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My copy of this book has a different cover to the one above, its white with a heart and flowers encapsulated by scrolls with the title and publisher written on it. The back is of a naked woman with her chest covered in a rather pretty floral design and a fish above her vagina with the caption "no meat on Friday?"
I'm not entirely sure where I brought it from buy my copy seems to be predominantly Japanese with the RRP stated in Yen. However there still is an English introduction (among others). I found the introduction fascinating, it explains the most common reasons why people have tattoos in various parts of the world - be it for protection, to influence the direction your life takes or to commemorate a time in your life or someone you love (or have lost).
Also contains a glimpse into the grimy side of tattooing, using homemade needles and inks often to depict gang signs and racial slurs. Not something I could imagine someone wanting to keep on their body for more than a few years!
The images themselves are separated into different groups:
Ethnographic Tattoos - This section has a range of 'tribal' tattoos, based around patterns made using lines and a series of dots. This often makes the individual look quite intimidating. Some of the images are dated as far back to the mid 1700s; I enjoyed this glimpse into a different culture of a different time. Also the image of some Maori tattooing chisels is not to be missed, they are so intricately carved, a piece of art in their own right.
Classic Tattoo Designs - This section is purely old design sheets (dating back to the 1900s), and to someone surrounded by exceptional quality digital art, often seems quite badly drawn (with a few exceptions). The most common theme is of naked women dressed in a variety of shoes and hats all with the same disproportionate body. Also there are quite a few hearts and flowers with scrolls loosely framing them to give you space to have the name of your loved one(s) emblazoned on your body. The most interesting however is the very well drawn and often patriotic images focusing mainly on English and American imagery, these contain a lot of flags bellowing in the back ground and a lot of bulldogs and eagles, but don't let that put you off they are very well drawn!
From the Early Days to the 1980s - This section is larger than the previous two combined! The bits that jump out at me are tattooed circus ladies, with images from around the turn of the century. Sadly have noticed a lot of poor quality tattoos which frankly look like a child scrawled on the person in crayon (but presume this is just show casing the different between tattooists and tattoo artists in my opinion). A rather cute and interesting theme that re occurs is tattooed bras and corsets, the more dainty and spaced out the better it looks! I personally can't understand why people would have things tattooed on their faces let alone the array of words, fake moustaches and religious symbols in this section - would make it impossible to be taken seriously - by anyone!
There are quite a few full body tattoos which are quite exquisite. One of which is a guy done neck to foot in black with beautiful images within this bodysuit depicted by the flesh left unmarked, not something for the faint of heart! The only downside of these full body tattoos is you are given a complete profile, where in some cases you find yourself trying to see the detail and wondering what smaller pieces make up this larger overall image. As you move onto the colour images I found myself distracted by the obviously spaced out looks on a lot of the people's faces - makes you wonder if tattooists wouldn't work on people under the influence of drink and drugs!
Japanese Tattoos - This section is where my heart truly lies; I have always adored the 'Oriental' culture often leaning more towards Japanese as my primary focus. The quality seems pretty uniform and there aren't many that jump out at me of being done by someone incompetent (although it may just be that they chose only decent images for this section). Very predictable theme's with dragons, samurai and sumo images, along with fish and fat babies. These often have water / fire / floral back ground making it a huge statement piece rather than an array of individual images. Most cover the entire back often leading onto the buttocks and higher thigh (obviously with some a lot bigger and smaller). Rather interestingly this section opens with a removed and mounted skin, although you don't know anything about the individual it belonged to, I must say it looks amazing and has aged well (can only presume the person had it for a few years at least before dying).
Contemporary Tattoo Art - I love this section after looking through the previous ones you can see how modern tattoos are heavily influenced and improvements of the older ones. Mainly abstract, a lot of tribal and Japanese influences along with a popular culture twist. Images of people are now done incredibly life like (obviously results vary artist to artist, but don't understand why someone would go to someone that they weren't impressed with their work as a tattoo is after all for life), and include a lot of shading and a wide variety of tone.
I have quite a few favourites from this section which includes a barcode, which I believe sends a political message about how we all are just consumers', just another faceless number trudging through life. I also enjoys a piece done on someone's shaved head which is of a plate of food, with cutlery across it and slanting down towards the face, I enjoy not only the style but how beautifully an everyday sight can be portrayed. And last but not least there is a wonderfully cute images of the last supper performed by cartoon frogs, its truly charming down to the mouse throwing up on the floor and a frogs eyes literally popping out of his head - pure genius!
I seem to have rambled on quite a bit now, just tend to get passionate about art, and tattooing is a passion of mine (even though I have yet to get my first one done!). This book is great to have lying around the house, the images are fantastic and quite inspirational, not the kind of book to buy if you want to learn about the process and inspiration of tattoo artists, but more of one to have if seeking inspiration yourself.
I became obsessed with tattoos at a very young age; I would look for tattoos on people and often ask them what their tattoos meant and why they got them. Predictably at about 14 years old I started to want a tattoo. I pestered my Mum for two years solid and when I was 16 she thought she'd call my bluff. She marched me into a tattooist and told me to pick a tattoo and get it done there and then. She thought I would wimp out but I didn't and I still love the tattoo I got that day. I guess some people are just meant to get ink.
Anyway, I digress the point in hand is the fabulous book, "1000 Tattoos". I found this little gem in a bookshop that was closing down for the princely sum of £1.00 although on Amazon copies are selling from £17.30 to £52.39.
The cover of the book has tattoo photos on the front and back, the back being a naked lady, (well she has gloves on), from the neck down to nether regions. This should give a clue that the book is not for the faint hearted or those who object to nudity or indeed tattoos.
The text in the book is written by the oh-so-cooly-named, Henk Schiffmacher and the photography and edited by Henk and the also-cooly-named, Burkhard Riemschneider.
Henk Schiffmacher is famous tattooist, artist and writer. He has a cool website where you can read all about him, some of the site is in Dutch, at www.henkschiffmacher.nl. (The "About Henk" section is in English).
The book is published by one of my favourite publishers - Taschen. Taschen produce the most beautiful "coffee table books" featuring art, photography and design. A lot of the books tend to be erotic in one or the other but in my opinion they are not sleazy or seedy at all and they are defiantly not pornography. They do, of course publish less controversial material, many of their design books for example. To find out more about Taschen visit, www.taschen.com.
On to the content of the book; the first 50 odd pages of the book, (titled, "On the History and Practice of Tattooing"), are text and teeny tiny text at that, (about 8 point), which means you will have difficulty reading this in anything other than strong light or if you have a problem with your eyesight. The same text is in English first then it is repeated in German and then again in French.
I have only read this section once and found it hard to read, it's not the tiny text that is at fault but the writing style, perhaps it was translated from German into English but it just doesn't flow well and although I am very interested in the subject I find that it actually bores me. I mean this is only my opinion another person may find it easy to read but I really struggled to stay gripped.
Once past the bland beginning you will find page after page, (about 644 pages in total), of photos and illustrations. They are separated into 5 sections, Ethnographic Tattoos, Classical Tattoo Designs, From the Early Days to the 1980s, Japanese Tattoos and Contemporary Tattoo Art.
Ethnographic Tattoos are tattoos that relate to or are part of someone's culture such as the tribal tattoos worn by many African tribes and the Maori of New Zealand. In my opinion the most fascinating part of this section are the pictures of cave painting featuring tattooed men showing that tattoos pre-date most modern religions and are in fact one of the oldest forms of artistic expression.
This section and in fact all the other sections contain both male and female nudity so as I mentioned earlier this may be offensive to some people.
Classical Tattoo Designs shows many beautiful pictures of the more traditional and kitsch tattoos. There is a heavy nautical influence obviously from the huge amount of sailors that got tattoos. These are my favourite tattoos and in fact they are the type of tattoos I have. You will find anchors, mermaids, hearts, birds etc in bright red, blues and greens.
From the Early Days to the 1980s does what it says on the tin. There is a selection of photos from the 1900s through to 1980. I was surprised at how many women were being tattooed so early on. They are not all demure, easy to hide tattoos either, some are pretty in your face. You also get the circus side-show tattoos in this bit which I love.
Japanese Tattoos shows the distinct cultural differences between the Orient and the Western world. The section begins with heavily tattooed skin that has been removed and mounted which is, in my opinion, a little gross but fascinating non-the-less. The tattoos shown here tend to be larger, often covering the whole back or torso.
Contemporary Tattoo Art shows the direction tattoo art went from the 1980s onwards. It is interesting to note that this is the most diverse section of the book featuring influences from all the previous eras. My favourite photo from this section has to be the double page photo of Antony Kiedis, (lead singer of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers), looking like he is on another planet getting a tattoo in Amsterdam!
This book is mainly for leafing through and looking interesting but the bit at the beginning adds a little substance for those who want to read about tattoos. I personally feel that it would take a lot more space to write a comprehensive history on the art but for a brief summery it's not too bad, just a little boring.
The photos themselves are fantastic and what makes this book worth owning. If you pop it on the coffee table, (or even in the loo), people will no doubt pick it up and have a look through. Even people who don't really like tattoos have found this book interesting.
I find an extra bit of enjoyment from the fact that many of the photos are from Bristol, mostly those from the Scuse family who have been tattooing in Bristol since the 40s.
I think this books would be great for any body with an interest in tattoos and especially useful if you would like a tattoo but don't know what style to go for.
I am going to award it 4 stars, (it loses 1 for the text at the beginning).
All about the art of tattooing.