Rockabilly was a musical movement that formed during the early days of rock-and-roll. Appearing in the 1950s, the rockabilly style is defined by the classic rock-and-roll aesthetic of hoop skirts, quiff hairstyles and leather jackets. Rockabilly tattoo designs are commonly inspired by old-school tattooing styles and traditionally depict the pin-up girls of the 1950s as well as nautical imagery such as stars and anchors.
Pin-up Girl Tattoos
One of the most iconic images in the history of the tattoo is that of the pin-up girl. Championed by legendary American tattoo artist "Sailor Jerry" Collins, the pin-up girl tattoo is a classic choice for a rockabilly tattoo. Ideas for subjects of a pin-up girl tattoo can range from a portrait of a famous 1950s movie star like Marylin Monroe to an image of the celebrated burlesque pin-up girl Betty Page.
Many of the old-school tattoo designs favoured by rockabilly enthusiasts were originally popularised by sailors in the U.S. Navy. Due to this seafaring connection, old-school tattoos often have a nautical theme. For a tattoo design that captures the vintage Navy style, opt for a classic nautical star or compass tattoo. The compass was seen by the sailors as a symbol of protection while out at sea. Another emblem common to the nautical tattoo is the anchor.
Feminine Rockabilly Tattoos
Many rockabilly women opt for slightly more feminine variations on the traditional old-school tattoo. Classic tattoo designs that are commonly chosen by female rockabilly fans include hearts and swallows. Sailors chose the swallow as a symbol of loyalty, family and protection. The heart tattoo is a symbol of love and good luck and is often depicted with a loved one's name on a banner across it or with a dagger running through it.
Mexican and Religious Tattoos
Another style of old-school tattoo synonymous with the rockabilly movement is the vintage religious or Mexican-themed design. Popular tattoo ideas include Christian imagery such as the Virgin Mary. Once again made popular by those old-school tattoo champions, the sailors, religious tattoos were seen as a symbol of faith and protection. Classic Mexican emblems such as the skull tattoo, inspired by the Mexican holiday " The Day of the Dead," are also a popular option.