‘Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting a Tattoo’ is an interesting proof of growing popularity of tattoos. Publishing houses certainly do some research before deciding what to publish, so obviously there must be at least some demand for such books. Granted, it’s not the first book of this kind available but if there’s some interest in the subject, then there also must be some chance to profit from it and here we have this particular guide.
The main goal of Alpha series is, as one can read on wikipedia, ‘providing a basic understanding of complex and popular topic’ which is true about tattoos – popular they sure are and definitely more complex than it seems at first.
The author is John Reardon whose name may be not particularly well-known but who seems to be knowledgeable and able to present the subject of the book in a clear, easy to grasp manner.
The guide is divided into three parts: ‘what is a tattoo,’ ‘beginning the tattoo process’ and ‘get in the chair.’ Each part contains several chapters describing such questions as history of tattoos, tattoos and the society, choosing a design and the right artist, basic information on skin and how the tattoo machine works, tattoo process itself and proper aftercare once the tattoo is done. Chapters are short and pretty well focused although one can’t expect elaborate information on history of tattooing, indigenous cultures or intricacies of meaning behind tattoos as that’s simply not the goal of the book.
Despite the limitations of the book (its size and goal), the author managed to convey a few interesting pieces of information about tattooing in the modern Western society, gang tattoos and changing attitudes about tattoos although it’s certainly not a book one would use as a main source of information. If the reader is a potential first-timer, however, this book may certainly ease the fears and make the whole process less intimidating – knowledge is power and here one can see what steps must be completed before a good quality tattoo is achieved.
The guide is well indexed. Appendix A contains glossary of the most important and common terms used in the industry. Flash designs in Appendix B and ‘dramatic full-color photos of tattoos’ added as an extra are not really that impressive although some of them are able to show the magic of tattoos and what can be done by a skilled and imaginative tattoo artist. Appendix C contains titles of several books recommended to read.
All in all, it’s an interesting title showing the growing interest in tattoo subculture in the mainstream society. It also is a small database of important information on the subject which makes it quite good an idiot’s guide.
John Reardon, Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting a Tattoo, Alpha Books 2008;