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120+ Great American Traditional Tattoo Designs & Meanings – 2017 Ideas

American Traditional Tattoo

Over the years, the American traditional tattoos or what are also referred to as the old school tattoos have inevitably become part of the modern culture. Although the name old school or traditional might sound ancient to some people, these tattoos have been accepted as a modern style of art.

As the name suggests, this are the earlier types of tattoos that most people used to get as the culture of tattooing was becoming trendy half a century ago.

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American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

The old school tattoos fell out of trend for a few decades as the modern styles were born, but they are now back and are not going anywhere anytime soon.

As their popularity continues to increase you are more likely to want one at some point and so it is important to understand some of the common types of these tattoos.

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

Types of American Traditional Tattoos

There is probably no other animal that is as important as the eagle in the American heritage. The eagle can be found in many national symbols and emblems, and it also represents several things.

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

Due to the unique place that this animal holds in the American society people have always idolized it by having it inked on them. The traditional American eagle tattoo is a simple image, and it is usually drawn as part of another tattoo or combined with other images like the American flag.

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

  • Traditional Native American Tattoos

Native Americans are among the few people in North America who have managed to keep their traditions and culture intact despite all the outside influence.

This preservation of their culture is what has always made many people admire them and to show these people have different things associated with their culture inked on them. The dreamcatcher is the most popular Native American symbol that has been used in tattoos.

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

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However, it is not the only Native American tattoo as there are several others. Other examples of this type of tattoos include the Indian head and the tribe apparel both of which have been widely tattooed.

Most of these tattoos are usually combined with earthly elements to show how much the natives value the environment.

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

Sailors used to have the anchor tattooed on them as they believed that it would help them not to go astray during the many months that they would spend away from their families. Due to the symbolism of these tattoos almost all the sailors had to have one and soon they also spread to non-sailors.

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

The anchor is drawn in different variations and patterns, and it is also often combined with other old school tattoos.

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

  • Traditional Rose Tattoos

Roses mean pure love, and so they have been used as tattoo images to show this for many years. Although the traditional American roses are very simple and are not as colorful as the new school ones, they still manage to bring out this message clearly.

Despite the lack of the many colors associated with modern flower tattoos, there is a certain unique look that only the traditional roses can give a tattoo wearer.

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo


American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

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This five-pointed and two-toned star has become purely aesthetic over the years but traditionally it was a maritime symbol that was associated with navigation.

Sailors used the nautical star to express their desire to get back home safely from the journeys that took them thousands of miles away from home for several months.

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

They could also use the tattoo to express their desire to go through life safely despite all the challenges they might come across in the journey of life.

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

Besides from the beautiful designs that this type of tattoos comes in it also has several meanings. For some people, the ship represents the wearer and so the design of the ship in the tattoo will tell you a lot about them. The water in that the ship is sailing on usually represents life.

Depending on the message intended the waters in the tattoo may be stormy or smooth as each one can be interpreted to tell a different story about the wearer’s life.

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

Beside from the symbolic meaning, these american traditional tattoos are fabulous, and so some people will have them inked on them for their beauty or to show their love for ships.

Although it is considered a traditional American tattoo, this tattoo draws inspiration from the British sailing tradition. In the early years, swallow were used to represent a British sailors experience, and each was thought to represent 5,000 nautical miles.

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

American traditional tattoo

This tradition was slowly adopted by American sailors who also started having it inked on them to show their sailing achievements. Just like many other birds the swallow always returns to nest at the same place each year, and so this gave hope to sailors that they will also return home at some point.

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

  • Old School Dagger/Knife Tattoo

A dagger can represent many things, and it is associated with danger, death, and ferocity. However, when drawn well, the traditional dagger tattoo will make an incredible tattoo design.

With this tattoo, there are also many variations to the design and it is combined with other elements like skulls and hearts.

American Traditional Tattoo

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  • Traditional Wolf Tattoos

Traditionally the wolf is an animal that represents ruthless determination due to its character. However, being a pack animal family and friends matter a lot as it cannot survive without them.

The traditional wolf tattoo is usually used to represent excessive greed of hunger for something important in life like wealth, success or even happiness. In some cases, the traditional wolf tattoo can also be used to symbolize that a person has survived a very difficult situation

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

American Traditional Tattoo

New school tattoos and other genres of tattoo have tried to come up with new variations of the skull, but the American traditional skull tattoo still carries the day in terms of appearance. The traditional skull is one of the most popular tattoos, and it is mainly used to represent death.

Some people can also use the tattoo as a sign of rebellion or to signify a form of triumph in life.

American Traditional Tattoo

  • The Traditional Pinups Tattoos

This is another type of traditional American tattoo that originated from sailors. During their sea voyages, sailors were alone for many months, and so they used to miss the presence of a woman even if it is just to look at her. To help remember what they were missing, they would get pin ups girls inked on them.

The pinups were usually images of gorgeous women. Pinups are also quite popular nowadays, and many people will have the images of a girl that they have fantasies about inked on them.

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