Old school (tattoo)

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Old school (tattoo) refers to a Western or traditional American tattoo style featuring bold black outlines and a limited color palette.[1]


Famous artists are:

  • Norman Keith Collins, also known as Sailor Jerry, (1911–1973) is one of the most well known traditional tattoo artists.[2]
  • Herbert Hoffmann (1919–2010), began tattooing in Germany during the 1930s. Together with fellow artists Karlmann Richter and Albert Cornelissen he was featured in the 2004 film Blue Skin (German: Flammend' Herz).
  • Amund Dietzel (1890–1974), Norwegian-born artist who began his career as a sailor, before settling in the United States. Known as the "Master in Milwaukee".
  • Bert Grimm (1900–1985), a Chicago-, the St Louis-based artist who moved to Long Beach, California to set up a shop at the Nu-Pike. His parlour was said to be the oldest continually running in the continental US and the place for sailors to get inked. Sold the shop to Bob Shaw in 1970.
  • Bob Shaw (1926–1993), American artist who learned tattooing from Bert Grimm in St Louis. Later worked with Grimm and became the president of the National Tattoo Association from 1983-1988.[3]
Old school tattoo designs

Common old school tattoo motifs[edit]

Examples of popular old school tattoo designs include:

  • Native American tattoos
  • Pin-up tattoos
  • Mermaid tattoos
  • Swallow and sparrow tattoos
  • Heart tattoos
  • Anchor tattoos
  • Eagle tattoos
  • Navy and other armed forces symbols
  • Dagger tattoos
  • Rose tattoos
Example of nautical star

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "From the Stacks" at New-York Historical Society
  2. ^ "Selvedge Yard" The Legend of Sailor Jerry
  3. ^ Clerk, Carol (2009), Vintage Tattoos - The Book of Old-School Skin Art, Universe, pp 12-15.

External links[edit]