Pushing Ink: The Fine Art of Tattooing (Spider Webb, 1979)


A classic reborn, here is a book that opened new territory in 1979, revealing the bodies of those who patronized underground artists. The bodies of these tattooed men and women stand in testament to an ancient art, long forbidden in the West. This is a celebration of tattoo art, the artists, and the bold canvases who dance across these pages with unabashed joy in their beautifully adorned flesh. It is the story of the fight to legalize and legitimize an art undeniably beautiful in design, bold in color, and stamped indelibly upon God's own earthly temple.


Tatoues, qui etes vous? [Tattooed, who are you?] (C. Bruno, 1974)


A pioneer of body art, Bruno is also the first tattoo artist in Paris. It was in 1960 that Bruno opened the doors of the very first tattoo studio in Paris. At the time, the discipline is still marginal. The tools of the tattooist were rudimentary, hygiene conditions were not always ideal. But Bruno stands out from underground tattoo artists and other counter artists by offering a true artistic vision and professional work. "Tattooed, who are you? will serve as a reference for a future generation.


Irezumi Japanese Tattooing (Ichiro Morita, 1966)


Limited Edition of 1966, the first photo book about Japanese Tattooing. The author is photographer, Ichiro Morita, with an introductory Essay by Donald Richie. Japanese and English.

This book was re-evaluated from the viewpoint of customs, psychology, art from the tattoo of Japan, pursuing the art of tattoo. The commentary stated the meaning of tattoo, what kind of people were tattooing at that time, etc. It is one book deepening about Japanese tattoo further.


Tattoos of the Floating World: Ukiyo-e Motifs in the Japanese Tattoo (Katie Kitamura and Takahiro Kitamura, 2003)


This unique book by tattoo artist Takahiro Kitamura (Horitaka, a pupil of Horiyoshi III) discusses the art of the Japanese tattoo in the context of Ukiyo-e, concentrating on the parallel histories of the woodblock print and the tattoo. Through high quality illustrations it shows that the Japanese tattoo is highly reliant on and linked to the woodblock print and that it deserves a position among the other art forms. A range of typical ukiyo-e motifs in the Japanese tattoo are discussed and illustrated by the original Japanese prints, and sketches, drawings and tattoos by tattoo master Horiyoshi III. The book ends with a special essay by Don Ed Hardy.


Art, sex and symbol: the mystery of tattooing (R. W. B. Scutt & Christopher Gotch, 1974)

The World of Tattoo (Maarten Hesselt van Dinter, 2005)


Despite a growing fascination with tattooing among social scientists--and the popularity of tattoos themselves in general--the practice of tattooing has lacked a comprehensive historical record. Until very recently, there was no good context for writing a serious world history of tattooing. This new volume conveys the richness of the history of tattooing from antiquity to the present day.
Unlike most other tattoo books that describe one aspect this book conveys the overall picture. It takes you to each of the seven continents with descriptions of their tattoo history and tattoo practices. Thus the book provides the reader with a truly global view of tattooing. It adds new information and new examples and insights that give the reader a new perspective.

By combining empirical history, powerful cultural analysis, and a highly readable style, the author adds an important step to the ongoing effort of writing a meaningful cultural history of tattooing. He does not draw new conclusions or present shocking new theories, but suggests and invites the reader to form his own opinions. This publication presents the reader with a vast amount of textual and visual information. From the well known examples from Tahiti to rarely seen Chinese tattoos, from the Ice Maiden to modern day Western tattoos--they are all there. Many of the approximately 400 color illustrations are unique images that have never been published before.


Tattoo History: a source book (Steve Gilbert, 2000)


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.


Pierced hearts and true love; an illustrated history of the origin and development of European tattooing and a survey of its present state (Hanns Ebensten, 1953)

The Brain's Body (Victoria Pitts-Taylor, 2018)


In The Brain's Body Victoria Pitts-Taylor brings feminist and critical theory to bear on new development in neuroscience to demonstrate how power and inequality are materially and symbolically entangled with neurobiological bodies. Pitts-Taylor is interested in how the brain interacts with and is impacted by social structures, especially in regard to race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability, as well as how those social structures shape neuroscientific knowledge. Pointing out that some brain scientists have not fully abandoned reductionist or determinist explanations of neurobiology, Pitts-Taylor moves beyond debates over nature and nurture to address the politics of plastic, biosocial brains. She highlights the potential of research into poverty's effects on the brain to reinforce certain notions of poor subjects and to justify particular forms of governance, while her queer critique of kinship research demonstrates the limitations of hypotheses based on heteronormative assumptions. In her exploration of the embodied mind and the "embrained" body, Pitts-Taylor highlights the inextricability of nature and culture and shows why using feminist and queer thought is essential to understanding the biosociality of the brain.


The history of tattooing and its significance (Wilfrid Dyson Hambly; 1925)


This 1925 survey constitutes one of the most complete histories of world tattoo practices. It was written at the end of a significant era in anthropological fieldwork, when the efforts of missionaries and the impact of European imperialism had suppressed all but the final vestiges of indigenous native tattoo traditions. Subsequent opportunities for original fieldwork related to tattooing were rare, making this book a valuable link to vanishing cultures.

In addition to 80 photographs and illustrations many of them new to this edition this fascinating study discusses the significance of tattoos and other forms of body marking in terms of religious beliefs and social purposes. Author Wilfrid Dyson Hambly offers a wealth of examples from fieldwork conducted around the world. Hambly discusses the religious and magical uses of tattooing, which range from the prevention of pain, protection against witchcraft, and attraction of good luck to the preservation of youth and insurance of the survival of the soul after death.


Memoirs of a tattooist (George Burchett, 1958)


Expelled from school at the age of twelve for tattooing his classmates, George Burchett-Davis joined the Royal Navy against his parents wishes a year later. His skills were encouraged during his travels, and honed by his exposure to the masters of Asia. He jumped ship in Jaffa, finding the navy to be too disciplined for his lifestyle, only returning to England twelve years later, his name shortened to avoid charges of desertion. With clients ranging from European monarchs (including the ‘Sailor King’ George V) to transient seamen, George Burchett was deemed the 'King of Tattooists,” continuing his art until his sudden death in 1953. This is the first edition of his collected memoirs, published five years posthumously.


Tattoo: Secrets of a Strange Art (Albert Parry, 1933)


Tattoo: Secrets of a Strange Art first appeared in 1933, when the majority of people with tattoos were sailors, prostitutes, and criminals. Venturing from waterfront tattoo parlors to circus midways, author Albert Parry talked to many of the great tattoo artists of the early twentieth century about their techniques. Parry was among the first to analyze the custom's subconscious motivations and to expose its erotic implications. His fascinating stories examine overt and subliminal tattoo messages of masochistic tendencies, membership in a select society, sexual fantasy and romantic devotion, patriotism, and religious fervor. A unique historical document and a compelling psychological study, this book offers a thought-provoking look at one aspect of the human drive for self-expression.


Bad Boys and Tough Tattoos: A Social History of the Tattoo With Gangs, Sailors, and Street-Corner Punks 1950-1965 (Samual Steward aka Phil Sparrow)


In the early 1950s, when tattoos were the indelible mark of a lowlife, an erudite professor of English—a friend of Gertrude Stein, Thomas Mann, Andre Gide, and Thornton Wilder—abandoned his job to become a tattoo artist (and incidentally a researcher for Alfred Kinsey). Bad Boys and Tough Tattoos tells the story of his years working in a squalid arcade on Chicago’s tough State Street. During that time he left his mark on a hundred thousand people, from youthful sailors who flaunted their tattoos as a rite of manhood to executives who had to hide their passion for well-ornamented flesh.

Bad Boys and Tough Tattoos is anything but politically correct. The gritty, film-noir details of Skid Row life are rendered with unflinching honesty and furtive tenderness. His lascivious relish for the young sailors swaggering or staggering in for a new tattoo does not blind him to the sordidness of the world they inhabited. From studly nineteen-year-olds who traded blow jobs for tattoos to hard-bitten dykes who scared the sailors out of the shop, the clientele was seedy at best: sailors, con men, drunks, hustlers, and Hells Angels.


The Antisocial Skin: Structure, Resistance, and "Modern Primitive" Adornment in the United States (Daniel Rosenblatt, 1992)


Read my paper on the Modern Primitives

My aims in this article are twofold: first, to illuminate the activities of U.S. modern primitives by placing them in their cultural and historical context and, second, to use this example to make a general argument about resistance move- ments and their relation to existing social and cultural structures. In analyzing modern primitives I show how they mobilize both basic Western understandings of the world as embodied in cosmogonic mythology and classical economic theory (Sahlins 1996) and more immediate and historically particular American ideas about selves, society, and experience (Cannon 1989; Fox and Lears 1983; Lears 1983; McCracken 1988). In the process, I deploy a conception of cultural systems that understands them less as determinants of social activity and more as providing a framework for such activity—that is, as constituting the possibility of meaning. It is these "conditions of meaningfulncss" that I seek to explore for the practices represented in Modern Primitives.


The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion (Mircea Eliade; 1959)


In The Sacred and the Profane, Mircea Eliade observes that while contemporary people believe their world is entirely profane, or secular, they still at times find themselves connected unconsciously to the memory of something sacred. It's this premise that both drives Eliade's exhaustive exploration of the sacred; as it has manifested in space, time, nature and the cosmos, and life itself; and buttresses his expansive view of the human experience.


The Rites of Passage (Van Gennep, 1969)

Tattoo Time Magazine (Ed Hardy, 1982)


Tattootime truly changed the world—documents, ideas, and images that have become legendary. Now experience its timeless impact.

Now all five Tattootimes — New Tribalism (1982), Tattoo Magic (1983), Music & Sea Tattoos (1984), Life & Death Tattoos (1987), and Art From the Heart (1991) are in two beautiful hardbound volumes, enclosed in a sturdy slipcase. All contents are from the first edition of each original—subsequent reprints omitted some material. The combined volumes add up to 352 full color pages, plus original covers, and an added 27-page subject and title index to the entire series.


Marks of Civilization: Artistic Transformations of the Human Body (Arnold Rubin; 1988)


Body piercing, scarification, tattooingfor thousands of years decorative alteration of the human body has been invested with profound cultural and social meaning. This remarkable collection of essays, photographs, and drawings focuses on the many and diverse ways that human beings have permanently decorated their bodies. Marks of Civilization grew out of a symposium entitled "Art of the Body" held at the University of California, Los Angeles in the early 1980s. Contributors encompass the fields of anthropology, sociology, art history, archaeology, and folklore. The geographical and historical perspectives are from Europe and Euro- America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Pacific Basin (Asia, Oceania, and Native America). The book's text and photographs acknowledge body art as a meaningful part of human behavior. What dominates throughout is the recognition of artistic potency, mysterious or commonplace, that is a part of marking the body.


Convict Tattoos: Marked men and women of Australia (Simon Barnard, 2016)


Read my review of Convict Tattoos here.

At least thirty-seven per cent of male convicts and fifteen per cent of female convicts were tattooed by the time they arrived in the penal colonies, making Australians quite possibly the world’s most heavily tattooed English-speaking people of the nineteenth century.

Each convict’s details, including their tattoos, were recorded when they disembarked, providing an extensive physical account of Australia’s convict men and women.

Simon Barnard has meticulously combed through those records to reveal a rich pictorial history. Convict Tattoos explores various aspects of tattooing—from the symbolism of tattoo motifs to inking methods, from their use as means of identification and control to expressions of individualism and defiance—providing a fascinating glimpse of the lives of the people behind the records.