Traditional Tattoos – Style, Designs, Ideas, Sketches | InkedWay

Traditional tattoo

Tattoo styles 7 min read Last updated on August 10, 2020

If you appreciate the classics and know the art of tattooing, then traditional tattoo is a great option for you. Despite its long history, tattoos done in the traditional style are still very popular.


  • The main distinctive feature of this style is the thick black contours of the image.
  • Use of bright paints. The gamma range is quite limited. Artists usually use green, blue and red pigments, but in terms of saturation, such tattoos look very bright.
  • Simple and uncomplicated subjects. Tattoos in the traditional style are quite simple to understand and do not have hidden meanings. Often seen are familiar words or phrases (even in a foreign language) and common symbols in sketches. A sailor can opt to get a tattoo of an anchor or a ship; a girl in love can get one of a heart with an arrow. This use of “universal” themes makes the style and its language understandable to any citizen, regardless of country.
  • “Primitive” techniques. Traditional tattoos use a very simple technique. Traditional style originated in distant countries where no mechanization was available, and tattoos were made using simple tools, resulting in simple images.


This style emerged in America in the 1960s. The style first grew in popularity amongst sailors. Captains and their crew inked protective symbols on their bodies, which they believed could protect against storms and help them to return home safely. Tattoos of skulls and crosses were often seen adorning men’s strong arms. Since they were away at sea often, missing their loved ones, they also tattooed on the names of the women they loved or the dates of birth of their children.

Over time, sailors brought this style to Europe, where it also spread and gained popularity.


  • anchors
  • skulls
  • the pirate flag, the “Jolly Roger”
  • crosses
  • hearts
  • mermaids
  • initials of names
  • anchor ropes, closely intertwined with rose stems
  • butterflies
  • a captain’s pipe swirling with smoke
  • sprockets
  • flocks of bird

Often there are traditional drawings with thematic inscriptions such as a motto, a quote from a book.

This style is close to the neo traditional tattooing style, which was actually a response to the limitations of the traditional style.