His pieces sculpt the body, redrawing human anatomy. This is the aim of his artwork, using the latest digital creative tools to go back to the origins of Tribal and give it a fresh twist.
“Creating some lines on the body can enhance its shapes in the way we want. It´s something closer to fashion or jewellery rather than traditional illustrative tattoo”. With his gorgeous renderings on the skin on a background of pure black and patterns, we would like you to meet Alejandro, Black Prada.
Hi Alejandro, welcome to Tattoo Life! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Alejandro Prada and I’m a tattooer from Madrid. I’ve been making a living with tattoo since 2007, when I started working in a street shop. I did a lot of different tattoo styles before focusing on Neotribal. Now I am grateful to have the opportunity to create my own concepts on people from all around the globe. I love what I do and this is my passion. I have travelled a lot to different countries, tattoo conventions, and studios.
I’ve worked with many great artists and I would love to keep learning from all of them.
The photos you post are really lovely and that’s why I’ve got in touch to speak with you about your pieces as well as your artistic projects. Let’s start with your work. How do your tattoos come about?
I call my style Neotribal because it’s an interpretation of the most ancient tribal, but using modern tools like the computer to create patterns. The way the composition flows on the body is designed to enhance the anatomy. The patterns I use are based on geometric repetitions that I create digitally and incorporate with stencils to the project.
Your style plays with black and skin colour. So you draw the body with different lines. What sent you down this artistic path?
For me the body has to be the main part of the composition. Creating some lines on the body can enhance its shapes in the way we want. It´s something closer to fashion or jewellery rather than traditional illustrative tattoo. I believe minimal tattoos can look great when looking at the body from different positions and angles through movement. I love to find the most impact with the least amount of information. It’s most visible when dancing in the club or in the distance.
You do other more ornamental styles too, don’t you? Do you want to tell me about it?
I spent years doing geometric style. Now I feel that a geometric composition full of detail looks like camouflage. You cannot read it from the distance. I love solid and durable tattoos, that’s why I am mixing solid parts with detailed ones, giving a balanced aesthetic between high contrast and patterns.
One thing that really struck me was that you often post renderings of tattoos drawn on the computer, so not done yet, but rather like prototypes you propose as examples. What led you to this choice of sharing your research like this and not through drawings, for example?
I feel digital mockups are a good way to show how a person would look in real life. I also use this to work with my clients when they show up in my studio. We always work on a photo to show different options and how they would look.
Sometimes, at first glance, you don’t even realise they are renderings. How do you build up these images and why this choice?
I chose images to portray the way I want people to see my artwork. Like fashion images for example, so that I can show what tattoos would look like with clothing in an elegant way. Its also my way to realistically show a full body design.
Do you think it’s a new frontier in tattoo to present your work in this way?
Digital mockups allow me to create large scale work to each individual’s specific anatomy in a very realistic way. My masters used to draw big Japanese compositions on photos based on the customer’s anatomy. Now with an iPad and new tools this is easier and more realistic.
Obviously a tattoo idea is more attractive on a professional photograph but then the design is never the main focus.
Lately you’ve been driving towards a particular type of work, I’ve noticed (I’m talking about that sleeve you posted with a kind of shaded black waves). What are you trying for?
I am introducing abstract patterns that I can draw on instead of geometry. Creating a unique pattern on each person, flowing with their anatomy, and surrounded by solid black. My reference was a traditional Japanese technique called Suminagashi. How I see that sleeve is the middle point between tribal and Japanese in a very graphic and minimalistic way.
An important piece of information for our readers: where is it that you work?
Private studio in Madrid called Black Tatu
In this period of lockdown, how do you pass your time? Are you studying anything in particular? What do you miss about “normal” life and, to wind up, what are you planning for when it all goes back to normal?
I’m doing lots of paintings, psychedelics and self therapy. I really miss tattooing.
I would love to keep pushing my style in the same way I was doing, always creating new patterns and shapes. I found my formula and how to make my customers be part of each creation. So I cant wait to keep working on this.