Norman Collins, known as "Sailor Jerry", was an American artist famous for tattooing sailors. His tattoos used a revolutionary blend of vivid colors and bold icons, which has influenced the tattoo industry ever since. Even if you've never heard his name, I'm betting you've seen his work.
I've always been drawn to Sailor Jerry's art. First, it bleeds Americana and the 1950's --- which, if you know anything about me, is my favorite time period. But I also love his use of symbolism:
- Swallows represent the idea of returning home
- Sailors looking for stability in an ever-moving sea can turn to anchors for security
- Ships represent the call for adventure and Jerry always made sure to represent them accurately
- Hearts help keep loved ones close while you're out at sea (we've all seen the heart wrapped in a banner labeled Mom)
- Sailors looking for guidance can turn to nautical stars to guide them.
I tried to work in some of those symbols into my sculpture.