9+ Traditional Tattoos

Traditional tattoos are different from the more contemporary styles in very obvious and often flamboyant ways. Also called old-school tattoos, they originated in the early 1900s in the West and are notable for their strong black lines and distinct (though limited) color palette.

Thinking of getting some permanent ink done? If you’re not the sort to go for the small-and-simple, modest, and minimalist tattoo designs, you’ve come to the right place for some great, all-out traditional tattoo ideas.

Featured in this collection are examples of authentic American traditional tattoo concepts as well as some daring Eastern-inspired, Spanish-infused, and religious-themed designs.

Awesome Traditional Tattoo

Awesome Traditional Tattoo

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Traditional Tattoo of Freehand Geisha

Traditional Tattoo of Freehand Geisha

Floral Traditional Tattoo

Floral Traditional Tattoo

Traditional Tattoo of Goddess

Traditional Tattoo of Goddes

Religious Sleeve Tattoo

Religious Sleeve Tattoo

 

A Colorful Past and a Brave Future

Tattoo art has a long history in various cultures that hadn’t heard of each other when they first started. The aborigines had their style, and the Filipinos, African bushmen, Maoris, and Native Americans had theirs. Today among the most distinct styles is the one started in the West.

Traditional, classic, or old-school tattoos hark back to the early 18th-century America, where the traditional tattoo artists had a much more limited palette of ink to choose from than we have today.

The American traditional tattoo artists invented the stylistic elements we most recognize and admire in the traditional tattoo portfolio such as

  • bold, black outlines;
  • minimal shading;
  • a restricted color scope: green, red, yellow (sometimes blue or brown); and
  • iconic concepts popular in those days: navy and army symbols, heart-and-dagger or skulls, eagles and swallows, pinup girls, banners and ribbons with mottos. (These days we are seeing a trend in incorporating religious symbols and other native animals.)

From this apparent scarcity in resources was born one of the most influential styles in mainstream tattoo art.

Not surprising. After all, genius is in astounding simplicity, and creativity is in artistic subtraction.

Whether you are thinking of getting a classic montage needle-inked across your chest or are contemplating the perfect designs for a full sleeve of arm tattoos, the traditional side of the spectrum has a lot to offer. This portfolio of some of the bolder, doable designs are testament to that.

Feminine Traditional Tattoo

Feminine Traditional Tattoo

Traditional Tattoo with Skull

Traditional Tattoo with Skull

Traditional Tattoo of Deer

Traditional Tattoo of Deer

Conceptual Traditional Tattoo

Conceptual Traditional Tattoo

Beautiful Traditional Tattoo

Beautiful Traditional Tattoo

 

Is Traditional For You?

The old-school style has lasted this long for good reason. A lot of people who decide to get their bodies permanently adorned are attracted to the traditional style for its boldness and its iconic features. Its promise to decorate wildly and stand out is at the core of why tattoos were invented in the first place.

Contrary to some ideas, the traditional tattoo is not just for the macho and the uber-masculine or even for the uncouth. There is a lot of class and erudition drawn into many of the possible concepts.

  • For one example of many, compare the Beautiful Traditional Tattoo on this list with the Traditional Tattoo of Deer. They practically ooze with culture and a certain refined courage as well as a love for nature.
  • For other examples, look at the religious, the floral, and the Eastern (Geisha) pieces. They show how, just short of being 3D tattoo designs, other concepts can be inked in the traditional fashion to pop out and be standalone pieces of art from every slant and personality and culture.

We don’t need an affinity for the old concepts to love the old-school style. Done right, we can be walking canvases showcasing art that means the most to us in an art form that never dies.

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