New tattoo artwork replaces destroyed mural on Capitol Trail
Whether or not you like tattoos, the decorated fence outside of American Art Tattoo on Capitol Trail has been a local landmark for over a decade, owner Dave Scott said.
“When you said ‘the tribal fence,’ everyone, regardless, knew where it was,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t even know this was a tattoo shop.”
When a car swerved off the road and crashed into the fence in January, Scott knew he didn’t want to end the era of the mural.
“I knew I needed to upgrade it sooner or later, but the car kind of nudged me,” he said.
Scott thought up some ideas for a new mural and decided he wanted some kind of spray paint art, he said. When he came across a newspaper article about local artist Derrick Noel, Scott reached out and the two started working on the design almost immediately.
“I wanted to have a lot of traditional elements so when you looked at it, you would know that it was a tattoo, even if you weren’t into tattoos,” he said.
From a “centerpiece” of a tattoo machine and a splash of black ink, a medley of tattoo iconography covers the wooden fence – including an American flag, rose, an eagle and a heart with “mom” inscribed.
“I wanted a little humor,” Scott added.
The fence has seen a number of designs over the last 29 years Scott’s shop has been open. In 2001, Scott commissioned an American flag to cover the fence after the events of 9/11.
“Unfortunately, the people who had put the fence up and painted it did not properly primer it really well, so within a year or so, the paint underneath started peeling,” he explained.
In 2006, he contacted the University of Delaware and had an artist create a tribal print, which was popular for tattoos at the time, he said.
“He came out, and him and I sketched up a few things. He said, ‘Can I run with this a little bit and do my style?’ I said sure, because that’s good for any artist, even for tattooing, to do your style. You get that freedom,” he said.
Those two designs aren’t lost in Noel’s work. An allusion to the tribal print is rendered behind the other designs, turning from black to gray as it wraps around the fence. The American flag also makes an appearance.
The mural allowed for Noel to branch out from his usual artistic style. He said that he reached out to one of his friends that does tattoos to get input on the design.
“I appreciate the art,” he said. “I see great tattoo art all the time, it’s just not something I do, so it was fun kind of doing imagery I don’t normally get to paint.”
While Scott had an idea of what he wanted for the fence, he also gave Noel creative license.
“Those things work for tattoos, but for a large scale mural, it might not come off as well,” Noel said. “So I kind of put my twist on it, my illustration style.”
Scott described the mural as “new and improved” and “more modern.”
“It’s just so beautiful in general; even people that aren’t into tattooing have to appreciate it,” he said. “So many people that don’t even have tattoos compliment it. The more people drive by it, the more they look at it. it’s just going to again continue to be that landmark.”
The new American Art Tattoo mural was completed in October and features work by local artist Derrick Noel.
Artist Derrick Noel, left, and American Art Tattoo owner Dave Scott, right, pose for a photo outside the new mural.