British artist Dan Smith‘s work is classic Americana with a good amount of charm from the isles. His tattoos, sometimes arcane and sometimes very frank, exude an an air of endurance, as if they’d follow their human to the netherworld and back and still look impeccably fresh. Dan does not hold back; he is a visionary, injecting humor and moxie wherever he sees fit.

Looking through Dan’s work was like viewing a series of stills from a noir film, interrupted by bursts of color and flashes of giddy absurdity. The content is killer- a combat boot here, a pencil stub there- quaint mementos meet the rose- topped skulls and sparrows of American style tattooing. Even the textbook tattoos- the ships, and the scrolls, and the bald eagles- are original and distinct despite their prevalence. As his Instagram name suggests, there really exists such a thing as ‘Smithism’.

I’d trust Dan to come up with an eternal design for any witty, complex, or deeply personal tattoo idea you throw at him. His rendering of Wilson, the bloody handprint from “Cast Away” not only blew me away with it’s use of shadow and illusion of smudge, but also, quite simply, made me happy. Dan executes his role exceptionally- his hand is the link between vision and tangibility. On a technical level, my words cannot do him justice- the portraiture displays every hair and spot of light, and the dot work/shading works wonders in terms of texture, making things appear as velvety or rugged as necessary.

I’d say Dan is a bona fide artist of the twenty- first century, advancing and improving tattoo art as it gains more and more traction. His work is living proof of dedication, innovation, and natural aptitude. It’s also quite rock n’ roll. Dan Smith works out of Captured Tattoo in Tustin, California.


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