Traditional is synonymous with tattoo. It brings us back to the origins, the history, the evolution of this art. It’s a language in code that leaves no space for doubt, the western style par excellence, recognisable the world over. Its strength lies in its simplicity: a few bold lines, vivid primary colours and the predominance of black shading go to make up an iconography which, while it may seem naif to some, still manages to convey a powerful punch.

Traditional never has and never will cease to intrigue us. It’s been with us since the first tattoos inked on the tough hides of sailors – and we’re talking about the 18th century here – and has continued to evolve and change, adapting to the tastes of different eras but keeping its true colours strong and never diluting its potent original message.

This probably has a lot to do with the values it continually harks back to, the most universal values of all: love, friendship, respect, roots.

Since the days of the legendary Sailor Jerry, this iconography has lost neither its power nor its appeal.

Rudy Fritsch, Original Classic Tattoo, Trieste, Italy
Rudy Fritsch, Original Classic Tattoo, Trieste, Italy

The subjects are still the same but every artist reworks them according to their own whim and those of their clients in such a way as to create their own personal world within this universe so vast that at times you can get lost. There are animals – swallows and panthers, peacocks, eagles and snakes, to mention but a few of the best loved, each of them with is own particular qualities, symbols of virtues and vices.

Then there are skulls, memento mori, which are so popular on the tattoo scene and have always been done in a wide range of styles, but here, together with eloquent mottos or other subjects dear to the lovers of the genre, like daggers.

Which brings us to the category of weapons, where daggers stand out among guns and rifles, surrounded by a wealth of detail that make each different from the rest depending on the underlying idea.

And there is plenty of space for pin-ups in all their gorgeous statuesque femininity, a universal banner of beauty. And finally, roses and hearts, lettering and subjects from the seafaring world: sharks and sailing ships, lighthouses and mermaids, divers and sailor boys.