercy.I can’t get enough of it. 2.) “Cat Rider” by Little Dragon. The vocalist, Yukimi, has the best voice and the lyrics are great. 3.) “Close 2 Me” by Giraffage. Electronic pop music that you can cruise to on a summer night. 4.) “King Shit” by Yo Gotti. Goes so hard. 5.) “This Too Shall Pass Away” by Xiu Xiu. Jamie Stewart is my spirit animal, and Xiu Xiu plays constantly most nights once I get home.

TY – Your Rabbit Girl design we printed – what inspired you to create that? Is there any significance or meaning behind it?

DN – I love putting rabbit and horse ears on the girls in my drawings, which comes from fetish gear and some unknown reason why I find that attractive. That exact image however was inspired by a lace headband with rabbit ears by Maison Michel, a high-fashion hat maker. I saw a photo of Ashley Olsen wearing it, and I thought it would look striking in bright red.

Temporary bathead tattoo by Dusty Neal

Temporary bathead tattoo by Dusty Neal

TY – Your Bat Head design we just printed – what inspired you to create that? Is there any significance or meaning behind it?

DN – The bat head was from a sheet of flash I did with 5 different bat heads on it. At the time I would pick a subject I could easily reinterpret in multiple ways. Bats are easy for that, with all the different species, and each looks amazing. I could draw them over and over, focusing on all their bizarre features.

TY – Tattoo is fundamentally permanent. How do you feel about having some of your designs being used as temporary tattoos? There’s an interesting paradox there.

DN – I think it’s great! Tattoos are “permanent” per se, but I really don’t think they are as permanent as people often worry about. I cover, alter, and correct old tattoos very frequently. These high-quality temporary tattoos are wonderful looking, and they will undoubtedly help some people overcome their apprehensions about getting used to seeing a tattoo on their skin. It’s an empowering thing to embrace, and anything that helps someone do that is incredibly awesome. Thank you for letting me be a part of this!

TY – Well, Dusty, thank YOU for being a part of this!!

You can buy Dusty’s temporary tattoos on his TattooYou page.

You can follow him on Instagram.

And, you can follow him on Twitter.

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