Sailor tattoos & symbols

Tattoo Ole is the world's oldest still functioning tattoo shop​

When Majbritt "Lille-Ole" Petersen started in Nyhavn 17, there was a lot of talk about her taking over the store when the time came. She promised that she would carry on the old traditions and she also proved this to Bimbo. Majbritt has always had a great interest in business and listened carefully to the stories that were told in the shop by the ancients, therefore she was chosen to be the 12th proprietor.

Since traditions are the essence of the old tattoo shop and knowledge is gold, Majbritt set out to make a book about the ancient customs and meanings of these beautiful motifs before being lost with the older generation.

See the book here  Buy the book here

Over the years Majbritt has owned the store, the old sea owls have been in with good stories when they sat down in the tattoo chair and again let the needle make its mark. The "little black book" was not far away from the work table, so the old exciting sailor legends and myths could quickly be embedded in it with comments and illustrations.

We managed to find Tattoo Ole's original drawings from the 1940s, and since then Majbritt has made his own versions of them. The project has taken approx. 5 years and has become a quality-conscious, easy-to-read and colorful book with a lot of pictures illustrating the old symbols. It will be a practical book for tattooists, but at the same time aimed at anyone who loves tattoos and ancient legends.

In 2018, "Sailor Tattoos & Symbols" was nominated under art at Gmund papier, at a conference held every year, for the most technical and special artistic paper ideas worldwide. It was a great recognition.

In 2021, the book, together with the great Faroese artists of all time, was included in an exhibition "The Sea" at the art museum Listasavni. Everything that has and had to do with the sea; old tools that were used on board the “slops” (fishing boats), paintings with relations to / with and in the sea as well as of course the tattoos that belonged to the tanned sailor.

We hope you enjoy the book!

​This edition is printed in 158 numbered copies, distributed as follows: 150 numbered with numbers and eight numbered with Roman numerals accruing to the graphic artist. All are signed by the author Majbritt Petersen.

Tattoo Oles book​

Majbritt has chosen a book layout that suits her store's history. A book where the choice of paper, the treatment of the book and the expression, suits a time when you would like to think about what materials have been used and what these express.

The book is the first of its kind in Denmark, not that a book is abnormal, but the book itself. As it is a very special book, it is not only the choice of material that is carefully selected, but the treatment itself is also something that has put the very best in the subject to the test - you could say that there has been a bit of pushing the boundaries of what can be done.

If we start with the paper selection, the book cover is selected according to the style and story it saves on. Majbritt is No. 2 in Denmark who uses this material for a book cover. We know who was the first, but for special reasons we are not allowed to mention the person and the book with names, but feel free to come down to the store and get the story. 

You will be able to see and hear that there is a connection with what the book also mentions. You must like to be a little royal and have some public secrets…

The wrapping paper comes from one of the world's most recognized paper manufacturers, which is located in Germany and is called Gmund papier. They are the world's oldest paper mill and have over 180 years of experience in paper production. At Gmund papier, they care a lot about nature, the environment, recycling and giving back to nature again. In fact, the water they use in the paper process returns to nature cleaner than when it was extracted from nature. This has something to do with all the filtrations that the water goes through, as well as how the work process in the machines is. The electricity they use comes from solar panels. They are among the few in the world who are both ECO and FSC certified. Gmund papier has received several awards for “Sustainability”.

The logo on the cover has been given what is called a multilevel / emboss treatment. This means that the logo stands out as a relief with several depths in different levels, so that it becomes more vivid. This is also not something one has seen before in a book. Different foils have been used on the cover to meet the wishes, as there should be different shades and matte colors.

The content paper has been chosen to give a more raw expression, as these are tattoos the book is about. The paper comes from Papyrus, which like Gmund papier, goes a lot into the environment. They make sure that twice as many trees are planted in relation to what is being used. They also only work with other paper suppliers who are environmentally conscious.

There was a wish that the book should have a Victorian expression and after a close collaboration between Majbritt and the graphic artist, this has succeeded. This book process is reminiscent of something that comes from an ancient time, as these are methods that are not used that much anymore. This makes the stories between the book and the tattoos connected.

​The book has aroused great interest and curiosity in Gmund papier and Papyrus, due to the choice of material, layout and style. They did everything to make this project feasible. Gmund papier made an expert in printing available to our Danish printers. When the task became too complicated and the answer at home was "it can not be done", Gmund papier was called. With the support of such a well-known paper supplier, all the no-sayers got the yes-hat on. Thus, we land back to the fact that it is the first of its kind type book, in Denmark.

The book has been through a very long journey. Not only from when Majbritt decided to write a book, but it has been through many hands, with all the greats in the printing profession and received a lot of rejections. We were so lucky that Salo Media said yes to this book and fought the battle with the graphic designer every time there was a bit of adversity. So it is not only Majbritt's little nugget that has hit the streets, there are several proud "parents" in this little case, the book also helps to open up new printing opportunities in Denmark.

A big thank you to graphic designer Kirsten Frandsen and printer / owner of SALO’MEDIA Philip Johan Salomon.

Contact information

Copenhagen department

003-maps-and-flags  Nyhavn 17, 1051 København K​

002-phone-call  +45 33 15 90 86​​

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Faroe Islands department

003-maps-and-flags  Tròndargøta 29, 100 Tòrshavn​

V-tal 651966​​

002-phone-call​  00298775050

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Welcome to Tattoo Ole. The world's oldest tattoo shop

- A true connection to history.

Opening hours

Monday

12:00 – 20:00​

Tuesday

12:00 – 20:00​

Wednesday

12:00 – 20:00​

Thursday

12:00 – 20:00​

Friday

12:00 – 20:00​

Saturday

12:00 – 20:00​

Sunday

12:00 – 20:00​

Changes in opening hours are taken into account.

Closed Monday and Sunday in the Faroe Islands. Open 12-20.

CVR​: 37776610

®All Rights Reserved Tattoo Ole - Nyhavn 17