Where did traditional tattoos come from ?

Traditional tattoos – the old favourite

Modern tattoos would be nowhere without the classic traditional tattoo. Also known as old-school, it’s the tattoo style you’ll automatically think of when you picture one in your head.

These bold, impactful brightly coloured designs have evolved a lot since they were first called traditional, but they remain, perhaps, the most popular style out there.

Where did traditional tattoos come from?

This tattoo style evolved from sailors tattooing their bodies with emblems of their maritime life, like ships and fish.

Early tattoo artist legends like Owen Jensen and Bob Shaw developed these skills in the early 20th century. Though tattoos back then were frowned upon by mainstream society, being the penchant for sailors, soldiers, freak-show artists and vagrants.

But it was actually in wartime Hawaii, that Norman Collins, AKA Sailor Jerry, really evolved and developed the style, learning from Japanese tattoo masters, while making the look more American.

He just didn’t innovate the look though, he also improved needle machines so that these tattoos became more and more striking.

How long have traditional tattoos been in Ireland?

Ireland reportedly had tattoo artists back as far as 1900s, however it was the 1960s when Johnny Mallon, or Johnny Eagle Snr opened Ireland’s first ever tattoo studio. Moving to Capel Street soon after, his son Johnny Jr, also got involved in the business and became an internationally renowned artist in the process.

How do I know if a traditional tattoo style is for me?

If you like bold tattoos that are built to last, then you’ll love traditional tattoos

This style stands out by using strong outlines, intense colours and powerful symbolism. Think eagles, roses, snakes, hearts and daggers, or simple lettering etc

If you’re thinking of something like a sleeve, then they are ideal for you too.

And while the traditional tattoo style started off only being for men, there are now lots of great looks and inspiration out there for women too.

Want to know more?

We’re always happy to see you in the Black Hat. So, call in and ask us all about traditional tattoos.

We even have one artist who specialises solely in this style. You can check our traditional tattoo gallery for some inspiration.

You can also book an appointment here.