Sailor Jerry

Norman Keith Collins, also known as Sailor Jerry, was born on January 14, 1911, in Reno, Nevada. He grew up in northern California were he hopped freight trains across the country and learned tattooing from a man named ‘Big Mike’, original using hand-pricking method. In the late 1920s, he met Tatts Thomas who taught him how to use a tattoo machine. Later on, he sailed the Pacific Ocean before he settled in Hawaii in the 1930s. Sailor Jerry would tattoo pin-up ladies on sailors because they wouldn’t see any woman till months.

At the age of 19, he enlisted in the United States Navy. Collins had also played the saxophone, which he played on his own radio show where he was known as the ‘old ironsides’. His influence on the art of tattooing

encouraged people to open an annual festival for him in Hawaii called ‘the Sailor Jerry Festival.’

Collins expanded the array of colours by developing his own pigment. He created needle formation, which bought less pain to the skin while giving a tattoo. Collins  was one of the first artists to utilize single-use needles and to use an autoclave for sterilization.

By 1999, Hardy and Malone partnered with a man named Steve Grasse and his Philadelphia based creative agency to establish Sailor Jerry Ltd. It was a way to let Sailor Jerry legacy be kept alive and kicking. Sailor Jerry Ltd owned his letters, and flash, and other items, such as ash trays and sneakers. Sailor Jerry Ltd produces a 92 proof spiced rum. When the bottle is finished, there is a sticker of a pin-up lady Collin had tattooed.

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