The term old school tattoo or traditional as well, makes reference to a very popular style that was in its prime at the beginning of the 20th century. Indeed, when people talk about this style certain personalities such as Normak Keith Collins come to mind, also known as Sailor Jerry, who was a prestigious American tattoo artist at the beginning of the first half of the 20th century.
It may sound exaggerated, but Sailor Jerry is, without a doubt, the one who created this classic-style in tattooing. After his death, Collins handed down his work to two of his colleagues: Ed Hardy and Mike Malone (aka Rollo Banks), who are prominent tattoo artists that will carry on his legacy.
Here I present you Sailor Jerry. The ones who are familiarized with the tattooing world may already know who he is. For all the rest, I have prepared an article further down.
What old school tattoos are like
All right, back on topic. The traditional art of tattooing is also known as “Golden age tattoos”. Some people assure it was the best period and also allege that these designs stand without equal, although at the end of the day it is a matter of taste. These tattoos carry a “Wild Western” kind of style with animal themes, such as horses and eagles, decorated with flowers and other objects such as daggers, cobwebs, anchors, skulls, etc. and, of course, also hearts in many occasions. Colors in this type of tattoos are really simple, which mainly consist of three parts: black ink, solid colors (green, yellow or red usually) and a third part which is the natural color of the skin.
Lines are usually thick, coloring is pretty solid, so we will see shading only on a few occasions. Finally this will give them a unique appearance, generally plain, vintage, the kind that we associate with 19th century history. This is a clear example of a tattoo of this style to which some shading has been applied.