In this day and age, many tattoo artists have found great success by cultivating their own style. This is most certainly the case for Isnard Barbosa, whose work settles into the sweet spot between NC-17 anime fantasy and tried-n-true neo traditional. His unique approach inspires tattoo collectors from around the world to travel from near and far to his Dublin-based studio, with the promise they’ll receive a Barbosa original. We sat down with the ink slinger to learn how he coiffed his signature brand of tattooing and discover where he finds inspiration for his designs.
How did you get into tattooing?
Long story short, a friend of mine showed me a tribal tattoo and it was kinda sketchy. I was like, “What’s up with that thing?” He was like, “What? This is epic, I paid good money for this!” I was shocked and was like, dude, that's kinda shitty. He was like, “Oh yeah? I want to see you do better.” And here we are.
What was your first shop experience like?
Horrible. And because it was my first shop, I thought it was normal. It was only after I left that I realized everything I’d learned was bad. I guess that I learned exactly how not to be like my teacher.
What was the first tattoo you did?
It was on my Mom! Thanks for all the support Mom, I love you.
How did you develop your unique style?
Well, I’ve been through loads of styles— from realistic to traditional Japanese. Man, after that, I was kind of tired of doing whatever came into the shop. I started drawing what I really like on paper, and I got a massively positive reaction. I thought, “Wait, people actually like my stuff?” And from there, I started doing my style, which I’d describe as anime mixed with realism and neo traditional.
What inspires you as an artist?
I watch a lot of anime and play a lot of video games. Apart from that, I talk and share ideas with other artists. This not only helps me to grow as an artist, but more importantly, as a person.
What’s your process for creating an original design?
I easily spend two to three hours drawing each tattoo. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with myself. But, I guess if your work doesn’t completely consume you then it isn’t what you truly love.
Which tattoo artists do you admire most?
That’s a tricky question. I love my coworkers and they push the boundaries every day—Luiz Lacorte and Santi Bord. There are a lot of artists that I love, but I won’t list any more names because I always forget the one that will call me and say, “Isnard, what the fuck? You mentioned my mom and not me? How could you?” You know, the classic story.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
When I’m approached with something that I’m not crazy about, I always try to make the most of it. So, I guess you could say that I look forward to every piece that I’m going to do. I know that’s a lame answer, but it’s the truth.
Is there a tattoo that you haven't done yet that you are dying to do?
I’d love to meet someone who wants to get a Dragon Ball Z piece.
What’s up next for Isnard Barbosa?
I’m currently working on developing something super different, so stay tuned. And if you're around Dublin, pay a visit to my shop, Legendary Tattoo Studio. I know it’s a lame name, but it has cool people and artists. I promise that you will like it. And if you’re an artist, remember that asking your client to calm down and not move after five hours of tattooing is the same as trying to baptize a cat.