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Decoding Marine Ink

The stories behind the intricate tats of our armed forces

by: Tiffanie Gabrielse
September 1, 2011

Stewed, screwed and totally tattooed isn’t the most graceful expression, but its originator, Sailor Jerry (or Norman Collins), is known as a sharp, gruff Pacific “sea dog” who is the most infamous tattoo artist to ink the men of our military for over 40 years. It is impossible to understand the culture that surrounds the military and the tattoo art form without Sailor Jerry. Today in Jacksonville, across the various tattoo shops in town, one can find countless options for nautical ink: chickens and pigs or WWII pin-ups with busting bosoms, and of course thousands of USMC designs.

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