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Frank La Natra on Teaching, Tattooing, and 2019

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Dan Lorenzo: The other night you told me you like teaching. What do you like to teach? I'm assuming digital painting?

Frank La Natra: I like just teaching about art in general. Character design is at the top of my list though. My seminar is based on the Fundamentals of Character Design. Sometimes I teach a bit about digital painting when I have time. I have my bachelors in Illustration with a minor in Animation. I was hoping to one day work for Pixar and if that didn't pan out I thought I would teach illustration at a college. But lo and behold my career in tattooing took off in late 2012 and I never looked back. So I still get to follow my passion for teaching, just instead of in a school I get to do it on a much larger scale in an industry I love. I'm hoping to have my seminar released digitally in 2019 as an online course as well as working on a new seminar to teach live.


How did your family react when you told them you wanted to pursue tattooing as a career?

That happened back in '97 when they first legalized it in NY. My parents were not happy at all. I had dropped out of college for accounting at the time to pursue tattooing; they were hoping I would graduate and have a real career. They let me pursue it, hoping it was just a phase and that I would soon realize I had made a mistake. Fast forward almost 22 years later and here I am. Still doing it and with a career bigger than I could have imagined. Who would've thunk it? [laughs]


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Your art looks incredibly original to me. Who were you influenced by?

Thank you so much, Dan! I am largely influenced by animators and character designers. Mainly Pixar and Disney artists. Don Bluth was also a big influence on me. I spend a lot of time studying their art and taking online courses and tutorials by them. My hope is to get my art out there and start to be recognized as an illustrator and character designer outside of the tattoo industry. I would like to be able to possibly pursue toy design and animations based on my own characters and worlds I have created.


What are your feeling on shops that offer $13 tattoos on Friday the 13th?

To be honest Dan, I don't really have an opinion on it. I run my business how I see fit and if they choose to do that, then that is their prerogative. I don't feel it has any impact on what we do at my studio and so never really gave it much thought.


This might sound like a really weird question, but I'm going to ask it anyway: I have really vivid dreams. Do you dream and when you do, does your art ever creep into your dreams? Does your animation ever come to life?

You know, you're not the first to ask that. I have to say that I really don't dream much or if I do, I don't remember 'em in the morning. Most of my imagination comes to life while I'm up and daydreaming. A lot of times it happens right while I'm drawing. I'll start to think of a personality and voice for the character I'm drawing; I start thinking about its world and what expressions it would make. It usually comes to life before my very eyes as I work and move the pen across the tablet.


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What should we expect from you in 2019?

I'll be on the road a bit come this year. Got quite a few conventions lined up and if all goes well I will be putting out a brush set and an online course with Tattoo Smart. I'm gonna try and do my seminar at a couple shows while I'm out there as well. Should have a bunch of new merchandise as well. Also, just because I'm really ambitious and like to spin more plates then I can carry, I'm hoping that I can finish all the preliminary character design and storyboards for an animation I'm working on with Phil Sommers and John White from my studio. I got a few other things on my list but those will be a surprise.


Anything else you want our readers to know?

Just stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled, you're gonna see a lot coming from my crew and I at Into the Woods Gallery this year. Follow me @franklanatra on IG to stay up to date with everything to come. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Dan.


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Frank La Natra owns and tattoos at Into the Woods Gallery in Florida. For more on Frank, visit