Skip to content Skip to footer

American & Western Traditional Tattooing In Sydney

Characterised by bold, black outlines and solid, clean designs, the term “Traditional tattoos” refers to the style of tattooing propagated through Europe, the USA, and wider the Western world from the 1800’s onward. Gaining refinement and and their identifying characteristics in the early 1900’s, one can see the style solidify around a range of subjects like animals, flowers, women, skulls, daggers, and nautical imagery. This style is also often referred to as “old school” tattooing.

Traditional American tattoos (or “Americano”) flourished in the late 1800’s after sailors and soldiers would adorn their bodies with meaningful imagery to not only carry memories of loved ones and symbols of protection, but to mark their bodies in the event of losing their life during war.

Following the invention of the electric tattoo machine in 1891 by Samuel O’Riley, Traditional tattooing only increased in popularity among artists and clients alike. Within the first wave of hallmark Traditional tattooers include Amund Dietzel, Herbert Hoffman, Bob Shaw, Sailor Jerry, Don Ed Hardy, Bert Grimm, Lyle Tuttle, Maud Wagner, Stoney St Clair, and Jonathan Shaw, to name but a few.

Although American Traditional designs appear to be ‘simple’ in nature, there are a number of rules and guidelines to follow when designing a piece in this category, making it a specialty that can take years to hone and perfect. The colour palettes used are traditionally vivid colours that were thought to be the best at the time of creation due to lack of fading in the skin and the availability of pigments within the States.

Western traditional tattoo designs include a wide range of imagery including swallows, anchors, eagles, ships, snakes, gypsy women, big cats, roses and daggers. Among some of the most iconic American Traditional designs are the Rock of Ages, Pharaoh’s Horses and the Battle Royale, seen below as tattooed by Lighthouse Tattoo artists Johann Ingemar (link these to artist page), Norrie and Mark Lonsdale.


Battle Royale

Norrie’s work here in Lighthouse Tattoo Sydney, is exactly as American Traditional tattooing should be; identifiable from across the street, with bold outlines and solid colour. Her favourite designs to tattoo are Bert Grimm tigers, roses and animals.

View Artist
Johann Ingemar

Pharaoh’s horses

Johann is heavily inspired by Traditional tattooing history, and loves creating and recreating classic pieces from his heroes of 1900-1940’s. His style is incredibly clean, legible and well saturated, leaving his tattoos to age beautifully and be worn well for a lifetime. Johann has a keen eye for replicating the style of the earlier western traditional artists across a wide range of subject matter.

View Artist
Mark Lonsdale

Rock of Ages

Mark is an incredibly versatile artist who has a solid background in Traditional tattooing ,among other styles. His aesthetic is clean and readable tattoos in both colour or black and grey. Mark’s Traditional work features beautiful artistry with a smooth shading technique and purposeful line work. His favourite Traditional pieces to tattoo are lady faces, angry felines and eagles, with a style reminiscent of the 1970’s onward.

View Artist

Get in touch

Monday – 10:00am-5:00pm
Tuesday – 9:30am-5:30pm
Wednesday – 9:30am-5:30pm
Thursday – 9:30am-5:30pm
Friday – 9:30am-5:30pm
Saturday – 9:30am-6pm

Tuesday – 10:00am-6:00pm
Wednesday – 10:00am-6:00pm
Thursday – 10:00am-6:00pm
Friday – 10:00am-6:00pm
Saturday –10:00am-6:00pm

Lighthouse Tattoo Studio Sydney © 2024 . All Rights Reserved.

Lic#: 010948 | Lic#: 011269