6 Examples of Great Old School Tattoo Flash Genres

English: Classical old schoo tattoo

Classical old school tattoo flash (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


When we think of old school tattoo flash, we see images of big and bold designs of beautiful girls, hearts, roses, birds and anchors to name just a few. The tattoo machines and ink were not of the best quality back in the day so the tattoos were generally simple and very bold with almost no shading, but the tattoo held up very well over time. The old school tattoo flash ideas we will talk about below are all from the 1920s through the 1950s and represent some of the first and more popular tattoos in the United States of America. Take a look at these old school tattoo flash ideas, there’s bound to be a design for you.

Swallows Old School Tattoo Flash– Swallows old school tattoo flash are great design patterns and are tattooed often these days. The simple design tattooed in single colored ink is a classic. Basic colors were often added to the tattoo back in the day also. The swallow tattoo idea we will discuss here was popular with sailors in the 1930s and 1940s in the merchant marine and the U.S. Navy. The meaning held then was that the swallows would greet them after a long journey well before the sailors could see land. Try a swallow in flight looking down at it with it’s back arched and wings in the middle of the stroke with the head a bill pointing up. The top of the wings and body in dark ink or you can add a little light blue on the head and on the side of the body for cool swallows old school tattoo flash.

swallow old school tattoo
Typical old school swallow


Heart Old School Tattoo Flash – Heart old school tattoo flash is a design you will either remember someone in your family having or actors from the past wearing. This iconic tattoo having the word “Mom” in it was popular with US military in the 1940s going in to the war.  This tattoo flash design was very fast to ink on a GIs arm before beening shipped out. As an idea for a heart old school tattoo flash from the past, try a heart with a small black border around it with a small white banner at about a 45 degree angle across the heart with the letters MOM in the center of the banner. What an American classic heart old school tattoo flash pattern you will have to show off.

Anchor Old School Tattoo Flash – Anchor old school tattoo flash has a long history going back to the 1920s. Merchant sailors and US sailors even to this day wear them proudly. Most sailors would add their ship number to the bottom of the anchor as soon as they could. As an anchor old school tattoo flash design idea we will try an anchor with the shank and arm in grey ink and the palm in black, the wooden stock in brown, and a twisting section of chain around the anchor, the letters and numbers BB-39 below the anchor. This will make a great anchor old school tattoo flash design you will be proud to show off. To the men of the BB-39 may you forever rest in peace; the USS Arizona.


eagle tattoo design

Old school eagle tattoo

Eagle Old School Tattoo Flash – Eagle old school tattoo flash hit their stride in the 1940s and 1950s by soldiers and veterans as a pledge tattoo of the unit and division and the symbol of the eagle for freedom, liberty and power. As an eagle old school tattoo flash idea try an eagle with its wings spread out flat and an eagle head in a side view between the wings. Under the image a unit number and division number will give the finishing touch.

Pin up Girl Old School Tattoo Flash – Pin up girl old school tattoo flash were a common tattoo seen in the 1920s through the 1940s with sailors and soldiers. Rosie the Riveter was an iconic symbol seen in the 1940s in the war effort. She was true blooded and powerful and would remind the boy what was waiting at home for them. As a pin up girl old school tattoo flash idea let’s use Rosie in a side view with her classic red bandanna and blue mechanic shirt flexing her bicep muscle.

Typical Rose Old School Tattoo

Rose Old School Tattoos Flash – Rose old school tattoo flash was and still is very popular.  The rose in the tattoo world back in the 1920s through the 1950s had a meaning of love is true and were tattooed to remind themselves of the love waiting at home. The color of the rose had different meanings and here are a few, red is love, pink is grace, white is purity and black is death. As an example of roses old school tattoo flash, try a red rose with two green leafs seen from above with a white banner over the top of the rose. It is a simple design but will get plenty of looks.

Coloring & Placement of Old School Tattoos

Coloring of old school tattoos flash will be a choice you will have to make. We will help with a few suggestions in vintage colors of basic, red, green, black and sometimes if you were lucky, white, grey, blue, yellow and brown which were often the only colors they had. To keep that old school tattoo flash look you want, stick with the basics.

Placement of your old school tattoo flash will depend on size, but will really look good anywhere. Large size tattoos look great on the upper body like the back, upper arm, forearm, chest, and legs. Smaller tattoos look great on the forearm, shoulder, chest, thigh, and lower leg.

Old school tattoo flash is a great retro style tattoo that has a lot of meaning. As we have discussed there is a great story line in each and every one of them. Your tattoo artist’s experiences well help capture that old school feel. Be sure a visit the galleries and additional ideas to create the perfect old school tattoo flash that is right for you.


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