Feb 20 , 2023
Old school is cool. American traditional tattoos are the easiest tattoo style to identify. This style is a part of the American tattoo tradition and has evolved into more intricate styles, making them persist as one of the most popular styles today. Our Los Angeles tattoo artists each give their work an individualized flair when creating these pieces of American art.
Though traditional American tattoos include a variety of themes and styles, there are some specific guidelines that define this style. While they are somewhat open to interpretation, these guidelines are also why this type of tattooing persists and is distinct from other tattoo styles. American traditional tattoo artists seek to explore avenues for creativity within certain bounds. It is essential that, down to its basic elements, American traditional tattoos tie back to what originally made them distinctive.
As we read on, we will explore the essential elements that define this style, and learn what has made the traditional American tattoo style endure well into this century:
American Traditional Tattoos Look Good on Any Skin Tone
One essential element that makes American traditional tattoos distinctive is their highly saturated colors. Combined with typically simple designs, the thick and bold black outlines complemented by substantial blocks of saturated blues, reds, and yellows work well regardless of the recipient's skin tone.
The figures formed in traditional American tattoos don't strive toward realism. Instead, designs look more like drawings. American traditional tattoos are 2D, thereby, don't require much shading, though minimal shading is present on specific details.
The general simplicity of the designs, the bold and dark outlines, limited shading, and saturated colors make them work well on any skin tone.
American Traditional Tattoos Age Better
Those thick black lines and saturated colors are more robust and resist becoming washed out better than other styles with more detailed patterns and thinner lines. The colors for traditional American tattoos stay with basic tones, such as red, blue, and green. Grays and shading, which are more susceptible to being washed out over time, are limited. However, once traditional American tattoos age, they tend to take on a characteristic fade that, for many people, adds to their charm.
American Traditional Tattoos Have a Long and Colorful History
Tattoos themselves have a long history before taking off in America. Sailors and pirates showed appreciation for this art by getting tattoos to document their travels and mark milestones. Their tattoos become the map of all the places they had been and the struggles they met during their journey. Even the word has maritime origins, as the word tattoo originates from the Polynesian term "tatau."
Before World War II, tattoos were mostly donned by sailors or people on the fringes of society. However, this art form took off in America once soldiers returned home and brought the love of tattoos with them. Especially popular were those with patriotic symbols, such as the American flag, the bald eagle, anchors, and more.
Though technological advances, such as a broader choice of tattoo pigments, thinner needles, and better tattoo machine designs, have ushered in more complicated tattoo styles, such as neo-traditional, fine line, and realistic tattoos, the clean solid lines, saturated colors, and charm of traditional American tattoos persist through present day.
As one of the centers of the art of tattooing, Los Angeles has been a staging point for some popular American traditional tattoo styles, such as the Chicano and Asian-influenced tattoo styles drawn using the same guidelines. Today, many enthusiasts are drawn to the old-world charm of traditional American tattoos because of their exceptional qualities.
There Are a Broad Selection of Traditional American Tattoo Styles to Choose From
As more people began to embrace the traditional American tattoo style, the themes and designs began to evolve. No longer reserved for soldiers and sailors, people from all walks of life and occupations started getting tattoos. Though technological advancements and thinner needles began to be introduced in the 70s, which enabled the creation of newer and more intricate tattoo styles, the traditional American style persisted with the same specific characteristics.
The vibrant culture of Los Angeles and Southern California made it one of the most active tattoo capitals in the world. Its cosmopolitan culture helped produce several variations of the traditional American tattoos that were a class of their own, such as the Japanese style and Chicano style. As for the most popular types, here are some of them:
American Traditional Lettering Tattoos
To classify them under traditional American tattoos, some elements are essential for lettering tattoos. One of the specific features is how the lettering looks clean and written straight up and down. The letters are in a block style with characteristic serifs on the edge of the letters. Artists may shade the bottom half of the letters, or make slight variations for a unique touch, to give them a stylish look.
Animals, such as sharks and big cats, are a few of the most popular traditional American tattoo themes today. They symbolize the inherent characteristics of the recipient. Enthusiasts may also get animal tattoos simply because they admire these creatures. Today, some animal tattoos take on modern themes with pop culture references.
Whether a portrait of a loved one, a celebrity, or an old-school figure of a person, American traditional tattoo-style portraits are very popular. Since these portrait tattoos don't have to be realistic, you don't have to fear the accuracy of the artist's rendition of the tattoo.
Though feminine in theme, flower tattoos are a popular theme for everyone. The saturated colors used for traditional American tattoos are perfect for creating old-school renditions of flowers that look good on everyone. Today, some recipients prefer getting these types of tattoos on their hips.
Ship and Nautical-Themed Tattoos
One of the classic traditional tattoo themes, ships, and sea creatures, hark back to the origins of traditional American tattoos. Typical ship tattoos depict sailing ships. Though a more modern take is possible because of thinner needles and the availability of a wide range of tattoo pigment colors, the thick black lines, minimal shading, and most saturated colors mean nautical themes are still alive and popular.
For the Best American Traditional Tattoos in Los Angeles, Visit Darlin' Rose Social Club
Our tattoo artists are experts in the art of traditional American tattoos. This tattoo style is deeply ingrained in our culture and has been revived because more people embrace the beauty and appeal of old-school skin art. Though this style does not strive for realism with its thicker black lines and saturated colors, only dedicated experts can create American traditional tattoos worthy of being called such. To learn more about traditional American tattoos and tattoo artists in our tattoo shop in Los Angeles, call us at (323) 879-9407. Book an appointment if you have an artist in mind and are excited to get inked with a brand new American traditional tattoo.