Old-school Lover

This is the post excerpt.

Tattoos to me are some what of a passion project, more specifically American Traditional Tattoos. I guess the reason why I enjoy this art form is probably the way it’s handled.

So basic and yet so difficult to master. With it’s bold and simplistic art form, American Traditional has such a rich history and like all art anyone who gets a tattoo is subjective. One minute an eagle tattoo could mean freedom and in another an eagle could just be that, an eagle.

Art doesn’t have to have meaning just like tattoos, and what’s great about it is it’s with you forever! You’re the canvas, and you’re the art exhibit. So let’s get inked!

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Three Reason Why You Shouldn’t Get a Tribal

For some damn reason tribal tattoos continue to be popular. I don’t know if it’s because they look cool (which they don’t) or if it’s just easier to tattoo but regardless I’m here to help you if you happen to have one or are thinking of getting one. Here are the top three reasons why you shouldn’t get a tribal.

Number 1) Not all tribal tattoos are created equal.

This is tribal

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Not is tribal.

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See the difference? Good.

Number 2) Know the meaning.

As stated in an earlier post tribal tattoos were the earliest forms of tattooing in the ancient world. Their design consisted of small interconnected lines that wrapped around the persons arm, legs, and torso.

When the finished product was complete it would look like rope or a piece leather armor that metaphorically would protect them with each line representing a person, or an event in a person’s life.

Modern “tribal” tattoos don’t have any meaning! They’re mostly seen as a first tattoo for many people. If you like big, bold squiggly lines all over your body go right a head but people will judge you. I know I will.

Number 3) They’re just plain ugly!

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Need I say more?  If you have one please do yourself a service and remove it immediately, I beg of you, and if you insist on keeping it just know that you’re probably not going to get a girlfriend. Better yet when you do get matching tattoos, I’m sure they’ll be some deep meaning behind your squiggly lines.

 

Top 5 Traditional Artists of All Time

Like in every form of craft there are the best of the best. Those who change the game or influence others. Today we look at the top five traditional tattoo artists.

Number 5: Oliver Peck

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Oliver Peck is best known as a judge of Spike’s reality show Ink Master. a show that judges and critiques, you guessed it, tattoos. Unlike most tattoo artists in the late 90s, where they tend to go the route of either neo-traditional, Japanese traditional, or realistic portraits, Peck continued that old-school feel of bold lines and limited color pallet. In a way he helped bring old-school traditional back to its former glory. Peck owns and operates his own shop, Elm Street Tattoo, in Dallas, Texas.

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Number 4: Dan Smith

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Unlike Oliver Peck who does just American Traditional, Dan Smith does a variety of styles. He started out as a Japanese traditional artist but over in the past six years has he started to dip his feet in the old-school pond. A quick up and comer in the American traditional game, Dan Smith is an example that you don’t need to just start with American Traditional to be great at it! Currently owns and operates Capture Tattoo in Tustin, California.

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Number 3: Quyen dinh

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You might have seen her stuff on tumblr or instagram but she is indeed not at a tattoo artist! Quyen Dinh does not tattoo anyone, rather she paints and draws American Traditional art and has garnered a cult following throughout the tattoo world. Most who want to get a traditional tattoo usually uses her art as a reference point to what they want, and boy do they want her art!

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Number 2: Herbert Hoffman

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Herbert Hoffman wasn’t a American at all. In fact he was German but his influence around the world is with out a doubt extraordinary. He helped popularize the traditional tattoo art through out the world and with out him we wouldn’t see traditional art was we know it today.

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Number 1:  Sailor Jerry

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Considered the creator of American Traditional, Norman Collins, better known as Sailor Jerry, introduced tattoos to American sailors in the late 50s and through out most of the 60s. He started the foundation of all traditional artists continue to follow to this day. Big bold lines, a limited color pallet, and American themes. Even 50 years after his death his influence still contiues in the likes of Dan Smith, Quyen Dinh, and Oliver Peck.

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How Freaks and Warriors Made America Obsessed with Tattoos

Similar to the great Renaissance art, tattoos have a long and fascinating history. From mummies to sailors we look back on how we got so obsessed with tattoos.

Body modification, more specifically tattoos, have been around for at least 5,000 years. Some art historians and archaeologists theorize that it’s been around longer however, it’s not likely mostly due to the lack of organic evidence. Which basically means there’s no way to get prehistoric skin but there are few exceptions.

Otzi, a frozen mummified Paleolithic man contains the earliest evidence of tattoo. They were basically rudimentary and boring tattoos, mostly just lines and small crosses nothing too complex.

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However, fast forward 2,000 years to East Asia in areas such as Japan, China and Polynesia you start to see tattoos get more complex as well as flourish in much of these areas. Warriors in both Japan and Polynesia donned tattoos as trophies for victories over their enemies as well as signs of manhood.

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The process was long and excruciatingly painful but to these warriors it was worth the pain.

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However, Western society took longer to get into it. Finally, by the 1700s sailors on Captain James Cook’s crew first chose to get tattoos as mementos of their journey to the great tattoo cultures of Japan, China and the Pacific Islands. And that’s pretty much how it stayed for the next 200 years or so.

The closest tattoos brushed against accessibility was on the arms of enlisted servicemen (mostly sailors), freaks and hobos. Pretty much the underground/ back culture of those times.

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Then came World War II and American sailors and marines were thrust into the East Asia for war. As they battled some saw the body art that was seen on the bodies of dead Japanese soldiers and were fascinated by their complex art.

Many chose to either get stuff just like it or imitate their art and through these soldiers and artists many copied Japan’s traditional big bold style and gave it an American feel. Instead of a dragon flying around, you’d have an eagle with an anchor and a US flag wrapped around it.

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They were bright, beautiful, easy, and simple and through its simplicity it gave many artists ideas on how to approach their art and create new styles of original work, unlike those of Otzi the Iceman 5,000 years prior. As soldiers and sailors continued to get tattooed so did their kids and their kids and so on.

However by the end of World War II and through out the later part of the 20th century, tattoos were still seen as a part of the counter-culture and less desirable but as more and more people started getting tattooed the more it became acceptable.

Of course you still have to hide the occasional embarrassing tribal or lower back tattoo but that shouldn’t stop anyone from being a little weird and like all art, tattoos are subjective.