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The Fine Line Tattoos of Nal



Boston University


The Fine Line Tattoos of Nal

An inside look at a celebrity artist's work.


Cultural Image Tattoo in Koreatown, Los Angeles, founded by celebrity tattoo artist Nene Gonzales, also known as Tat2Nene, houses his apprentice, Noah Lee. Under the alias, Nal, the Los Angeles-based young artist is a master of highly detailed black work. His instagram, nal_tattoo, is flooded with his fresh micro designs, to his jaw-dropping compositions on subjects from elegant lion sculptures, to Penny Dreadful’s tormented figure.

By combining his exposure to the fine arts and Nene’s guidance, he elaborately executes fine shading and line work resulting in astounding tattoos. Nal briefly studied at the rigorous private college, Art Center, in Pasadena, and his penchant for challenges earned his place as pupil to Nene.

“There’s a difference between being a shop artist and creating a brand with your name,” Nal said. Since high school, he had been operating in his own studio tattooing on and off for years. “The interest was always there. I had my studio upstairs for five years. When Nene moved in, I realized I needed him to teach me. I kept bothering him for a year until he said yes.”

Although Nene assisted in launching Nal's career, the dual lessons from brief art schooling, to his exposition at Miami Ink while visiting the annual Art Basel, have helped him grow and improve his art.

Nal also emphasized on his favorite parts of the industry. “It comes with a lot of perks; however, the relaxed lifestyle is what gets me," he said. "You make a lot of great stuff along the way and my mentor tattoos a lot of rappers from 2Chainz to Ty Dolla $ign.”

Walking into Cultural Image Tattoo, clients are welcomed by the mesmerizing movement of the intricate wall painting done by graffiti artist, Defer. The team is nomadic as members are invited to travel to numerous cities throughout the year to join conventions. Nal’s first big international trip was Berlin in early January this past year. Classic Tattoo Berlin, "the Miami Ink" of Berlin, invited him and renowned West Coast artists, Steve Soto and Tattoo Louie, to take part in its convention’s lineup.

Additionally, Nal described the evolution in his artistic world. “The industry is becoming more commercialized by building in kids with art backgrounds, he said. “The generation is becoming open minded now more than ever. Not only our generation, but our parent's generation’s perception on tattooing as careers is changing.”

Nal’s passion for art, innate ability, and perseverance allow him to excel and quickly emerge as an upcoming artist of the highest caliber for black work.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.