Traditional tattoos make for some of the best looking and longest lasting body art out there, and to celebrate the merits of this timeless style, we gathered some of our favorite examples of the genre that we’ve seen lately to share with you. These pieces illustrate the many nuances that artists bring to the style. Though they all fall under the catch-all term “traditional,” each tattooist showcased here has a distinctive aesthetic that sets their work apart from the crowd.
Some of traditional motifs that attract us most are lady heads and pinups. Kate Collins’ punk rocker girls made a strong impression on us, and Claire Hampshire’s celebrity portraits — as seen in her depiction of Alabama from the film True Romance — left us starstruck. However, it was Kati Vaughn’s Sailor Jerry style erotic Zippos that got the biggest rise out of us.
There were numerous other traditional bangers that caught our attention as well, like Jacob Rivera’s blackwork dagger stabbed through a tiger’s head. His use of bold lines and minimal stippling makes for some of the most cutting monochromatic imagery around.
We also like our traditional wild and weird, so when we saw Robert Ryan's (who recently published a book of his mystical paintings) original psychedelic design as well as Aaron Hodges’ surreal spin on the style, it made us reconsider what can constitute a great traditional piece of body art or reality for that matter.
Some of the most spectacular traditional tattoos that we ran across were the large-scale ones, like Florian Santus’ eagle and a dragon locked in mortal combat. With his back-piece full of mermaids and other seafaring imagery, Bradley Kinney reminded us of the maritime roots of the style, and Valerie Vargas enthralled us with her take on the classic Rock of Ages design.
If you’re in the mood to check out more bangers and back-pieces, head over to these artists’ Instagrams or click on the links to some of our articles about their work. If you’re market for a traditional tattoo of your own, we suggest that you commission one of them to do it.