This is the personal blog of Adam J. Schirling, the founder and editor-in-chief of Drunken Absurdity, a revolutionary ezine. For the best in alternative literature, poetry, art, movies and more go to This blog is strictly for my personal rants, some dirty pics, and the occasional cool story or sweet tunes.

Happy Birthday to a true American legend

>> Saturday, January 14, 2012

Norman Keith Collins (January 14, 1911 - June 12, 1973) was a prominent American tattoo artist who was also known as "Sailor Jerry”
 Collins was born on January 14, 1911 in Reno, Nevada. As a child he hopped freight trains across the country and learned tattooing from a man named "Big Mike" from Palmer, Alaska. Practicing on drifters, he later sailed the Pacific Ocean before settling in Hawaii. A big brute with a dirty mouth, he often wore plain white T-shirts that exposed his ink-sleeved arms.  Mike Malone, who took over Sailor Jerry's shop after he died, described Jerry as "a class-A pirate".
 At age 19 Collins enlisted in the United States Navy. During his subsequent travels at sea he was exposed to the art and imagery of Southeast Asia. He remained a sailor for his entire life thereafter. Even during his career as a tattoo artist he worked as a licensed skipper of a large three-masted schooner, on which he conducted tours of the Hawaiian Islands. Sailing and tattooing were only two of his professional endeavors. He played saxophone in his own dance band and for years frequently hosted his own radio show on KTRG, where he lectured against the impending downfall of the American political system through the infiltration of liberals. He was a prolific writer and carried on in-depth communications with many pen-pals throughout the world.
  Legacy of Sailor Jerry
 Collins entrusted his artwork to his two protégés, Ed Hardy and Mike Malone, both of whom have become prominent figures in their own right. Hardy, who turned down an MFT scholarship to Yale in order to pursue tattooing, is known for his artistic sophistication and large-scale tattoos. He is frequently ridiculed for selling his work rights to Christian Audigier, who bastardized and manipulated tattoo culture to create a mockery of a product line adored by guidos and douchebags the world over. Malone, who designed under the name "Rollo Banks", and was known for his conceptual boldness and distinctive designs, died in 2007. After passing, Mike Malone passed on his rights to the Sailor Jerry artwork estate to a talented Chicago artist, Keith Underwood.  Keith Underwood was the man who inked tattoos #3-8 on me, Adam Schirling in 2004; and I am proud to say that 4 of them were Sailor Jerry original flash.

Norman Collins is buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, a military cemetery located in Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu. His grave site is 124/Section T.


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