The pinup girl design originally described a glamorous movie actress or beautiful model whose image was used in the production of posters and calendars back in the 1940s. The very first “pin up” images could be pictures cut out of magazines or newspapers, or be from postcard or chromo-lithographs. Eventually they were mass produced. They originated in Europe but quickly became popular in the states. During World War II, soldiers fighting overseas helped to accelerate their popularity even more. They kept pictures of pinup girls in their wallets and hung posters of them in their barracks. You can also think of the pinup models as the old-school version of today’s sexy movie stars and heartthrobs.
Back during the war, Betty Grable, an American actress with over 50 films to her name, became the most popular pinup girl with American soldiers. Other movie actresses that posed for sexy pinup pictures included Veronica Lake, Lana Turner, and Rita Hayworth. Images of these actresses were also sometimes painted on fighting aircraft during war times. Even though the pinup girls were considered sexy in those times, in truth most of the images were fairly conservative and tasteful by today’s standards.
During the 1950s pinup girls were beginning to pose in more risqué outfits poses. Bettie Page was probably the most famous pinup girl of that era. She even dared to go topless in some of her photo shoots. She also posed with lingerie and whips and continues to be popular with tattoo collectors even to this day. Another interesting fact about pinup girls from the 40s and 50s is that they tended to look more like real women. They were curvy and busty and not as skinny as today’s models.
In the past few years the trend of pinup girls has developed. The pinup girls of the 21st century tend to be a more unrealistic female image with very sexy poses and attire.
In the tattoo arena, pin-up girl tattoos have been popular since body art first became popular. Old School flash will usually include a pinup girl or two.
Today’s pinup designs usually begin with the original Old School feel and style developing it from there into a more modern spin on a sexy pinup woman. Original pin-ups wearing navy uniforms or hula girl costumes were a favorite in the early days of tattoo shops.
Today’s pinup flash sometimes takes pinups in a strange direction. Zombie pinups and similar variations have expanded on the pinup theme. There is really no limit on what you can design with a pinup style tattoo in mind.