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Sailor Jerry

Sailor Jerry is not the real name of a famous tattoo artist who was famous for tattooing sailors. His real name was Norman Keith Collins. He lived from 1911 until 1973. He got the moniker, Sailor Jerry, because of his predilection for tattooing sailors.

Collins left behind a big legacy. He left it behind to Mike Malone and Ed Hardy. Both of these people have become serious figures. Hardy turned down a Yale scholarship to pursue tattooing, and he is known for his large and sophisticated tattoos. Malone designed with a stage name, Rollo Banks, and he was remembered for his distinctive designs and boldness, but he died in 2007. Norman Collins is, interestingly, buried in a military cemetery.

The Sailor Jerry legacy lives on. Malone and Hardy linked up with a small clothing company in Philadelphia to set up Sailor Jerry Ltd., which owns all the flash, art, and letters, and makes clothing and other small items like shot glasses, church keys, playing cards, and sneakers. Sailor Jerry is a company that’s against sweatshops, and it makes and produces most of its items in the U.S., and it sells them on the website of the company. The company also shows off new talents, like rising stars, in its “Artist Series”, and it does this as a way to keep the legacy of Sailor Jerry alive and kicking. Sailor Jerry lives on.

Sailor Jerry Ltd. Even makes a spiced Navy rum that is 92 proof, and it features the hallmark hula girl on the bottle too. When the bottle is empty, there are more Pin-up girls created by the old sailor himself on the interior of the bottle. The rum is made in the Virgin Islands. It gets a lot of its influence and inspiration from Caribbean rum, and sailors would add in flavors Asia and the Far East to make it a tastier drink. There was another formula introduced in the UK in 2010, and it was changed so it wouldn’t be as sweet, or at least have as sweet of a taste. This got a lot of bad responses from drinkers, and there was even a Facebook page that petitioned against it, and up until pretty recently, the Facebook page had more fans than the official Facebook page.

There are several popular artwork items that are commonly used in Sailor Jerry’s work, and they include bottles of beer, wild cats, swallows, nautical stars, and dice. Collins was a true innovator in tattoo artistry. He expanded the number of colors available to him by making his own pigments that were safe. He made needle formation that didn’t do as much damange to the skin when they were embedded, and he was one of the initial tattoo artists out there to do single-use needles, and to utilize a sterilization autoclave. He had such a precise attention to detail that rigging depiction in his tattoos of nautical things was described as perfect. That’s what makes him one of the true masters. He paid such impeccable attention to detail. He has an artistic attitude that fuses the American sailor rogueish attitude with the technical prowess and mysticism of the Far East. He talked a lot with Japanese tattoo masters throughout his career. All the best masters get influence from the best. None of them are islands to themselves, which is a pun, considering Sailor Jerry’s connection to sailors. He thought of tattoos as the best way to rebel against the establishment.

The Japanese masters were referred to as the “Horis”, and he brought this style that he learned from them to his Hotel Street tattoo parlor.