Nightmarish Tattoos: An Interview with Dark Artist Neon Judas

tattooer neon judas at setubal tattoo show

His real name is David Rinklin, better known as “Neon Judas.” The German artist specializes in black-and-grey tattoos of dark subject matters such as skulls, clowns and devils, and just reading these three words seems much lighter than what the actual work looks like.

His tattoos infernally look like they’re snaps from horror films, death metal bands, or just from someone’s recurring nightmare. They’re sinister, but in a dark-art-appealing-way. The hardcore details of rotten teeth and bones are impressively inked and made to appear three-dimensional. But with many dark artworks there is controversy; not everyone digs it, but everyone has an opinion about it. Neon Judas gets some heat in the US about a tattoo he did on musician Shocky’s face, and I ask him about that situation when meeting him at the Setubal Convention.

Above: Artist Neon Judas is completely in-the-zone when tattooing.
skull with crown tattoo, dark art tattoo by neon judas animal skull tattoo, black and grey tattoos
Human and animal skulls are recurring themes in Neon Judas’ portfolio.

Where do you get inspiration for your creepy tattoo designs?

I don’t know … I have a constant lack of inspiration. Most stuff comes up from a certain routine which makes things happen. Of course, I like music and movies and stuff, but inspiration doesn’t come anymore. I have to force things to come to a point, otherwise, nothing happens. I depend a lot on the input of my customer as well.

You turn death into beauty. Have you always been fascinated with dark art?

Not sure. What you think of or what you feel when you see certain images are mainly up to your association with certain things. I’m not sure if there is such thing as good or bad. From society norms there might be, but I don’t try to influence other people.

pope clown tattoo on arm
Coulrophobia is not a problem for his clients.

Which dark artists have inspired you?

Buena vista tattoo club.

What is your favorite subject matter to tattoo?

I don’t really care, as long as I can ensure proper quality and a happy customer.

skull and rose tattoo on leg, black and grey tattoos
Each tattoo is well-thought-out in terms of composition, depth, light and contrast.

What are the benefits of using black and grey inks for the type of work you do?

The main benefit for me is that I think it looks better because I don’t like colours. You don’t need to cause that much damage for a perfect result and it’s easier to keep the contrast high. Many people rely a lot on colour contrast when they do full colour, but they totally forget about light and dark contrast. So 90 percent of full-colour realism is really low contrasted.

shocky face tattoo, controversial tattoo
Get a closer look at musician Shocky in the music video above.

You are responsible for tattooing Shocky’s face. There have been many comments on Instagram about it. Do you realize how controversial this tattoo is?

When we did it, we didn’t think about it. It was not a big thing until people made it one. I know he doesn’t give a fuck, so I knew we don’t need to worry about things. I didn’t even plan to take a photo, but it looked nice so I changed my mind. People care too much about other people’s lives and decisions and project their norms and values on others—ignoring that there might be perspectives which are totally legitimate.

In Europe the reactions were okay, but in America it is really backwards how they see things.

Do you care about what other people think?

I care too much, so I’m getting rid of it step by step.

Shocky’s personal style reminds me of Zombieboy. Do you know who he is? Do you like his tattoos?

I think the face tat is not bad.

Neon Judas tattooing client at a tattoo convention flash art, Neon Judas, tattoo convention
The artist hard at work on an arm tattoo, which took him over three overs to complete.

How did you come up with the name “Neon Judas?” And what does it mean?

Doesn’t mean anything.

Tattooer Mauro Amaral said you are “one of the kindest artists [he] know[s].” Is this true?

I think most people are shit. So Mauro might mistaken decent manners with being good. Anyway, it’s difficult to say. What makes a person good? Good thinking and intention, or good doings and behavior? Those are two entirely different things and they normally don’t go hand in hand.

Follow Neon Judas on Instagram and Facebook.

Tattoos © Neon Judas.
Convention Photos © Scene360.
Adriana de Barros

Posted by

Adriana has created successful projects for over 15 years in the fields of art, design, illustration, fashion and web. She is the Webby-winning designer and editor-in-chief of Illusion (Scene360) magazine. When not online, she is enjoying the quiet life walking her shih tzu at seaside. Follow the author @ Twitter , Instagram, Facebook and view more articles.