Straight Outta Nature
Tattoo artist Milo Alfring’s bold designs break traditional mold
You can tell, looking at Milo Alfring’s tattoos, he pulls his artistic vision straight out of the mountains. Having started his career in the high country, that seems only natural. Alfring’s pieces are big, they’re bold and absolutely saturated with a color palette that sings in perfect harmony — he puts new flare into traditional-style tattooing, pumping his imagery full of detail, realism and a keen creative essence. The results are totally stunning.
How long have you been tattooing/where did you start?
I started tattooing in 2007 in Steamboat Springs. Tattooing had never really been on my radar, but I had heard through some friends that the local tattoo shop was looking for an apprentice. I showed up with a few drawings and started working there a week later. I really had no idea what I was getting into. After a couple of years, that shop closed down and I floated around working some different jobs, but snowboarding was my main focus at that time. I would tattoo occasionally, but I never considered myself fully committed to it. I would say that I started to take it more seriously around 2012 after I had finished art school at RMCAD and moved back to Steamboat to open my own shop.
How would you describe your style of art?
My current focus in tattooing is based around a style called neotraditional. I always try to describe it as taking the roots of old school American traditional tattooing (bold lines, simplistic color palette, lots of black, easy to read), but taking it a step further, a bit more detail, a bit more realism. That's not to say that it's a step above traditional work of course. Traditional tattoos are so beautiful in their own way. It's just a style that I began to gravitate towards for too many reasons to explain.
Where do you draw inspiration from when you're drawing up an original piece?
When drawing an original piece, I am usually guided into a slight direction from the client. From there I will typically start by gathering references based on their ideas and usually a composition will come together during that process. When I first begin a sketch, I try and get out of my own way and let the design fall into place somewhat organically. … In a general sense though, and particularly when coming up with my own ideas without any specific direction, I will draw inspiration from nature, movies, music, meditation, other art forms, other artists...
What are some of your favorite things to draw/tattoo?
My favorite subject matter is figure, animals, flowers, nature, birds, flowers and skulls, but sometimes I will be presented with a completely different idea that I get really excited about. That’s one really cool thing about tattooing, sometimes you will get an idea from a client and you’ll end up with an interesting design that you never would have discovered on your own.
Who are your favorite artists to follow?
Some of my favorite tattoo artists are Steve Moore, Justin Hartman, Emily Rose Murray, Bobby Johnson, Chris Primm, Hannah Flowers, Adrian Lee and Sam Clark. I could go on forever really, but those I mentioned are all at the top for me. I should probably also pay more attention to artists other than tattooers, but I'm so obsessed with tattooing and there's only so much time...
What is your favorite aspect of tattooing?
I really enjoy meeting and tattooing so many different people from so many different walks of life and getting to know them. I also noticed over time how tattooing has a bit of a sacred element to it. On one hand it's very special that you're changing somebody's life with artwork that they will wear forever. Tattoos can bring confidence and pride to people and the process of getting tattooed can teach discipline, determination and trust. Along with many other things depending on the circumstances and the particular piece of course. When I am reminded of this it makes me very proud of what I am able to do for a living and also very grateful for my clients. Then on the other hand I try and remind myself not to take things too seriously and that I am just drawing on people everyday. Either way I feel very lucky to be able to do what I do and I still look forward to going into work every day. I guess that is my favorite aspect of it, the fact that I actually enjoy it. I don't think there are a lot of people who can say that about their job.
Anything else you want people to know about you?
Well if you'd like to get an appointment with me I prefer to do all my bookings through email, email@example.com. I work at a private studio called Black Sage up in beautiful Evergreen, CO with some very lovely and ultra talented coworkers.