20 Traditional Tattoos That Are Perfectly Old School

Design Elements: Getty | Jeffrey Coolidge; Veronika Ollinyk; Marisvector; Nagaiets; Science Photo Library; Ilia Shkliar
Photo Illustration: Aly Lim
Design Elements: Getty | Jeffrey Coolidge; Veronika Ollinyk; Marisvector; Nagaiets; Science Photo Library; Ilia Shkliar
Photo Illustration: Aly Lim

Classic cartoons like Popeye, Mickey Mouse, or Betty Boop. Nautical themes like mermaids or anchors. Any combination of hearts, daggers, pinup girls, and red roses. These are all examples of traditional tattoos that perfectly blend that old-school style of ink with timeless caricatures and symbols. That stereotypical "MOM" heart-shaped tat on your bicep? That's about as old school as you can get.

While we love single-needle and fine line pieces as well, if you love this thick, bold style of tattooing, consider going this route for your next piece of ink. Traditional designs usually celebrate themes related to the sea — think: pirates, anchors, lighthouses, mermaids, boats, and more — but you'll also see plenty of hearts and daggers and roses, too. While red and black are popular color choices with old-school tattoos, modern advancements in the industry mean there's more room to play with shading, fine lines, and different colors including blues, greens, grays, and yellows.

Feeling inspired? Ahead, we've rounded up some of the best options for old school tattoos and classic tattoos. Keep scrolling for traditional tattoo ideas worth bringing to your next appointment at the parlor.

Traditional Tattoos: Mermaid

This old school tattoo features a colorful mermaid.

Traditional Tattoos: Shark

This old school tattoo features a shark.

Traditional Tattoos: Shells

If you want something smaller but still old school, why not go for these shells?

Traditional Tattoos: Anchor

Nothing says "traditional tattoo" quite like an anchor.

Traditional Tattoos Liberty Skull

These two old school skulls are creepy but cool.

Traditional Tattoos: Skull Flag

We love this skull flag tattoo.

Traditional Tattoos: Skull Candy

This colorful skull makes a stunning old school tattoo.

Traditional Tattoos: Blooming Rose

How stunning is this rose tattoo?

Traditional Tattoos: Rose

We love the placement of this black and white rose tattoo.

Traditional Tattoos: Colorful Rose

This classic tattoo is always a win.

Traditional Tattoos: Rose and Scorpion

If you want to spice up your rose tattoo, consider adding a heart or a scorpion.

Traditional Tattoos: Pig Heart

We love what a statement this pink inside of a heart makes.

Traditional Tattoos: Heart and Needle

This is a fun twist on a classic "mom" tattoo.

Traditional Tattoos: Burning Heart

This fiery heart makes a statement.

Traditional Tattoos: Baby Heart

We're obsessed with this old school baby tattoo.

Traditional Tattoos: No Luck

Luck images are often featured in classic tattoos and this one includes an upside down horsehoe.

Traditional Tattoos: F*ck Luck

This old school tattoo features a saying and a skull.

Traditional Tattoos: Out of Luck

This classic tattoo has a skull and a horseshoe.