63+ Amazing Traditional Tattoo Ideas To Bring You Back In Time

By Jason Hamilton / July 6, 2021
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Traditional Tattoos have been around for a long time, and for good reason! We gathered the greatest classic tattoos and designs of all-time. Enjoy!Brace yourselves because you’re about to find out who invented traditional tattoos. If you are an American or a person who studied history at some point in his or her life, then you must know about Pearl Harbor. What happened back then is not the point, but the location itself is. That’s where a former navy man named Norman Collins learned various tattooing techniques directly from the Japanese tattoo masters.

In this article, we will be sharing with you our rich gallery of traditional tattoo designs and the various styles you can do with such a tattoo.


A Short Background On Traditional Tattoo Designs

Back then, soldiers used to get tattooed without caring how people would think about them. The harsh truth was that they didn’t know if they were going to make it out alive, so they indulged into permanent marking. Later on, only sailors, homeless people and circus freaks got tattooed. They didn’t care about social constraints, so their actions were seen are rebellions.


A shoulder tattoo of the American flag with a cemetery as the foreground.

A large black and white sleeve tattoo of the American flag.


An American flag tattoo on the chest with a compass on the foreground.

A tattered black and white American flag tattoo on the sleeve portion of the body.


A black and white tattoo of the American flag and a skull on the leg.

A colorful and highly detailed intricate tattoo of the American flag with two rifles crossed inked on the upper sleeve portion of the body.


 An intricately designed waving American flag tattoo on the sleeve.

3D American Flag Tattoo 1

A 3d forearm tattoo of the American flag shaped like a star.


Fortunately, society doesn’t look at tattooed people the way it used to. What didn’t change are the traditional tattoos. They are considered classics that will outlive us all. Some of the most common tattoo designs can be done in a pretty badass way as traditional tattoos. The color palette available these days definitely helps, but the complexity of Sailor Jerry’s technique cannot be overcome.

A realistic eagle head tattoo design on the sleeves.


A Bald Eagle tattoo with the American Flag in the background

American Eagle Tattoo

A cartoon style tattoo version of the US emblem


A realistic eagle tattoo design on the forearm.

 A tattoo of a bald eagle perched on a branch.


According to multiple sources, the most popular traditional tattoo designs are depictions of Native American symbols,  pin-up girls and boys, mermaids, the swallow and sparrow combination, various types of hearts, anchors, eagles, as well as navy and other armed forces symbols; daggers and roses too. Anything can be adapted to the traditional style, so you can find a tattoo artist who is a good drawer and an enthusiast if you want one.

The Various Designs You Can Do With The Traditional Tattoo

The traditional tattoo, despite its age, is still as flexible as it newer counterparts. From the usual rose and skull tattoo, to even more complex tattoo designs, this tattoo style has it all!

Here are just some of the best traditional tattoo designs we saw that will really spark your interest!

The Skull Tattoo

Skull tattoo ideas are one of the industry’s classic designs. Alongside other traditional tattoo designs out there, they have dominated the body art industry and tattoo community for numerous decades now despite its evil-looking design. But behind the horrific image a skull tattoo offers is a rich and meaningful definition for its wearer.


The skull is one of man’s oldest and most powerful symbols. It has a long and varied history of use with multiple overlapping interpretations. Most commonly it is seen as a representation of death and mortality.

Part of the visual appeal of a skull comes from the fact that it is so easily recognizable. Humans can often recognize the buried fragments of an only partially revealed cranium even when other bones may look like shards of stone. The human brain has a specific region for recognizing faces and is so attuned to finding them that it can see faces in a few dots and lines.  And, with its large eye sockets, the human skull displays a certain degree of neoteny or childlike appearance.  This same technique has been utilized by illustrators and animators for a long time because of it’s strong visual appeal.

There are a lot of designs for skull tattoos out there. From the traditional skull tattoo to the newer watercolor skull tattoo, the skull tattoo has continuously morphed itself to fit with the times.

Here are some of the skull tattoo designs we saw on the internet that really captured our attention:

A sleeve tattoo of a traditional skull tattoo design.


A side tattoo of a traditional skull tattoo design with artsy blue embellishments.

 A leg tattoo of a traditional skull tattoo design with red flowers and leaves.


Another leg tattoo of a traditional skull tattoo design with a gold tooth and a cowbow hat and bandana.

A colored leg tattoo of a traditional skull tattoo design with a Tudor headpiece.

A colorful full back tattoo of a traditional skull with a woman holding a scythe.


A traditional skull tattoo on the leg.

A traditional skull tattoo inked on the arm with a comic like appearance.


A colored traditional skull tattoo on the ankles with a deformed skull and red insides.


A colorless traditional skull tattoo with roses and leaves.

men skull tattoo arm 1

A traditional skull tattoo on the arm with feathers and a rose.

men skull tattoo arm 3

A skull tattoo on the sleeve with an old style aviator helmet and goggles.

men skull tattoo arm 4

An intricately designed skull tattoo on the leg with various lines and heraldic symbols as an additional embellishment.

men skull tattoo arm 5

A skull tattoo on the leg with a gold crown with rubies.

men skull tattoo leg 1

The Rose Tattoo

The world is filled to the brim with plants and flora that is considered exotic, unique, and beautiful. Flowers, in particular. have captured the imagination of the human race since time immemorial. We have used them for various purposes like rituals, offerings, decorations, scent, flavoring, and so much more. One usage in particular that captivated the world is the use of flowers for courtship and there is one flower that automatically comes to mind when thinking of courtship are roses. Roses are the pinnacle of romantic flowers. Well, there are tulips, chrysanthemums, and peonies but nothing beats a rose when courting someone. With this in mind, it is not a surprise that rose tattoo designs are a thing in the body art industry.

The meaning of a rose tattoo, generally speaking, depends on the color of the rose and these meanings are still based on their real-world counterparts. Here are a few rose tattoo meanings we came across:

 Yellow Rose

A yellow rose symbolizes joy, protection against envious lovers, and a mature love.

Want an idea of what a yellow rose tattoo looks like? Look no further! Here are a few yellow rose tattoos we have seen across the internet:

A back tattoo of a vibrant yellow rose with a banner beneath.

Yellow Rose Tattoo 1

A small arm tattoo of a highly detailed yellow rose with the stem and leaves still attached.

A highly detailed yellow rose tattoo with the stem and leaves still attached and the some of the petals falling.

A highly detailed yellow rose tattoo.

A large sleeve tattoo of a yellow rose still attached to its stem with leaves.

White Roses

A white rose symbolizes purity, mysticism, and a secret admirer.

Want an idea of what a white rose tattoo looks like? Look no further! Here are a few yellow rose tattoos we have seen across the internet:

A shoulder tattoo of a white rose with leaves.

An intricate tattoo of a white rose situated on the foot.

A very intricate white rose tattoo on the back area of the body with leaves and a butterfly on one of its petals.

A highly intricate white rose tattoo with leaves situated on the arm near the wrist.

A white rose tattoo situated on the arm with the leaves still attached.

Red Roses

A red rose typically thought of as symbolizing romance or passionate love, but they also represent sacrifice or memorial.

Want an idea of what a red rose tattoo looks like? Look no further! Here are a few yellow rose tattoos we have seen across the internet:

A medium-sized arm tattoo of a vibrant red rose with a rose bud on the side with leaves and a bee.

An arm tattoo of a red rose.

A shoulder tattoo of red roses with the leaves still attached.

A back tattoo of vibrant red roses with leaves and a pearl necklace.

A vibrant red rose tattoo on the thigh.

The Viking Tattoo

Vikings have become so popular through the years, even during today’s culture, as we’re seeing them everywhere. The popular TV show of the same name is one of the few that instantly comes to mind – which is why it is quite natural for people to join the Viking tattoo craze.

A Viking pattern wrist tattoo.

Another wrist tattoo with a Viking-influenced design

A Viking-inspired battle axe tattoo.Viking Axe Tattoo

A Viking heroine tattoo

A tattoo featuring a Viking helmet worn by a skull.

A large sleeve tattoo featuring Viking-inspired detail.

A Viking compass tattoo (Vegvisir).

A ribcage tattoo with a Viking-influenced design

The mighty Norsemen we refer to as Vikings were actually from Scandinavia. As an entity, they had existed from the 8th to 11th century and were a true menace to the rest of the world. They were known for raiding and pillaging the whole of Europe.

Even the very word “Viking” comes from Old Norse language and it roughly translates to “a pirate raid.” Thor and Loki may be some of the most popular mythical characters in our times, but there’s so much more than that if you dig a little deeper.

A tattoo of the Viking god, Odin with wings inked on the leg.

An intricate and highly detailed Viking pattern tattoo inked on the arm.Viking Pattern Sleeve Tattoo

A highly detailed and intricate Valknut tattoo on the forearm.

A Viking tattoo with the wilderness as a double exposure.Viking Tattoo

A large Viking pattern tattoo.

Another tattoo featuring the Viking god, Odin.

You could go for the obvious option which probably includes butch men with long blond hair, beard,  mustache, and wearing a horned helmet. Sure, that looks mighty and powerful, but you should know that Vikings didn’t actually wear horned helmets.

A Viking-inspired tattoo featuring the Valknut, a spear, and Viking writing.

A sketch-like Viking snake tattoo.

A Viking snake and compass (Vegvisir) tattoo.

A highly intricate and detailed leg tattoo featuring Viking runes.

A tattoo of a forest with Viking patterns.

They were smart and practical, especially when it came to choosing weapons and armor for their battles.

Instead, you can opt for the less obvious way and go fully authentic and mythical. Vikings wore their tattoos mostly on their fingers and their shoulders. The knot works similar to modern Celtic tattoo designs, which were the usual order of the day.

An highly intricate tattoo of the Vegvisir.

A tattoo featuring an image of a Viking going into a sea battle.

A wonderfully detailed Viking snake tattoo inked on the arm.

A highly detailed and intricately designed tattoo on the sleeve with a raven and Yggdrasil.

 A minimalist traditional tattoo with Viking influences.

A tattoo of a raven with Viking-inspired detailing.Viking Raven Tattoo

A a highly detailed Valknut tattoo with a tree as detail.

Another Vegvisir tattoo with Viking writings around it.



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About the author

Jason Hamilton

Jason has been an avid fan of tattoos for over 13 years now. He is currently 35 years old, and he got his first tattoo at the age of 22. Since then, he has added over 20 tattoos to his collection. He is also into writing, which is why he decided to celebrate both of his passion and hobby through tats ‘n’ rings. Jason dreams of having his very own tattoo parlor soon. Jason would be very happy to answer any questions about tattoos that you may have! Leave a comment below and he’ll answer it for you right away!

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