I don't have any tattoos but I often think of getting one. Since I enjoy some history, (especially the 1940's) I looked up the history of Sailor Jerry on Wikipedia. Very interesting man indeed. I really love his art and you can see it everywhere today on clothing, accessories, and even rum. Here's the article on him:
Norman Keith Collins (January 14, 1911 - June 12, 1973) was a prominent American tattoo artist who was also known as "Sailor Jerry".
Collins was born on January 14, 1911 in Reno, Nevada. As a child, he hopped freight trains across the country and learned tattooing from a man named Tatts Thomas, who is credited for showing him how to use tattoo machines. Practicing on drifters, he later sailed the Pacific Ocean before settling in Hawaii. A big brute with a dirty mouth, he often wore plain white T-shirts that exposed his ink-sleeved arms. Mike Malone, who took over Sailor Jerry's shop after he died, described Jerry as "a class-A pirate."
At age 19, Collins enlisted in the United States Navy. It was during his subsequent travels at sea when he was exposed to the art and imagery of Southeast Asia. He remained a sailor for his entire life thereafter. Even during his career as a tattoo artist, he worked as a licensed skipper of a large three-masted schooner, on which he conducted tours of the Hawaiian islands.
Sailing and tattooing were only two of his professional endeavors. He played saxophone in his own dance band and for years, frequently hosted his own radio show on KTRG, where he lectured against the impending (as he saw it) downfall of the American political system by infiltration of liberals. He was a prolific writer and carried on in-depth communications with many pen-pals throughout the world.
Collins entrusted his artwork to his two proteges, Ed Hardy and Mike Malone, both of whom have become prominent figures in their own right. Hardy, who turned down an MFT scholarship to Yale in order to pursue tattooing, is known for his artistic sophistication and large-scale tattoos. Malone, who also designs under the name "Rollo Banks", is known for his conceptual boldness and distinctive designs.
In 1999, Hardy and Malone partnered with a small independent Philadelphia clothing company to establish Sailor Jerry Ltd., which produces clothing and an idiosyncratic collection of other items, such as ash trays, high-top sneakers, playing cards, church keys and shot glasses. An anti-sweatshop company, nearly all Sailor Jerry items are produced in the United States and sold via the company’s web site or from the Sailor Jerry Store at 116 S. 13th Street in Philadelphia, which frequently plays host to performances by independent musicians. Links to bands the company supports are a prominent feature of the web site. The company also showcases rising talents with its "Artist Series", which it describes as a way to "keep Sailor Jerry’s legacy alive and kicking".
In 2002, Converse licensed many tattoo artworks from Sailor Jerry to print onto their Hi-Top, Oxford, & SkidGrip Deck shoes.
Sailor Jerry Ltd. produces a 92 proof spiced Navy rum featuring a quintessential Sailor Jerry hula girl on the label. The reverse label also peels off to reveal various Pin-up girls designed by Sailor Jerry. It is based on the kind of rums that sailors used to create by infusing on-board stocks of rum with spices. Sailor Jerry rum is distilled in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Norman's letters, art and flash are owned and managed by Sailor Jerry Ltd.
After his death, friends found the recipe to a spiced rum in Norman Collin's belongings, which later became the base that created Sailor Jerry Rum. Sailor Jerry Rum got its influence from Sailors who frequently traveled around the world collecting barrels of rum from the Caribbean for the shipmen to drink during their travels. As the rum was of very cheap quality at the time, they would frequently pick up spices and flavors from the Far East and Asia to throw into the barrels to infuse a flavor much more enjoyable for the sailors to drink.