Black & Grey Tattoo: From Street Art to Fine Art
I'm thrilled to announce the release of the latest in the series of hardcover coffee table books (or rather coffee tables) for Edition Reuss Publishing, which I co-authored with the wonderful Edgar Hoill. Behold our three-volume monstrous box set:
The beautifully designed box contains three hardcovers, totaling 1,008 pages and weighing 22.6 pounds. They are monsters at about 15 x 12 inches (24.5 x 31.5 cm). [Yes, like my Black Tattoo Art book, they double as a home defense device.]
If you want to take a look inside, check the Flickr photoset.
Ok, now for the promo blah blah ...
"Black & Grey Tattoo" is a mammoth work. Comprising over a thousand pages, it is one of the largest - if not the largest - tattoo book ever published! Its three large-format volumes are contained inside a lavish and sturdy hardcover box. The set explores a monochrome art form through a kaleidoscope of the most widely diverse interpretations and craftsmanly techniques, performed by tattoo artists from all parts of the world. This tattoo tome explores the origins of black & grey tattooing - from the prisons and streets of LA to its contemporary resonance on Hollywood's red carpets, at heavy metal music festivals, and in private ateliers from Budapest to Beijing. While rendered in just shades of grade, the spectrum of design is vast: Aztec warriors, fierce harpies, family portraits, religious icons and permanent shrines to celebrities adorn these pages. The common thread among them all is their inventive exposition and mastery of execution. It is divided into three volumes: "Traditional Black & Grey", "Dark/Horror" and "Photorealism". Indeed, there is cross-pollination among the different styles, but the breakdown is not just for easier lifting of this monster collection. It is to show how tattoos with similar stylistic elements are interpreted differently by stellar artists around the world. The books also present the fine art - including paintings and charcoals - of many of those featured, although the tattoos themselves should be considered fine art.
The first volume, "Traditional Black & Grey", is somewhat of a misnomer as it's simply called "black & grey" in the tattoo community. But now that greyscale tattooing has moved in different artistic directions, the 'traditional' label is used to set it apart from its offshoots. Traditional black & grey denotes tattoo art that has stayed true to its roots - a time when home-made machines made of cassette motors and guitar strings dipped in India ink and wash were used to mark skin. The essence of black & grey art is captured in the photography of co-author Edgar Hoill. Select imagery, with quotes from the artists and collectors, leads this volume followed by interviews with Jack Rudy, the Godfather of Black & Grey; as well as tattoo prodigy Jesus 'Chuey' Quintanar. Their stories and tattoo work precede the gallery, which includes tattoos from other pioneers of the style: Freddy Negrete, Brian Everett, and Mark Mahoney.
The second volume, "Dark/Horror" delves into personal demons relayed on skin. Paul Booth, often described as the "Dark Lord of Tattooing," reveals some of the reasons why people get these tattoos as well as how his own demons have driven his art. Other tattoos pay homage to horror in pop culture. Artist Xu Zhicheng of Tianzhilong Tattoo in Beijing says in his interview that he finds inspiration for his large-scale dark work in vampire films, not personal angst. In this chapter, you'll find everything from shrunken heads to Frankensteins to even famous tattoo artists rendered as zombies.
The third and final volume, "Photorealism" encapsulates work that takes photorealistic art and translates it on the body. While the other chapters also feature realism, this chapter concentrates on portraiture, scenery, and even fantastical images rendered in true-to-life tableaux. Two artists renowned in this style, Bob Tyrrell and Andy Engel, talk about how they honed their craft and even offer tips on how others can do so as well. Their interviews are followed by work that has invigorated the tattoo community with the possibilities of mastering a difficult art on a difficult canvas.
All three volumes in this one collection are meant to inspire, showing just how beautiful black & grey tattoo art can be.