OLD SCHOOL TATTOOS
Old School Tattoos
Old School tattoos are also referred to as ‘Old Skool’ or ‘American Traditional’ tattoos.
Older tattoo aficionados may also refer to them as ‘Nautical Tattoos’, but no matter what you call them, there is no doubt they are an extremely well known and very popular style of tattooing.
For many they are a first choice when it comes to being inked.
Proof is seen in the fact that these designs continue to stand the test of time; this type of tattoo is the origin of modern Western tattoos.
What is an Old School Tattoo Design?
Old school designs are generally two-dimensional images of low intricacy and detail that can come complete with bold colors through the use of a straightforward color palette.
Pioneer tattoo artists throughout the 1800’s inked designs such as:
- Pin ups
- Banners / Flags
These tattoos were bold, came with little or no shading and consisted of blue/black outlines that were more often than not filled with either solid red, green or both colors, (although blue, purple, yellow and brown were occasional additions).
Why Do We Always Hear About “Sailor Jerry” Tattoos?
The Father of the Old School tattoo art movement is undoubtedly Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins (1911-1973).
An outspoken, larger than life character, Sailor Jerry had a real passion and very special talent for Old School tattooing.
To this day he is honored by Old School artists and tattoo lovers the world over.
His Old School tattoo style incorporated thicker lines with inspiration being derived from nautical as well as military designs. Think:
Sailor Jerry has certainly inspired subsequent generations of Old School artists in their quest of perfecting and modifying such iconic designs.
What Different Old School Design Are There?
It must be said that the range of Old School tattoo designs is huge.
On top of this, thanks to advances in tattoo equipment technology, and the ever-increasing skill and imagination of those artists who specialise in Old School inkings you will not be short of choice.
Here’s a selection of classic designs that remain ever-popular in today’s tattoo world and are consistently ranked as the most popularly requested:
Old School Anchor Tattoo
Representative as a symbol of strength and stability, anchors are popular in terms of relationship tattoos.
They are also the prime choice of couples who share a love of the sea (not to mention sailors who have long favored anchor designs).
Old School Nautical Star Tattoo
This symbol is also fitting for sailors, but it can be the perfect design for those who love travel.
The nautical star will guide them on their journey. In terms of placement; Wrists or arms make an excellent choice.
Old School Swallow Tattoo
While David Beckham’s swallow hand tattoo certainly courts attention, these seafaring bird designs were extremely popular long before he was born!
Swallows travel for miles and miles and are a constant favorite for those who love the sea and travel.
An additional joy of such a design is that you can place them just about anywhere.
Popular choices are: Shoulders, wrists, ankles and back.
Old School Mermaid Tattoo
The alluring beauty and mystery of mermaids is a firm favorite when it comes to Old School designs.
A skilled tattoo artist can really bring these images to life with classic and colorful body art
. Let your mermaid design of choice constantly sing out to you.
Old School Banner Tattoo
Timeless and ever-popular, banner and ribbon designs really can say it all.
Whether that be the name of a family member, someone special or a slogan, the choice is yours and the meaning is your very personal memory.
The inclusion of a small heart can add an extra touch to a truly individual design.
Old School Luscious Ladies Tattoo
Old School Pin-up style and Retro lady designs have come on in leaps and bounds.
These seductive portrait pieces have a true Old School flavor.
Asian inspired designs have long been favorites due to their beauty, mystery and appeal.
Wearing one of these designs will certainly get your tattoo noticed.
Old School Glass Bottles Tattoo
With this design you will certainly get your message over!
The range of unique designs is huge.
Whether you want to send a letter that floats on the waves, pay homage to those wild party nights during a particular period of your life, or remind yourself (and others!) that you have now chosen the path of sobriety, the choice really is yours.
What is more, you can add a whole host of images inside or around your bottle(s).
Old School Eagle Tattoo
Another icon of the Old School tradition.
An eagle relates to freedom and makes it a perfect design for those with a free-spirit.
In terms of size the choice is yours.
Small eagles can be placed on the hands or neck while those who go for a large eagle design on their chest or back really will have a tattoo that stands out with significance.
Old School Cards Tattoo
A mainstay of the Old School tattoo designs.
Having card(s) inked shows the unpredictability of any game you play.
It also reflects well on those who have a game changing attitude.
Old School Dice Tattoo
Everyone has a lucky number, why not throw the dice and have yours inked on either a single or pair of dice?
When placed properly this Old School design will certainly get noticed.
Old School Big Cats Tattoo
Lions, Tigers, Leopard or Lynx – Whatever your favorite big cat you can have it inked in Old School style.
The coloring on these inkings can make such a design even more impressive, plus, Big Cats are not to be messed with!
Old School Undying Love Tattoo
Rather than the sweet ‘lovey-dovey’ designs often displayed you can take an inanimate skull and decorate it with swords extending out of each side.
The skull can have petals and roses to further enhance the statement of undying love towards that special person.
Old School Hourglass Tattoo
This is a big fave with the girls but is also popular with guys. It is one of the oldest designs and dependent upon where placed can certainly look erotic.
Standing mainly for time; the sands of time which are either slowly slipping by or going all too quickly.
Old School Skull Tattoo
It’s easy to mistake the skull as having negative connotations but that is far from the case.
Skulls have long been a symbol of death but represented in a positive way – to remind ourselves to make the most of our lives!
The skull is an Old School classic and one that remains as relevant today as it always has.
Old School Stabbed Heart Tattoo
A bright red heart in Old School design can look extremely realistic.
Add to that a dagger running through its middle and surrounding artwork of your choice and you have a very arresting tattoo.
Old School Fearsome Dagger Tattoo
Not for the faint hearted! When well inked the dagger can be accompanied by a skull, hearts, anything else you desire.
Its design connotations include emotions such as: Fierceness and Peril.
Old School Spider Web Tattoo
The spider web as a tattoo design has had both positive and negative connotations over the years.
In the late 20th Century Spider Web tattoos were heavily associated with Prisoners, and in particular skinhead gangs.
However this isn’t the only thing they’ve been associated with.
In the Native American culture the spider web has had very positive connotations, particularly seen often in dreamcatchers which are well known in the West.
These days the negative connotations have vastly faded and people have reclaimed spider web tattoos as being a positive and beautiful design.
Old School Original Rose Tattoo
While many who have a rose inked do so in a neo traditional design, don’t dismiss having it completed as an old school tattoo.
By doing so it has a touch of originality and can look far more exclusive.
Old School Snake Tattoo
Snakes represent both power and potency and are a popular Old School style.
They are often shown coiled tight and ready to strike, as a representation of warding off bad luck, evil or even people wanting to attack the wearer.
Old School Ship Tattoo
For a sailor, the ship represented both their home and their workplace, so they would often get a ship tattoo as a memento of their time on the seas.
Over time, the ship became an emblem of both travel and adventure and is a great way to commemorate a memorable trip.
Thinking Outside The Box With Your Design
The ALL DAY tattoo studio in central Sukhumvit, Bangkok is one of the very few fully licensed tattoo studios in Thailand’s capital city.
Due to our stringent hygiene regulations, relaxed, friendly, comfortable yet professional attitude and the fact we have experienced, internationally recognized Old School tattoo artists we are consistently rated as the #1 tattoo studio in Bangkok.
Anyone visiting Bangkok who is looking for the ultimate Old School tattoo should not hesitate to contact our native English speaking team to discuss their needs.
If you have a fixed and firm idea of the Old School design you are after, that is fine.
We can complete in every detail you have in mind.
However, if like many, you have an ‘idea’ but are in need of artist inspiration you really should make the ALL DAY Tattoo studio your first port of call.
Our artist involvement in helping you finalize a design which is right for you (not the one which is easiest to complete, or the most expensive!) is just one of the many factors that make the:
ALL DAY Tattoo Studio Your ‘Go To Tattoo Studio In Bangkok’
The ALL DAY studio artists who specialise in Old School designs pride themselves on originality and unique artistry.
Something that is not easy to find elsewhere.
To give you an idea of just how ready and willing we are to provide you with a totally unique, Old School tattoo experience, one you will savor for a long time to come, here are just 5 recommendations that will help you choose that killer design:
- Yes, there is plenty of information online and this should certainly be studied, as should a studio’s “flash” designs for additional reference, but don’t allow this to become the be all and end all of your decision choice.
Take along images of designs you like and openly discuss options with the studio.
- While the internet is rather large(!) in terms of an old school design source, spread your wings a little.
Take in historical buildings, museums, modern constructions, sights seen in foreign travel (keeping just half an eye open while wandering the vibrant streets of Bangkok will give you ideas galore!).
Anything that catches your eye and inspires can be considered. A committed tattoo artist will tell you if your idea works as an old school design.
- Got a real favorite classic movie or novel? These are great when it comes to ideas and inspiration for that unique Old School design.
- Spend time with your chosen studio to ensure the design you are after is the design you will get.
- Size, coloring and body placement will have a huge effect on the appearance of your Old School design. Come along with your own preference, but also be prepared to take expert advice.
Even Old School Flash Can Be Unique
The ALL DAY tattoo studio has resident, internationally recognized Old School tattoo artists that are ready to deliver exactly the design you are looking for.
Whether that be a design you have firmly in mind or one that needs an extra special touch of flair.
We are fully committed to delivering a unique, personal piece of Old School body art you will be very proud to wear.
For a ‘no obligation’ discussion why not get in touch with us using one of the contact methods below.
Getting your Old School design of choice inked with us offers Old School tattoos that are second to none.
Now, let’s take a look at one of the tattoo styles that is often mentioned alongside Old School tattoos – New School.
What Are New School Tattoos?
You may have heard of New School tattoos and wonder what they are, and how they relate to Old School tattoos?
Although often strikingly different in terms of concept and delivery, this style does share some elements with Old School.
First of all, let’s take a look at what New School tattoos are, and where they came from?
New School Tattoo Origins
Although it looks like a very different style, the beginnings of New School tattoos really developed out of the same environment that created Old School – that of American Traditional tattooing.
At the beginning tattooing was really an underground subculture, with artists being very closed off from sharing information, both with aspiring artists and customers.
It wasn’t unusual for you to be unable to get a tattoo unless you could get a personal introduction with an artist.
It was definitely the case that you wouldn’t be able to learn the secrets of a Tattoo Master without being selected personally by them and working very hard, often paying large sums for the privilege while doing “rookie work” like cleaning, for the chance to learn the trade.
In fact, a lot of the “us and them” mentality that still exists in the tattoo world really came from this period in its history.
At ALL DAY Tattoo we have always felt that this is highly unnecessary in the Modern World!
There exists in every area of the world experts in their field that others need to approach to help them to realize their vision and we feel that people who want to get a tattoo should be treated with kindness, patience and respect.
The Rebirth of Pop Culture Influences the Tattoo World
Although some may argue New School had its true origins in the 1970s, the style really had its heyday in the 1990s.
The Western World as a whole had 2 cultural phenomenons that really defined the period – that of the arrival of the internet, and the explosion of pop culture.
The lead not only to the gradual opening up of tattoo styles, which could now be showcased, shared and discussed online but also the changing tastes of the clients that wanted to get tattoos.
It is during this period that some artists began to move on from the flatter, simpler Old School tattoos and use new techniques and inks to innovate a new style – New School.
This style is defined by bright (often neon) colors, exaggerated and surreal versions of usually pop culture imagery.
What Are The Most Popular New School Designs?
Although the style drew widely from different sources, the most popular subjects were:
- Cartoon characters
- Anime characters
- Popular games
- Comic books
- TV show characters
What Do Old School and New School Tattoos Have in Common?
Both styles generally work with solid black outlines to contain the colors, as well as enough spacing in the design to deliver the subject matter in a clear, sharp way.
Is New School Still a Relevant Tattoo Style?
As with all things in art – this is an individual choice to make.
New School as a style really came into fashion in the 1990s and by the early 2000s had mostly faded away, with many of the artists working in that style moving into the more refined and timeless Neo Traditional style.
New School tattoos are still as bright, bold and beautiful as ever however clients interested in the style should check out OId School and Neo Traditional tattoo styles first to see if that might be something they prefer.