The History of American Tattoo Art
In America and other western countries, seeing someone with some ink on their arm, shoulder or just about any other body part is very commonplace. Tattoos were now being used to express one’s individuality. People today do research and draw from styles around the world and throughout tattoo history. Celtic tattoos and other primitive tattoos seem to be very popular, as well as old school or patriotic tattoo designs with military background. (see tattoo pictrure on the left)
Tattoo History and Pilgrims
During the rise of the Islamic and Christian religions, most of Europe and the Middle East put a stop to permanent marking of the body. Their scriptures were interpreted to forbid this type of treatment to the human body which was considered sacred. Even though these beliefs were widely followed, many pilgrims in the Middle Ages still marked their skin to prove that they had made the journey to the Holy Land. Most of the tattoo images were something simple like a cross. But some opted for more elaborate depictions of a religious event or ornate religious symbol.
Sailor Jerry is an American tattoo artist icon who made his reputation performing his tattoo art on sailors and many others over the years. His real name was Norman Keith Collins. He was born in Northern California in 1911 and became a drifter as a child. Sailor Jerry hopped trains, and traveled the country when he learned tattoo art from a guy in Palmer, Alaska. He enlisted in the Navy, and traveled the world's oceans where he was introduced to the tattoo styles and techniques of Southeast Asia. He especially took to the art form as presented by the Horis of Japan.
The Japanese tattoo masters inspired an attention to detail that was unmatched. Sailor Jerry's attention to detail was so good that people would comment on the accuracy of the rigging in his nautical tattoos. Sailor Jerry also developed new colors in the brand of his own color safe pigments. He developed his own needles that created much less trauma to the skin. And he was one of the first to adopt hospital grade sterilization practices and single use needles.
After his stint in the navy, he set up shop in Honolulu, Hawaii where he cemented his legacy as a true tattoo master. Some of his more popular tattoo designs included snakes, nautical stars, weapons and the infamous “Aloha” monkey.
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