Tattoo Books: 3-Book Review

Tattoos have long been an interest of mine, tattoo art to be specific.  Even my favorite part of group camping is setting up a picnic-bench-parlor to Sharpie tattoo custom designs on friends and family. Innocent enough since the ink is quite temporary. And though I don’t have any tattoos myself, as an artist and designer I am allured by the mystique of tattoo illustrations and typography, and that which people choose to wear permanently. Recently I requested a few tattoo-related books to read, (color), and review from Laurence King Publishing on the topic.



100 Years of Tattoos by David McComb


I became very interested in the history of tattoos upon researching My Father’s Tattoos, inked by legendary Tatts Thomas of Chicago in 1948. I could hardly wait to dive into this incredible book on the history of body art. I read the entire 288 fascinating pages (with 300 illustrations!) in one winter day while curled up by the fire. Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-06 Upon finish, I can’t ever imagine stepping foot into a tattoo shop for custom work without the benefit of this in-depth history of the art, the artists, the culture, and the meanings behind most styles of tattoo art, past and current. As a graphic designer, I found even the artists’ business cards featured in the book to be fascinating. Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-04This book offers “a friendly read of the society, community, and history of the artists and the inked.”

Chapters include:

  • 1914-1945: War and Ink, The Golden Age, Roll Up! Roll Up!
  • 1946-1969: Ink from the Clink, Rebel Tattoos, Tattoo Revolution
  • 1970-1990: The tattoo Renaissance, Woman and Ink, Defying Convention
  • 1991- Now: Styles with Substance, Mainstream Obsession

Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-02From the affluent of the late 1800s in European society who traveled far for their own prestigious inking, to side-show exhibits of the turn of the 20th century, 100 Years of Tattoos will teach you all you could want to know about how, where and why people chose to be inked and of the many artists who have chosen the human body as their primary canvas.

Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-03Wartime tattooing were very popular, for many reasons I was surprised to learn, with cryptic messages that you will find quite interesting.Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-05Did you know:

“Although Western society turned its back on tattoo art in the years following World War II, ink continued to flourish in prisons, where potent designs were worn as a mark of gang membership. Unwittingly, the primitive techniques and makeshift inks used by jailbird artists helped to set the scene for modern black-and-grey work, which has become the most popular form of body art in the West.” David McComb, 100 Years of Tattoos

Women are very well represented in this significant history book. Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-19 You’ll find stories like that of Irene Woodward (below left) who’s dramatic story of becoming tattooed was fabricated to bring more mystique to her sideshow attraction. Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-01I have many books in my library of tattoo topics, but this one has the best reference to tattoo art through the ages, including many examples of legendary flash designed by plenty of famous names in the industry. Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-20 I am certain if tattoos in any way interest you, whether to wear or admire, this century of tattoo culture and visual history will be of significant value.

CH-DividerArt by Tattooists: Beyond Flash by Jo Waterhouse

Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-09 This pocket-size mini edition book of 128 pages and 200 color illustrations features thirty international artists who use a variety of mediums and pays tribute to non-tattoo related artwork.Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-08Within the pages of Art by Tattooists you will discover the artwork of working tattooists who move beyond flash and flesh with their talents.Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-07 Creating on surfaces from canvas to skateboards, their artwork is kept fresh and exhibited well in this little book of talent.


The Tattoo Coloring Book by Megamunden

Just when you thought you’d seen just about all the adult coloring book styles there were to see… just wait until you get a load of this one- WOW!Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-10With 112 pages and 120 illustrations, The Tattoo Coloring Book, by designer Ollie Munden, (aka Megamunden), features tattoos of all the spectacular illustrations you could hope for.Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-13 Artwork includes everything from gorgeous Japanese koi fish, birds, and flowers to many other intricate designs from nature.Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-11 There are also pages of skulls, roses, hearts, and more. The line art throughout the book is primarily black with just the right touch of metallic gold. There are even a few pages that prompt you to design your own custom tattoos.Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-12I was delighted to find this gorgeous, surprise centerfold in full, vibrant color.Cathe-Holden-Tattoo-Review-16Craving even more inspiration? Check out the incredibly talented Megamunden in action:

So tell me- do you have, want or, like me, simply appreciate tattoos? I’d be very interested to know.

Disclosure: Cathe Holden (aka Just Something I Made blog) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking

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