Tattoo art is one of the most popular forms of body adornment, which has rules the hearts of millions for centuries and continues to be on the pinnacle of popularity even in the modern times. Though creative tattoo artists are continuously working on modern and realistic designs, but the traditional old school tattoos still make hot favorites among tattoo enthusiasts. Basically, old school tattoo designs refer to traditional American styles of tattoos, which feature bold black lines and the color palette of such tattoos is limited. Some of the well known tattoo artists who have been highly regarded in the old school tattoo genre are Sailor Jerry, Amund Dietzel, Herbert Hoffman, Bob Shaw and Bert Grimm.
Popular Old School Tattoo Designs
Old school tattoos are very traditional in nature, with some basic designs making it into this genre, though designers have molded them in many forms to make them contemporary. Here are some popular old school tattoo designs which are in extensive use in modern times too:
- Compass Tattoos – Compass tattoos, which derive their design from the much used navigation device, is one of the most well known old school tattoo designs. It stands for direction and inspires the bearer to take up the right direction in his life, which would take him towards achievement of his goals. The tattoo is popular among sailors, travelers, adventurers and navigators.
- Native American Tattoos – Native American tattoos relate to tribal culture of ancient times and form an important element of old school designs. These tattoos have a strong connection with tribal heritage, in addition to symbolic meanings related to tribal customs and traditions. Some widely used Native American designs are the dreamcatcher, feathers, animals, natural forces and human heads, all having their roots in the Native American culture.
- Heart Tattoos – The heart is regarded as the seat of human emotions and feelings, which is why heart tattoos are related with love, compassion and friendship. These tattoos are most famous form of old school designs, which are preferred by lovers and also borne by people who want to express their feelings towards loved ones, like parents, children, friends and family members. They come in great variety such as sacred heart, winged heart, broken heart, bleeding heart and pierced heart tattoos, each one signifying something different related with the emotions of the heart.
- Swallow Tattoos – Swallows are tiny little birds associated with health, prosperity, loyalty, freedom, protection and strength. Swallow tattoos are a highly appreciated old school design, which were introduced by sailors as a sign of hop of safe homecoming. Later, they were used as a symbol of liberty by people who were freed from the prison, which closely relates swallows with the expression “jail bird”. Gradually, this pretty design became popular and began to be used by common people too.
- Anchor Tattoos – Another popular old school tattoo design is the anchor tattoo, which is not only appreciated for its aesthetic value but also its symbolic meaning. The tattoo stands for determination, faith, hope and belief. These designs have been popularized by celebrities and are liked by both men and women. Many designs are created using design elements like roses, birds, ropes and hearts.
- Eagle Tattoos – One if the most powerful old school tattoo designs is the eagle tattoo, which is a symbolic of American culture and represents strength, freedom, dedication and dedication. Most of eagle tattoos are large and prominent and can be incorporated with words and quotes, in addition to other design elements. The purpose behind it is to add a new meaning to the basic tattoo design.
- Mermaid Tattoos – One of the most fascinating and beautiful among old school tattoos is the mermaid design, which features the grace and charm of this mythical creature. Originally a favorite among the sailors who spend their lives on the sea, these tattoos are now equally popular among women as they look feminine and magical. The design also stands for independence and playfulness.
- Dagger Tattoos – Knives and daggers have been used in old school tattoo designs in abundance, as the symbolize mystery and make an interesting choice for those who want something weird and bizarre to be inked on them. These creative designs may also include elements like skulls, hearts, flowers, feathers and animals, each one giving a different symbolic meaning to the basic dagger tattoo design.
- Rose Tattoos – Rose tattoos make a popular old school tattoo design, as they look extremely beautiful and also have a deeper meaning, which links them with the expression of love and passion. Rose tattoos are featured in various designs such as black rose tattoo, tribal rose tattoos, rose tattoos with name, quotes and words.
- Pin up Tattoos – The glamorous pin up girls used in old school tattoo art have increased the popularity of this tattoo art to a great extent, with these charming and feminine designs attracting tattoo lovers from all over the world. The sexy pin up tattoos are eye catching but equally difficult to ink, which require a lot of expertise at the hand of the tattoo artist.
- Navy/Armed Forces Symbols – Navy and armed forces tattoo designs are highly regarded in the old school tattoo art, as they stand for valor, courage, power and strength, all of which are deeply linked to the armed forces. These assertive looking tattoos feature symbols of the navy and the armed forces, which include guns, weapons, skull, nautical stars and tanks, all of which are related with defense forces. These tattoos are used by navy and army personnel to make a show of their position in the armed forces as well as physical prowess.
All these tattoos which come from the old school tattoo art, boast of unique looks, besides holding a significant deeper meaning, which has made them the original elements of tattoo art. Modern tattoo art draws inspiration from the old school to a great extent, and makes use of these designs in the contemporary tattoo art too.