Resources

Books

A collection of books related to body modification, tattoos, et cetera.


Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo

Bodies of Subversion was the first history of women’s tattoo art when it was released in 1997, providing a fascinating excursion to a subculture that dates back to the nineteenth-century and including many never-before-seen photos of tattooed women from the last century. As the primary reference source on the subject, it contains information from the original edition, including documentation of:

  • Nineteeth-century sideshow attractions who created fantastic abduction tales in which they claimed to have been forcibly tattooed.
  • Victorian society women who wore tattoos as custom couture, including Winston Churchill’s mother, who wore a serpent on her wrist.
  • Maud Wagner, the first known woman tattooist, who in 1904 traded a date with her tattooist husband-to-be for an apprenticeship.
  • The parallel rise of tattooing and cosmetic surgery during the 80s when women tattooists became soul doctors to a nation afflicted with body anxieties.
  • Breast cancer survivors of the 90s who tattoo their mastectomy scars as an alternative to reconstructive surgery or prosthetics.

The Tattooed Lady: A History

Living in a time when it was scandalous even to show a bit of ankle, a small number of courageous women covered their bodies in tattoos and traveled the country, performing nearly nude on carnival stages. These gutsy women spun amazing stories for captivated audiences about abductions and forced tattooing at the hands of savages, but little has been shared of their real lives. Though they spawned a cultural movement—almost a quarter of Americans now have tattoos—these women have largely faded into history. The Tattooed Lady uncovers the true stories behind these women, bringing them out of the sideshow realm and into their working class realities. Combining thorough research with more than a hundred historical photos, this updated second edition explores tattoo origins, women’s history, circus lore, and includes even more personal and professional details from modern tattooed ladies. A fascinating read, The Tattooed Lady pays tribute to a group of unique and amazing women whose legacy lives on.


The Tattoo Dictionary

Discover the true meanings behind over 200 popular tattoos with this comprehensive book, illustrated with over 100 tattoo designs.

From sailors’ swallows and Mexican skulls to prisoners’ barbed wire and intricate Maori patterns, tattoos have been used as a means of communication by cultures all over the world for thousands of years.

Through meticulous research, The Tattoo Dictionary uncovers the history of the most popular symbols in tattoo history, revealing their hidden meanings and the long-forgotten stories behind them in this beautifully packaged book.


Knives and Ink

Chefs take their tattoos almost as seriously as their knives. From gritty grill cooks in backwoods diners to the executive chefs at the world’s most popular restaurants, it’s hard to find a cook who doesn’t sport some ink. Knives & Ink features the tattoos of more than sixty-five chefs from all walks of life and every kind of kitchen, including 2014 James Beard Award-winner Jamie Bissonnette, Alaska-fishing-boat cook Mandy Lamb, Toro Bravo’s John Gorham, and many more. Each tattoo has a rich, personal story behind it: Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food remembers his mother with fiery angel wings on his forearms, and Dominique Crenn of Michelin two-starred Atelier Crenn bears ink that reminds her to do “anything in life that you put your heart into.” Like the dishes these chefs have crafted over the years, these tattoos are beautiful works of art. Knives & Ink delves into the wide and wonderful world of chef tattoos and shares their fascinating backstories, along with personal recipes from many of the chefs.


The Tattoo History Source Book

The Tattoo History Source Book is an exhaustingly thorough, lavishly illustrated collection of historical records of tattooing throughout the world, from ancient times to the present. Collected together in one place, for the first time, are texts by explorers, journalists, physicians, psychiatrists, anthropologists, scholars, novelists, criminologists, and tattoo artists.

A brief essay by Gilbert sets each chapter in an historical context. Topics covered include the first written records of tattooing by Greek and Roman authors; the dispersal of tattoo designs and techniques throughout Polynesia; the discovery of Polynesian tattooing by European explorers; Japanese tattooing; the first 19th-century European and American tattoo artists; tattooed British royalty; the invention of the tattooing machine; and tattooing in the circus.

The anthology concludes with essays by four prominent contemporary tattoo artists: Tricia Allen, Chuck Eldridge, Lyle Tuttle, and Don Ed Hardy. The references at the end of each section will provide an introduction to the extensive literature that has been inspired by the ancient-but-neglected art of tattooing. Because of its broad historical context, The Tattoo History Source Book will be of interest to the general reader as well as art historians, tattoo fans, neurasthenics, hebephrenics, and cyclothemics.


Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia

Occasionally a book is published that reveals a subculture you never dreamt existed. More rarely, that book goes on to become a phenomenon of its own. The 2004 publication of the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia was such a phenomenon, spawning two further volumes and alerting a fascinated readership worldwide to the extraordinary and hermetic world of Russian criminal tattoos (David Cronenberg, for example, made regular use of the Encyclopaedia during the making of his 2007 movie Eastern Promises). Now, Fuel has reprinted volume one of this bestselling series, whose first edition already fetches considerable sums online. The photographs, drawings and texts published in this book are part of a collection of more than 3,000 tattoos accumulated over a lifetime by a prison attendant named Danzig Baldaev. Tattoos were his gateway into a secret world in which he acted as ethnographer, recording the rituals of a closed society. The icons and tribal languages he documented are artful, distasteful, sexually explicit and sometimes just strange, reflecting as they do the lives and traditions of Russian convicts. Skulls, swastikas, harems of naked women, a smiling Al Capone, medieval knights in armor, daggers sheathed in blood, benign images of Christ, sweet-faced mothers and their babies, armies of tanks and a horned Lenin: these are the signs by which the people of this hidden world mark and identify themselves. With a foreword by Danzig Baldaev, and an introduction by Alexei Plutser-Sarno, exploring the symbolism of the Russian criminal tattoo.


Painted Bodies: African Body Painting, Tattoos, and Scarification

The seminal volume on body painting and adornment by the world’s preeminent photographers of African culture. Following the international masterpiece Africa Adorned, Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have focused on the traditions of body painting spanning the vastly unique cultures of the African continent. In a contemporary world so fascinated with tattoos and piercings, Beckwith and Fisher document the origins of these fashionable adornments as passed down through African tribal culture. Featured are portraits of the richly colored, detailed, and exquisite body paintings of the Surma, Karo, Maasai, Himba, and Hamar peoples, among others. Drawing from expeditions in the field and firsthand experiences with African peoples and cultures over the past thirty years and with more than 250 spectacular photographs, this is the definitive work on the expressiveness and imagination of African cultural painting of the human body.


Science Ink

Body art meets popular science in this elegant, mind-blowing collection, written by renowned science writer Carl Zimmer. Showcasing hundreds of eye-catching tattoos that pay tribute to various scientific disciplines, from evolutionary biology and neuroscience to mathematics and astrophysics, Science Ink reveals the stories of the individuals who chose to inscribe their obsessions in their skin. Best of all, each tattoo provides a leaping-off point for bestselling essayist and lecturer Zimmer to reflect on the science in question, whether it’s the importance of an image of Darwin’s finches or the significance of the uranium atom inked into the chest of a young radiologist.


The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide

A beautifully packaged full-color collection of literary tattoos and short personal essays, The Word Made Flesh is an intimate but anonymous confessional book, in the vein of thought-provoking anthologies like PostSecret and Not Quite What I Was Planning. Gorgeous photographs and candid commentary are collected by authors Eva Talmadge—whose short story “The Cranes” was cited as Notable Nonrequired Reading of 2008 in Dave Eggers’ *Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009*—and Justin Taylor, author of Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever, and editor of the acclaimed short fiction anthology, The Apocalypse Reader.


Video

Movies, documentaries, and more.


Needles & Pins

Artist and activist Grace Neutral heads to South Korea, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Zealand, Japan and the UK to explore both the rich histories and the rapid growth of the worldwide tattoo scene.


Tattoo Nation

Tattoo Nation tells the story of a few people who helped transform the world of tattoo, and the way we think about tattoos, forever. This is the true story of the ink revolution.


Modify

For the first time ever, in their own words, the finest, most well spoken, talented, surgeons, piercers, tattooists, cutters, body artists, and pioneers of body modification in the United States, show and tell it all.


Blood & Ink

While tattoos can be found on people in almost every country in the world, few know the history behind this ancient form of body modification. Part of this tale traveled on the arms of sailors from the islands of the South Pacific to Europe and beyond.


Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry

Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry explores the roots of American tattooing through the life of its most iconoclastic figure, Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, who is considered by many the foremost tattoo artist of all time.