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Artist Feature: Shane O'Neill


With over a decade of tattoo experience under his belt, Shane ONeill is a well-established and highly decorated veteran of the tattoo scene.


With over a decade of tattoo experience under his belt, Shane O’Neill is a well-established and highly decorated veteran of the tattoo scene. He’s most well known for his realism, portraits, wildlife, and horror designs. He’s recently gained even more recognition as the winner of the first season of Spike TV’s “Ink Master” (first season details).

O’Neill graduated from the Philadelphia University of the Arts with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and got his professional start in illustrating. He has always branched out into a variety of mediums, but it was his brother who pushed him to try out tattooing. In 1997, he gave it a shot, a transition made smooth by his background in illustration, and he hasn’t looked back since.(1)

A recipient of numerous awards himself, O’Neill is also responsible for the creation of a prestigious reward, the Chaudesaigues Award, named after the Prix Chaudesaigues at the Beaux Arts of Paris school award. This was first awarded in February 2012 at the Best of the Midwest tattoo convention, also of O’Neill’s creation, and judged by an international panel of exceptionally well-regarded tattoo artists, including O’Neill himself.(2)

O’Neill does portraits in both black and white and color, and sometimes takes to rather unique techniques (especially in terms of his color work), such as the way the shading here has a painted-on, very slightly hazy effect to it, as well as the way the natural skin color is allowed to show against the ball itself in the shape of two pins.

O’Neill is a favorite among people who want photorealistic tattoos of loved ones (he’s got entire portfolios of just child portraits), since he executes them with such expertise. His depiction of light and shadow in portraits is world-class.

A number of O’Neill’s portraits are of celebrities or movie characters, where he especially shines in color.

Horror is a genre O’Neill also specializes in, as mentioned before. His horror designs tend to be original in their own right, colorful and unique. There are twists that make these designs stand above the cut, such as the presence of one living eye and the plant that cradles the skull.

That same flair for photorealism that O’Neill brings to portraits can also be seen in his wildlife designs, which are consistently above reproach.

O’Neill does butterfly designs regularly, a place where his photorealism and wildlife skills intersect, and while some wildlife designs rely less on a 3D appearance, small insects, butterflies, arachnids etc.  benefit from the appearance of three dimensions, since the design looks less like a tattoo and more like an actual butterfly is perched on the skin.

In the final analysis, O’Neill’s critical acclaim is, in short, well deserved. Each of the 100+ awards he’s received to date has been earned under on the steam of natural talent, discipline, and high artistic standards. Whether or not we see his face again on TV in the future,  he’s one to watch. For more information or to book an appointment, you can visit his website ShaneONeillTattoos.com, or Facebook page.





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