Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins the Sailor
Norman Collins enlisted in the Great Lakes Naval Academy in his late teens and spent the better part of the next decade sailing around the globe on schooner ships. As tattooing and the sailing go hand in hand, it was no great coincidence that this time at sea fostered a deep love of naval culture and the art and tradition of tattooing for young Jerry. Traveling around the China Seas, Collins would occasionally tattoo while in various ports of call, studying not only the work of some of the tattoo masters he encountered there but Asian philosophy and storytelling as well. These encounters heavily influenced Jerry and his work, as he brought Asian styles and traditions back to Honolulu where he worked in the arcades of Chinatown before the outbreak of World War 2.
Collin's love for naval culture also impacted his classic flash designs. His familiarity with the ins and outs of nearly every sailing vessel afloat during his heyday allowed him to create ship designs that were accurate depictions of real ships, right down to the rigging. His numerous naval flash designs were drawn straight from sailor lore and contributed to the iconic place marks like anchors, navigational stars and sparrows hold in today's tattoo culture. Even when tattooing took over most of his life he was still a sailor at heart.