Skip to content

Old School Tattoos in Nairobi, Kenya

Old School Tattoos, also known as traditional tattoos or American traditional tattoos, are a style of tattooing that originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These tattoos are characterized by bold, simple designs with a limited color palette and heavy black outlines. They often depict classic symbols such as anchors, roses, daggers, skulls, swallows, hearts, and nautical imagery.

Old school tattoos were commonly seen on sailors, soldiers, and working-class individuals. The style has a distinctive look that has stood the test of time and continues to be popular today.

Old School Tattoos

Key features of old school tattoos include:

  • Bold Outlines: Old school tattoos typically have thick, black outlines that help define the design and make it stand out.
  • Limited Color Palette: Traditional tattoos traditionally use a limited color palette, including bright primary colors like red, blue, and yellow.
  • Iconic Symbols: Old school tattoos feature iconic symbols such as anchors, swallows, roses, hearts, mermaids, pin-up girls, and skulls. These symbols often carry specific meanings and symbolism.
  • Solid Fill: The color in old school tattoos is solid and doesn’t involve intricate shading or gradients. The colors are applied evenly and give the tattoo a bold appearance.
  • Patriotic and Nautical Themes: Many old school tattoos have patriotic or nautical themes, reflecting their popularity among sailors and servicemen. These themes include eagles, ships, compasses, and flags.

Old School Tattoos Design Techniques

Old school tattoos are characterized by specific techniques that contribute to their distinct look and style. Here are some key techniques commonly used in creating old school tattoos:

Bold Outlining

Old school tattoos are known for their bold black outlines. Tattoo artists use a thicker needle and a steady hand to create crisp, clean lines that define the design and give it a strong presence.

Solid Coloring

Traditional tattoos employ solid blocks of color without much shading or gradients. Tattoo artists use a technique called “packing” to ensure that the color is evenly distributed and saturated. This involves using a larger needle grouping to fill in the designated areas with solid color.

Limited Color Palette

Old school tattoos traditionally use a limited color palette, typically consisting of primary colors like red, blue, yellow, green, and black. These colors are applied in a flat, bold manner to achieve the classic old school aesthetic.

Pigment Density

To achieve the solid, vibrant colors associated with old school tattoos, tattoo artists focus on achieving a high pigment density. This means saturating the skin with a sufficient amount of ink to ensure the colors remain vibrant and don’t fade over time.

Use of Black

Black plays a crucial role in old school tattoos, both in the outlining and in creating contrast within the design. Bold black lines help define the tattoo, and areas of black shading or fill are often used to create depth and emphasis.

Minimal Shading

Old school tattoos typically feature minimal shading compared to other tattoo styles. Shading is primarily used to add dimension and contrast to certain elements of the design, such as banners, scrolls, or specific objects.

Traditional Design Elements

Tattoo artists specializing in old school tattoos often incorporate specific design elements associated with the style. These include iconic symbols like anchors, roses, hearts, swallows, nautical motifs, and patriotic themes.

It’s important to note that while these techniques are common in old school tattoos, tattoo artists may incorporate their own variations and adaptations to create unique pieces while still maintaining the overall traditional aesthetic.

Schedule Appointment

Disclaimer: This is not a confirmed schedule, details provided will aid our specialists in planning a convenient time schedule that favours both parties when they get in touch with you for clarification.

Old School Tattoos Design FAQ’s

Old school tattoos Placement

Old school tattoos can be placed on various parts of the body, and the choice of placement often depends on personal preference, the size and design of the tattoo, as well as the visibility and significance one wants to give to the tattoo. Here are some common placements for old school tattoos:

  • Arm: The upper arm, forearm, or full sleeve are popular locations for old school tattoos. These areas provide ample space to showcase larger designs such as anchors, roses, ships, or pin-up girls. The bicep area is often used for standalone designs, while the forearm and sleeve allow for more elaborate compositions.
  • Chest: The chest area is a popular choice for old school tattoos, especially for bold and prominent designs. A classic placement is in the center of the chest, where a large design like an eagle, heart, or a traditional ship can be displayed. This area is particularly suitable for symmetrical designs or pieces that span across the chest.
  • Back: The back provides a larger canvas for old school tattoos, allowing for intricate and expansive designs. A full back piece featuring nautical themes, mermaids, or a combination of various traditional elements is a common choice. Alternatively, smaller designs can be placed on specific areas of the back, such as the shoulder blades or lower back.
  • Leg: Old school tattoos can be placed on the thigh, calf, or even the entire leg as a full leg sleeve. These areas can accommodate larger designs, such as a dagger, compass, or a pin-up girl. The calf is also a popular location for smaller standalone designs like anchors or swallows.
  • Forearm and Wrist: The forearm and wrist are visible areas that allow for smaller old school tattoo designs. Common choices include individual symbols like hearts, anchors, or roses. The wrist is often adorned with smaller, delicate designs like a swallow or a small ship.
  • Shoulder: The shoulder is a versatile location for old school tattoos. It can accommodate standalone designs or be part of a larger composition, such as a full sleeve that extends onto the shoulder. Popular designs for the shoulder include roses, skulls, or a traditional panther.
  • Neck and Throat: For those looking for more daring placements, the neck and throat areas can be adorned with old school tattoos. These placements tend to be more visible and require careful consideration. Designs may include small symbols, words, or even a traditional swallow.

It’s important to consult with a professional tattoo artist to determine the best placement for your old school tattoo based on the design, size, and your personal preferences. They can provide guidance on how the placement will affect the overall look and longevity of the tattoo.

Old School Tattoos Healing and Aftercare

Proper healing and aftercare are essential to ensure your old school tattoo looks vibrant and lasts for a long time. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Follow the artist’s instructions: At Rebel Inks Tattoo Removal and Piercing Palour we will provide specific aftercare instructions based on our expertise and the products we recommend. Listen carefully and follow our advice.
  • Keep the bandage on: After getting your tattoo, at Rebel Inks Tattoo Removal and Piercings Parlour we may cover it with a bandage or plastic wrap. Leave it on for the time specified by your artist, usually a few hours.
  • Clean your tattoo gently: After removing the bandage, wash your tattoo gently with lukewarm water and mild, fragrance-free soap. Use your clean hands, not a cloth or sponge, to avoid irritation. Pat it dry with a clean towel or let it air dry.
  • Apply a thin layer of ointment: Once your tattoo is clean and dry, apply a thin layer of a tattoo-specific ointment recommended by your artist. Examples include A+D ointment or a petroleum-based product. This helps keep the tattoo moisturized and prevents it from drying out.
  • Avoid picking or scratching: It’s crucial to resist the temptation to scratch or pick at your healing tattoo, as this can cause scarring, color loss, or infection. If it itches, gently tap or slap the area instead.
  • Moisturize regularly: As your tattoo heals, continue applying a thin layer of ointment or switch to a fragrance-free, water-based lotion. Apply it 2-3 times a day to keep your skin hydrated and prevent excessive scabbing.
  • Avoid sun exposure and swimming: Protect your healing tattoo from prolonged sun exposure, as UV rays can fade the colors. Additionally, avoid swimming or soaking the tattoo in water (pools, hot tubs, saunas) until it’s fully healed to minimize the risk of infection.
  • Don’t wear tight or abrasive clothing: During the healing process, opt for loose-fitting clothing to prevent friction and irritation on your tattooed skin. Avoid materials like wool or rough fabrics that can cause discomfort.
  • Be patient: Healing times can vary, but generally, it takes about 2-4 weeks for an old school tattoo to fully heal. Remember, each person’s healing process is unique, so don’t be alarmed if your tattoo takes a little longer.
  • Follow up with your artist if needed: If you notice any signs of infection (excessive redness, swelling, pus, or prolonged pain) or have concerns about the healing process, reach out to your tattoo artist or a medical professional for guidance.

Remember, these guidelines are general recommendations, and it’s crucial to follow the specific instructions provided by your tattoo artist. Proper aftercare will help your old school tattoo heal beautifully and maintain its vibrant appearance for years to come.


New School Tattoos →


Areas We Serve





Message Us

Open chat
Need help?
Rebel Inks Tattoos and Body Piercings
Hello, how can I help you?