Nautical star tattoos have a long history. Obviously they were originally associated with water, specifically sailors who would rely upon the position of the stars for navigational purposes. In later years, the punk movement adopted the nautical star tattoo to some extent, and this adoption can probably be traced to a Sailor Jerry influence. While this sailor-to-punk lineage seems unlikely, perhaps the punk adoption of the nautical star makes a lot of sense as a symbol of finding one’s own way in life. Around the 1950s the nautical star was also adopted in the gay and lesbian circles as a symbol of their sexual affiliation.
The prevalence of the nautical star tattoo today suggests that there is a much wider audience attracted to this simple symbol now. Sailor Jerry’s resurgence in popularity as well as the growing fanbase of rockabilly and all its accouterments have almost certainly contributed to the recent interest in the nautical star. In addition, the nautical star’s versatility makes it a relatively easy tattoo to work into a larger piece. The nautical star can be done in any color, made any size, and because it is a relatively simple piece to ink it really doesn’t take much to work it into a more complex tattoo or a sleeve.
Is the nautical star really the new tramp stamp? There are thousands of hardcore Sailor Jerry fans, sailors, and rockabilly guys and gals out there who hope not. But for every one of them I’d wager that there are four college girl party babes thinking that a nautical star on their hip would be really hot.