Keep It Classic: The ‘Sailor Jerry’ Tattoo

Thinking about a Sailor Tattoo ? When deciding what you want your next tattoo to look like, whether it is your first or an addition to an existing work of body art.  Choosing a style can be difficult. With so many options available, a classic type of body art has the potential to be your most viable choice. The clean line work, rich use of color, and charming subject matter makes the Sailor Jerry tattoo style distinct, popular, and timeless.

sailor tattoo


Born Norman Collins. This Navy veteran was nicknamed “Sailor Jerry” by his tattoo patrons in Pearl Harbor during World War II. He singlehandedly created a counterculture by inking young servicemen who would otherwise be considered clean-cut and conservative. He also used revolutionary and effective tattoo gun designs, sterilization precautions, and the usage of purple ink. Jerry’s style, now coined as “old school” still influences modern tattoo artists in American and worldwide, perhaps more than ever.

Distinguishable Characteristics

Sailor tattoos are easily distinguished by their simplistic, crisp outlining contrasting with dramatic color saturation. Minimalistic shading is also a prevalent characteristic.

Common Subjects

The most common subjects represented in traditional Sailor Jerry tattoos are sparrows, pin-up girls, dagger-skewered hearts and scroll banners. In addition countless coastal-inspired objects such as anchors, nautical stars, and ships in full sail. Although these items are typically seen in a Sailor Tattoo, any subject can be tweaked to accommodate this style.

To learn more about this and other tattoo styles, how to select a Las Vegas tattoo artist, and how to book an appointment contact us any time.  Since 1995 the Skin Factory has been the go to place in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada for all types of tattoo style.  If you are unsure about a first tattoo, pop by and talk with one of our friendly tattoo artists.

Sailor Tattoo – A blog by the Skin Factory Tattoo & Body Piercing shop in Las Vegas

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