Have you ever wondered about the meanings of traditional sailor tattoos? You can now decode what the diving swallows, crossed anchors, and nautical stars signify with a helpful illustration by “Adventure Cartoonist” Lucy Bellwood. She’s created The Art of the Sailor, a diagram that depicts a tattooed sea traveler whose body art is both named and defined.
From the sailor's hands to his feet, the symbols tell the stories of journeys made along the open water. A swallow, for instance, represents 5,000 nautical miles traveled, while a hula girl means a U.S. sea man who has been to Hawaii. There are also tattoos that are intended to bring good luck. Having the words Hold and Fast inked across the knuckles is done in hopes of having a tight grip in rigging, while a nautical star is so that they can always find their way home.
The Art of the Sailor is now available as a limited edition letterpress print through Buyolympia.
Find out what traditional sailor tattoos mean in this revealing poster illustrated by Lucy Bellwood.