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Learn To Draw American Traditional Tattoos

How To Get A Tattoo Apprenticeship To Start Your Career

How to draw an American Traditional Tattoo Rose

Training as an apprentice is a traditional step in the process of becoming a tattoo artist. Tattoo apprenticeships give you the opportunity to learn from an experienced mentor who can show you safe methods to permanently tattoo artwork onto your clients. Learning how to get a tattoo apprenticeship is an important aspect of getting started in the tattoo industry and becoming a licensed tattoo artist yourself.

In this article, we explain what a tattoo apprenticeship is, discuss why they’re important for starting your career as a tattoo artist and share advice on finding an apprenticeship where you can begin learning your craft.

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Traditional Tattoo Style Flower Tattoos

See more about 50 Traditional Flower Tattoos

Many floral images have crossed into the traditional ink style lexicon, particularly from Japanese tattoos or tribal tattoo from which American ink has adopted many central tenets.

Blooms such as the lotus, chrysanthemum, cherry blossom, and peony are popular flower tattoo ideas from Japanese design which are used effectively in old school tattoos, while black ink and cool patterns have been adopt from Polynesian tattoos and then reconfigured.

See more about 50 Traditional Eagle Tattoos

The eagle is the US national bird, associated with patriotism and freedom and linked to nobility, strength, and bravery since ancient Roman times.

Most eagle tattoo traditions show the bird with its wings flung out in flight and its talons stretching out to grasp something.

Its fierce nature and proud bearing are emblematic of the American traditional tattoo style.

American Traditional Bat Tattoos

See more about 50 American Traditional Bat Tattoos

Traditional bat tattoos are a radical phenomenon among todays tattoo lovers. This creature is innately enticing and immediately recognizable.

Many shamanistic societies connect bats to psychic powers and intuitive abilities. They are also revered for their supersonic capacities, and many mythological tales connect the bat to rebirth.

Most cultures have native depictions of the bat, so traditional tattoos of this daring creature can be derived from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. By applying a mix-and-match approach, clever creators can even arrive at a masterpiece that is one-of-a-kind.

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+ American Traditional Tattoos Designs With Meanings

Most traditional tattoos are inspired by the traditional American culture but you can also opt for traditional European tattoos or British tattoos. Traditional tattoos are the tattoos that were in trend during the early tattooing days when people used a different ink for tattoos. The tattoo designing art has evolved a lot over the years but many people still admire the traditional tattoos of the early 1900s. Here we picked up 180 amazing traditional tattoos ideas for men and women

Prepare A Professional Portfolio

Pin by Carrie S. on Panther tattoo

Once you choose the works to feature in your portfolio, assemble them so you can display them to potential employers. It’s a good idea to have both an online and a physical copy of your portfolio so you can connect with tattoo artists digitally and in person. Scan your pieces and upload them to a professional website with an online gallery. Then, purchase a portfolio book with a hard case and sheet protectors and display your artwork. You can bring this book with you to tattoo shops as an easy way to advertise your skills to potential mentors.

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Simple American Traditional Tattoo Ideas

See more about 50 Simple American Traditional Style Tattoos

Simple traditional tattoos cross borders and are boundless in their artistic expression. Travel the torrid seas with a nautical compass. Welcome Egyptian eyes or the symbol of life called the Ankh. Unleash the deep roots of American culture with a bald eagle or bear.

The imagination is limitless with potential for these epic tattoos, for they all are deeper than just the inscription that meets the eye.

How To Approach A Shop About An Apprenticeship

When you approach a tattoo shop about an apprenticeship, the impression you make matters. You should:

  • Do your homework

    Learn as much as you can about the shop you want to apprentice at. Familiarize yourself with each artists bio and portfolio, as well as any other key details about the business.

  • Make face-to-face contact

    Dont just call the tattoo shop and talk to someone on the phone. Get your face in their minds by showing up and saying hello. Drop by in the afternoon on a weekday when its least likely to be busy.

  • Treat everyone you meet with respect

    The person you see working the front desk may be an artist covering for the receptionist while theyre out to lunch, or they may be tight with all the artists there. Treat everyone you meet like their opinion of you can make or break your apprenticeship chances are, it can.

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Practice Drawing On Your Own

The first thing you can do to get started is to begin drawing on your own. Keep a sketchbook and a pencil handy to draw in your free time you dont need anything else to take that initial step. Draw things you see, things you think, and things other people describe. Get a feel for whether you truly enjoy drawing and creating art, especially art for other people. Since youll be drawing requests most of the time, its important that youre comfortable creating art that meets the specifications of others.

Traditional Compass Tattoo Ideas

How to Draw American Traditional Tattoo Flash – 0126 – Speed / Time Lapse Drawing Tutorial

See more about American Taditional Compass Tattoos

Compass tattoos often include meanings of protection, guidance, and hope, but they can sometimes be used to show more of a sense of adventure or wanderlust.

Some traditional tattoos depict a retro looking compass encased inside a metal circle, while others just show the eight pointed star inside a compass which is called a compass rose.

Adding roses or other flowers with a romantic symbol often shows that a person is guided home by an undying love. Swallows are often a frequent pairing with a compass design because sailors saw swallows when they were close to land.

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Check Out Some Tattoo Books

Get some books that have lots of pictures of tattoos and flash. Look and see what color combinations other artists use. Use your inking skills to replicate the designs you see.

As you browse through hundreds of examples, you will see that the really amazing tattoos have great line work. That will be your most important skill.

American Traditional Tattoo Meanings Common Elements & Symbols

American attoos include all kinds of symbolism from the most ancient to the most recent ones.

At first sight they seem very lucid, almost absurd, but they have a long history that brought these tattoo designs where they currently are.

Most common motifs are:

These common classic americana tattoo motifs can have universal or a completely personal meaning.

Below we will explore the origin of each of these popular motifs with examples.

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American Traditional Heart Tattoos

Hearts are another classic in the American traditional universe.

They may represent someone the wearer has a soft spot for, making mom a popular choice.

It may also be indicative of someone emotional who wears their heart on their sleeve.

An American traditional heart tattoo with a dagger could represent a betrayal, but it may also symbolize the natural dichotomies in life.

The heart is tender while the dagger is hard.

Most people will experience both romance and hardship in their time on earth, and this tattoo speaks to that inevitability.

Traditional Flash For Old School Tattoos

American Traditional Tattoo Flash Sheet Print

When a tattoo artist talks about flash designs, theyre referring to a wall of available artwork.

Modern tattoos are more about customization, and to copy a special piece is a big no-no in the world of tattoos.

Flash art is cool because you can reach back in time and get the very same tattoo as one of your relatives.

They tie you to the history of tattoos in America.

For the longest time, standard Old School flash art didnt have a name.

It was just the only option. You would walk into a tattoo shop, pick a design, and then go on your merry way with a new piece of ink.

Whats more, you likely only paid $3 for the whole experience.

Once tattooing grew beyond those first shops, different styles began to emerge.

As this happened, it was necessary to have terms like Old School and flash.

Some modern artists will create their own flash panels for special events.

At these events, people can get inexpensive tattoos if they are willing to have the same design as someone else.

It is a fun way to promote a tattoo shop, get to know a community, or sometimes raise money for charity.

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Neo Traditional Tattoo Style

Neo traditional, as the name implies, is an evolution of the traditional style. It features the core properties of its predecessor, like pronounced linework and extremely vibrant colors but it also has an illustrative quality to it. This is because Neo traditional artists are highly influenced by Art Nouveau and Art Deco aesthetics. The main difference between traditional tattoos and neo traditional tattoos is that neo traditional tattoos often have a broader color palette and a broader range of motifs. Pieces done in this style are known for their lush, decorative details as well as the use of natural imagery such as florals and animals.

Traditional Ink Horse Designs

See more about 40 Traditional Horse Tattoo Ideas

Free-spirited and independent, the horse is a symbol of passion and strength. A traditional and easily-recognized subject for tattoos, the horse is an excellent piece to expand your tattoo collection.

Strong as iron and fast as quicksilver, the horses natural features are a prime choice for those who admire its natural strength and grace, flowing mane and muscular body.

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What To Look For In A Mentor

Its important to do your due diligence when searching for a tattoo artist to apprentice under. Look for an artist who:

  • Works at a reputable tattoo shop

    Make sure they abide by basic hygiene guidelines and have plenty of clients. Avoid tattoo shops who seem to be empty, who cant tell you about their hygiene practices, or that you just get a bad vibe in.

  • Has mentored an apprentice before

    Mentoring is difficult even for the most seasoned tattoo artist. Look for someone who has taken an apprentice before, so they have a better idea of what works and what doesnt.

  • Who can challenge you

    The artist you choose to mentor you should be able to challenge you, hold you accountable, and push you past your limits. Dont choose a mentor who seems too easy-to-please a laissez-faire approach wont help you in the long run.

Master Flash With The Artist Accelerator Program

How to draw a traditional eagle tattoo!

For most new tattoo artists, trying to draw flash designs means staring at a blank page for hours with nothing coming to mind. They feel stuck because of the pressure to come up with a bunch of great new ideas every day. And when they do get through a design, it never looks the way they want it to.

Being told what to draw while someone explains which elements look good on skin gets artists out of their own heads so they can spend more time drawing and learning how to create great tattoo designs.

This is why we created the 30-Day Flash Challenge. It guides you through a structured program that tells you what to draw each day. By the end of the month, youve built up the fundamentals you need to create designs that clients love on your own.

If you want instant access to the 30-Day Flash Challenge, as well as our full course that can take you from complete beginner to professional tattoo artist in as little as 90 days

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Traditional Tattoos: The Ultimate Guide With The Best Examples

Explore the history, designs and artists within the Traditional tattooing style.

  • Although Captain Cook and his crew are often cited as the beginning of the Traditional tattoo trend, tattoo historian Anna Felicity Friedman notes that explorer Charles Pierre Claret de Fleurieu spoke about tattoos around Europe much before Cooks voyage.
  • Part of the reason why American Traditional tattoos are so popular is that Americans have been involved in almost every single war since 1775, and both soldiers and sailors who had tattoos often traveled when participating in these wars.
  • Sailor Jerry, Mildred Hull, Don Ed Hardy, Sailor Jerry, Bert Grimm, Lyle Tuttle, and more, are some of the people who made American Traditional famous.
  • Valerie Vargas, Stewart Robson, Shaun Topper, Beau Brady, Katie Gray, Alex Zampirri, and so many more continue on the legacy of American traditional tattooing.
  • Artists of Traditional Tattooing
  • Bold black lines that etch out the image of a wing spreading eagle, a rose encrusted anchor, or ship at sea…these are only some images that may come to mind when Traditional tattooing comes to mind. Part art movement, part social phenomena, the United States has created a style of ink that is all its own. Truly an important facet of American culture, we expound upon the history, designs and artists of this famed tattoo aesthetic.

    How To Design American Traditional Tattoos

    American Traditional ink makes up some of the most widely requested and recognizable tattoos out there. This particular tattoo style has been prominent for almost a century, and every tattoo style we have now has spawned from this one style. The tattoo industry as we know it today wouldnt be what it is now without the advent of the American Traditional style. We looked into what the style is, where it came from, and some things that you need to consider when youre getting a Traditional tattoo.


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    Start Thinking Like A Tattoo Artist

    Many people think that tattooing is no different than drawing on skin, but that’s not true. There are some important overlapping skills, but being a tattoo artist is not the same as being a sketch artist.

    A good tattoo artist develops a strong eye for shape, color, and line work. I am going to give you some exercises that will help you regardless of the type of art you want to do. In this article, you’ll find information about…

  • How to improve your line work.
  • How to get used to drawing on the body.
  • Getting comfortable with the ink and color and understanding how it interacts with skin.
  • Using books and other references to expand your knowledge.
  • How to practice tattooing.
  • Traditional Japanese Tattoo Sleeve

    Isaac Combs

    46. It seems to me a traditional double exposure tattoo design that shows a polar bear and an island tattoo too on the shoulder of this woman.

    47. You can try a traditional biomechanical tattoo design like here is a bear tattoo design that seems to be coming out of the person.

    48. A traditional 3D tattoo design is not hard to ink but one surely needs an idea for it. I would advise you to try 3D traditional animal tattoos.

    49. The placement of this traditional wolf tattoo design is totally wrong as it would look way much better on back.

    50. Here is a mix up traditional tattoo design that shows a white wold in the get up of a native American chief.

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    Want To Become A Tattoo Artist You Need Less Than You Think To Get Started

    If you want to learn how to become a tattoo artist, you really need a lot less than you think to take the first step. In all honesty, all you need is a piece of paper and a pencil to start drawing. Then, the rest can come piece by piece over a few years. You can consistently hone your skills in your free time, no matter where you are in the process of becoming a tattoo artist!

    American Traditional Tattoo Style Guide

    The traditional tattoos can always be recognized by several distinct characteristics:

    • they are highly saturated
    • the designs looks simple but looks can be deceiving
    • less shading is used, usually minimal
    • it is meant to look like a drawing
    • outlines are bold and black
    • colors are generously filled under the skin

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    Create A Variety Of Original Art Pieces

    Dedicate yourself to producing several finished artworks to feature in an apprenticeship portfolio. It’s important for these artworks to display a combination of your technique and creativity. The exact number of pieces to include in your portfolio can vary depending on the quality of your designs, but having 50 or 100 artworks in a tattoo apprenticeship portfolio is common. Select your most impressive, complete designs for your portfolio that show a variety of art styles, including some works in black and gray and others in full color.

    American Traditional Nature Tattoos

    How to Draw Traditional Tattoo Lighthouse

    For a world traveler in a time before technology, the sights and sounds of island life must have been quite an extraordinary sight.

    Sailor Jerry himself fell in love with Hawaii and the tropical paradise it provided.

    Many of his tattoos are homages to hula girls, palm trees, and beach sunsets.

    Old school nature and landscape tattoos are making a comeback.

    After the materialistic 80s and 90s, people have turned from possessions and toward experiences.

    Many people see travel and/or time spent in nature as a necessary life experience.

    Landscapes done in the American Traditional style can be really elegant, because theyre so simple.

    Theyre often done in a circle shape with a banner underneath, or little embellishments around the sides.

    Is there somewhere you think of as paradise?

    If you cant figure out what kind of old school tattoo would suit you, this is a natural choice!

    Youll never forget a treasured memory in a beautiful place on earth.

    • American Traditional Sunset Tattoos

    American Traditional tattoos often depict sunset tattoos in tropical locales.

    These tattoo designs soothe the soul reminding a person that there are pieces of paradise on earth.

    An American traditional sunset tattoo may symbolize a newfound sense of peace, transitioning to a new way of life.

    Or just a pure love of tropical places.

    • American Traditional Palm Tree Tattoos

    Thought to be paradise on earth, many old-school tattoos celebrate Hawaiis lush landscapes.

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