Sailor jerry was one of the greats of old school tattoos when they weren’t referred to as old school but just tattoos. Almost everyone with eyes has seen his work somewhere or something inspired by his work. He created some of the most notable tattoos designs to come out of the old school.
Born in 1911 as Norman Collins, it is said he got the nickname Jerry from a donkey named jerry that his father owned. The sailor part I can only imagine came from his time in the navy.
The navy was where he saw the world. Especially Southeast Asia, where he was influenced heavily for his own artwork. He opened his first shop in Honolulu’s Chinatown. A haven for drunk military men, and one of the only places at that time to get a tattoo.
Most of his tattoo designs where navy inspired. The famous large ship with the words Homeward Bound is one of his most famous designs. He was also notorious for drawing beautiful women with perfect breast. Many in military like outfits or one brunette who appears naked in a martini glass.
When he died in 1973, Sailor Jerry left specific instructions with his wife that the shop and his artwork where to be offered to his three protégés, Don Ed Hardy, Mike Malone, or Zeke Owen. If neither of them wanted it the shop and artwork where to be burned to the ground.
Mike Malone decided to take over the business. In the 1980’s when tattoos became more popular he Malone teamed up with Hardy to release books of Sailor Jerry Flash to sell to tattoo shops. (Flash- tattoo designs, usually hung on the walls of tattoo shops for customers to see and choose from or get an idea from). Sailor Jerry designs where soon hung on walls of tattoo shops everywhere.
In the 1990’s came the Sailor Jerry Limited brand of tattoo inspired clothing and accessories. The brand has even teamed up with Converse shoes to make sailor jerry chuck taylor’s.
Sailor Jerry brand rum soon came as well. The spiced rum came from a recipe that is said to come from a recipe found among Sailor Jerry’s personal belongings and to be a seafaring style of rum.