Old School Tattoos

Old-school tattoos, also known as traditional tattoos, were developed when society frowned upon them. Marines and bikers were the first to get them. This style features bold black outlines and a limited color pallet. Now considered vintage, it has become popular again among young tattoo enthusiasts. This style generally depicts the following images:

  • Boats and Anchors
  • Swallows, Sparrows, and Eagles – The swallow represents a sailor and was often used in old-school tattoos. Eagles are an American symbol, popular among military members.
  • Pin-up Girls – These models appeared in posters and photos that were popular when old-school tattoos originated.
  • Gypsies – The image of a gypsy often meant good luck or a constant search for happiness.
  • Nautical Stars
  • Native Americans

Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins started old-school tattoos in the early 1900s. As a man in the Navy, he traveled the world and was heavily exposed to the tattoo art and culture of Southeast Asia. He opened his first shop in Honolulu, creating an environment for other sailors to drink and get tattooed.