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Member Name: Donnabroom
Advantages: Beautiful photography, loads of tattoos
Disadvantages: The text at the beginning is boring
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).
Summary: An interesting book depicting tattoos.
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