Traditional Old School

Old school tattoos were some of the first American tattoos which were made popular by sailors during World Wars I and II. The outline of an old school style tattoo is usually very dark blue. The coloring of old school tattoos is usually red and green with small amounts of blue, yellow, brown and purple. Old school style tattoos do not usually utilize shading in their designs. Many tattoo shops provide samples of flash art, which tend to have old school characteristics. The most well-known old school tattoo artist is Norman Keith Collins, who is also known as Sailor Jerry. Sailor Jerry died in 1973 but left a legacy of tattoo art that has been cherished for generations. Another famous old school tattoo artist is Herbert Hoffman, who lived from 1919 to 2010. Hoffman was a German artist and began his old school tattoo career in the 1930s. When Hoffman died at the age of 90, he was the oldest working tattoo artist in the world.

There are several common old school tattoo motifs, including cherries, nautical stars, pin ups, mermaids, swallows and sparrows, hearts, anchors, eagles, fish, military emblems and flowers. Sailors traditionally used swallow tattoos to mark their travels. It was common for a sailor to get one swallow tattoo to mark his first trip overseas and the second swallow to mark his trip home. Old school tattoos are an important part of American history and pop culture, partly because of the striking art that the first old school tattoo artists produced. Today, old school tattoos are seen as an important part of tattoo history as well as an excellent option for someone looking for a classic tattoo style:

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