Top 3 Essential Tattoo Books
Let's just all assume that Marisa's new Black Tattoo Art book is already on everybody's list -- and it should be, since it's the kind of book that I imagine will be one of those much sought after publications fifty years from now. Anyway, history is important, books are good, here's three you can still get and should be reading or purchasing immediately. We'll go reverse chronologically.
Underway is the Only Way
This is the one that prompted me to make this little list, and while you can still snag a copy on Book Mistress, it's not currently in print. So go get a copy now and read the rest of this later. A joint effort between Grime and Horitaka, Underway is all interviews with current tattooers, both old vets and younger guys, and they run the gamut: Jack Rudy, Marcus Pacheco, Filip Leu, Corey Miller and a Chris O'Donnell/Mike Rubendall conversation where beer is spilled at least four times. It's a really fantastic look at how a lot of tattooers came up, but what's even better is that the conversations are long; which means they get in to some great topics, instead of just bitching about TV shows. There's also Guy Aitchison, Aaron Cain, Troy Denning...
New York City Tattoo
I got this book a few years ago and it's always a fun one to come back to. Sam O'Reilly got the ball rolling in Chinatown in 1875 and New York City Tattoo picks up with tattooers like Brooklyn Blackie, Huck Spaulding and the Moskowitz brothers. It's all oral interviews and full of stories about grungy, closet-sized spaces and serious bare-knuckle brawls before the ban in 1964. This was real deal tattooing and if it doesn't make you respect the trade and its rough-and-tumble western roots, then I'm sending a certain fiery redhead your way that I'm sure can sort you out. There's also some amazing old photos and some great old flash.
Tattoo: Secrets of a Strange Art
Originally published by Simon and Schuster in 1933, Dover re-printed Albert Parry's work in 2006. Pretty sure someone mentioned this on N+S, or maybe it was the old Needled, but it's definitely worth a look -- they've got Charlie Wagner in here! It gives you the 1930s perspective, which can be pretty hilarious but also surprisingly similar to the current state of affairs here in 2009. Take, for example, tattooers throwing a fit when they started making ladies pajamas with tattoo designs on them. Parry does a good job of talking to folks and trying to get to the bottom of why so many different types of people seem to love tattoos: ladies, kids, criminals, hookers, circus folks. Also has some photos and flash designs, but they aren't the focus.
Now, there are a few books I failed to mention. Here's another quick list of books we've covered on here (in varying depth) that you should also check out, and, of course, the Shige book has already become one of those much sought after publications...so we assume it's assumed. But:
* The Art of Shige
* Tattoo Machines: Tall Tales, True Stories & My Life in Ink
* John Reardon's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting a Tattoo
* The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olivia Oatman
* Tattoo in Japan
Also, Lal Hardy's Mammoth Book of Tattoos is worth a look, too, for some great current work and Vintage Tattoos is fun for some classic designs. Ok, so this was what, three lists? Two and a half? Feel free to add!