good actions, bad laughs

Key words for today’s post would be ‘charity’ and ‘making fun of fan tattoos’ as there’s a high number of articles devoted to just these these topics.

Let’s start with this more interesting one: tragedy in Haiti is yesterday’s news by now but there are people who remember that help is still needed; sure enough, *in*famous ‘low-life’ tattooed people jump to help, too: WA, AZ and, much earlier, a nice action in Australia.

Free tattoos are also offered to celebrate museum opening in Greensboro, NC; I used my meagre Google skills to learn more about the reason for celebration and it seems like it’s acool one: the Greensboro Four.

An interesting photgtaphy exhibit described in this blog from Chicago: ‘Baby, is that a new tattoo?‘  The concept behind the exhibit seems thought-provoking.

Less thought-provoking are these articles about *cough* branding performed on one of TCU students.

Thaipusam festival in Singapore’ is a slide show of the event.

And finally the whole streak of fan tattoos: ‘Manchester City fan blue,’ ‘Saints’ fans in black and gold,’ ‘Chad Kroeger tattoo easily hidden,’ ‘Mom gets a tattoo to secure her daughter free tickets to the shows’ and one ‘Chicago Bears tattoo.’ Maybe a waste of time but also a lesson not to take things too seriously all the time.

law, economy and some fun

Industry regulations in FL, SC (these are interesting) and from England.

Local shops in ‘Depp tattooist opens in Bath,’ ‘tattoo artist credits 31 years of experience as a key to success,’ ‘tattooist Darren makes his mark’ and ‘breaking down stereotypes one tat at a time.’ Mr Depp tattooist was quoted saying soemthing very interesting: “Many tattooists see themselves as part of God’s unfinished world. He couldn’t decorate the skin, so he left it to us.”

Two sides of the economy coin: LA tattoo shops seem to be flourishing while FL tattoo shops are more on the struggling side; or so say the journalists.

When I was reading an article about fans loving a show so much that they decided to get tattoos to honor it, I started thinking if there was a show I like enough to get a tattoo of. And then I remembered that once I loved BME so much that I got its logo tattooed on me. From shaking my head over the fans’ choice I went to ‘aah, I understand the sentiment!’

This one looks cool enough for me: temporary tattoo fun for kids, this time in a hand puppet form!

book review: alphabets and scripts. tattoo design directory

 As someone who loves words and languages, is able to use three languages fairly well and is into tattoos, it was inevitable for me to end up with a text tattoo sooner or later (as a matter of fact, it was ‘sooner’!). What I do care about the most here is words and emotions they carry for me but the more interested in tattoos I become, the more I come to appreciate such factors as aesthetics, functionality, legibility, boldness, size. With Vince Hemingson’s new book on alphabets and scripts, one can start from nothing and build their knowledge on the subject gradually or one can just embrace the subject and enjoy the thoroughness of the author’s research and easy to grasp language the book is written in.

In my review of the (hopefully) first volume of the Tattoo Design Directory, I wrote that the book is decent but also both too general and not detailed enough. Not the case this time as the author did an awesome job on researching the subject and came up with tons of useful information, interesting trivia and a wonderful, very admirable respect toward both languages and cultures that stand behind them.

Introduction is usually this part of the book I view with suspicion – sure it’s useful but it’s also a prelude before the more interesting parts. In this case, skipping the Introduction would be a big mistake. Hemingson shares here some of his own insight on the subject, stating how ‘[the words] have the power to convey concise meaning with enormous emotional impact’ (and there’s a simple, obvious and true power to these words) and then does something great – presents his readers with a Q&A spiel with experts on typography, an academic Ina Saltz, a designer Daniel Will-Harris, tattoo artists (Thomas Lockhart and Shanghai Kate) and designers who love both graphic design and tattoos. As I personally see it, this part of the book can both serve as a means to show the vast amount of options typography presents to us but also as a lesson to teach us what challenges both human body and text tattoos present both to tattoo artists and people who want to make them a part of themselves.

The main body of the book consists of three parts and all of them are quite fascinating to read.

A brief history of text tattoos and alphabet’ discusses text tattoos in historical context, with an insight added by Chuck Eldridge. A short history of alphabet sheds light on the process of developing the alphabet as we know it now (and, of course, writing ‘the alphabet’ I mean the Latin one!) and the hidden meanings of numbers. In short, a great, (too brief for my taste) piece of history of culture.

Alphabets and scripts’ is the biggest part of the book and, in my opinion, the most interesting one. Hemingson discusses here the history of many systems of writing, from Egyptian hieroglyphs to the Cyrillic to the Elvish alphabet. What we get is not just a few pictures of a given alphabet and a few lines of basic information but quite detailed a description of the origins of a given system of writing and basic information on how it works and how it should be written down. What’s more important, Hemingson displays his anthropological vein and asks us to approach an alphabet of our choice with respect and caution!

The third part of the book is ‘the tattoo font library’ that briefly discusses the history of fonts (again, interesting trivia and setting everything in a cultural context) only to present a small range of font styles we can choose from. It’s interesting on its own and even though I’ve always been a fan of Franklin Gothic and ‘Creepy’ fonts, I might also become a fan of Flood or Trajan Regular now.

Do I find anything missing from this book? I would love to see here at least a page or two about livestock brands, seeing as Hemingson stated in his previous book that ‘they evolved into a language of their own, especially on the American Western frontier.’ I would also love to see a few pages of bibliography included at the end of the book – this way a more inquisitive reader could pursue their interests on their own. But these are just minor details!

Is the book worth some of our precious time to read it? Yes, it is. Is it worth some of our attention to hear the author and become more cautious and respectful when it comes to our choices of text tattoos? Yes, it certainly is. Do I hope for another part of The Tattoo Design Directory? Hell, I do!

Vince Hemingson, Alphabets and Scripts. Tattoo Design Directory, Chartwell Books, Inc. 2010


A little more about MSU tattoomatching technology.

Tattoos and holiday in a German travel-oriented article about Papua New Guinea and an Australian one about a guy giving up his own skin, so his old parents could go for hliday abroad.

People and their various motives to modify their bodies in this one (thanks, Bastian!).

Marine Corps and their new tattoo policy here.

Tattoos for a good cause this time at Berlin Fashion Week. Speaking of fashion, article featuring one of the supermodels ‘talking tattoos and sexuality in fashion’ is worth checking out.

Some entertainment in an interview with Louis Molloy and a slideshow showing Hollywood’s fake tattoos.

around the world in a few pieces of news

When temperature over here sinks lower and lower, it’s hard to believe that somewhere else people are readying for the summer. They are, however, and the Australian doctors launched a health campaign warning against risks related to body piercings.

More news from the southern hemisphere: a big success of the Taiwanese tattoo artists and an interesting idea from Japan: Kewpie dolls with tattoos.

The news from the US include Kate Hellenbrand’s unfortunate accident, a deal involving MSU tattoo-match technology and a small update on one of the American ‘tattoo schools.’

Europe: a photography exhibit showing tattooed women  and a documentary about Mara Salvatrucha from Germany, interesting and quite amusing news about the ‘QueenHelen Mirren who (surprise surprise) has a tattoo and hates it and a down-to-earth and stripped of any celeb-like pretensions interview with a local English tattooist.

Something for indirectly-related category was submitted by Bastian (thank you!): an interview with Dolly Parton where, in a way, she discusses her own take on body modification.

book review: Body Type

 This book is not new by any means since it was published in 2006. I’ve always been into words and then text tattoos, so I bought it right after I found out about it. I remember it made a big impression on me although, as many other books I own, it just ended up on my bookshelf. Then I shared it with one of my friends and now, when the book resurfaced for me again, I could flip through it and it felt like discovering it anew!

The simplicity of the idea behind the book still amazes me and it truly shows that there are many small wonders around us and all we need to do is to open our eyes just a bit more. Something as obvious as a wide variety of fonts available often escapes us and when it comes to tattoos, we usually end up with either our own handwriting or a decorative cursive carefully written down for us by our artists. Ina Saltz, an expert on graphic design and fonts, shares here her ‘typophile’s’ passion and shows that sky is the limit.

As she said herself, her initial idea for this book was to write about ‘the history and appropriateness of the letterforms to convey a particular message.’ Soon, however, she became fascinated with the stories behind the tattoos and decided to focus not only on fonts used to create them but also on meanings they held to their owners. She never made it overbearing, though, so pictures of the tattoos always are in the foreground while the people and their stories are placed in the background – a subtle touch that allows the reader to enjoy both the first, visual layer of the book and its deeper, textual one.

The introductory part is worth spending some time on it as well as it’s focused not as much on the tattoo history as rather on the typography and word/text/typographical tattoos, quite rightly pointing out that ‘words serve as literal text as well as figurative art, revealing beliefs, challenges and value systems.’ In a way, one word tattoo can serve as a picture that is believed to be better than thousand words thus showing how pregnant with meaning and how rich in potential text tattoos may be!

‘Body Type’ can be read or just flipped through and it still is both entertaining and informative!

‘Body Type 2’ is supposed to be published in March 2010 and I’m already looking forward to reading it.

Ina Saltz, Body Type. Intimated Messages Etched in Flesh, Abrams Image 2006

book review: tattoo design directory

 Another book about tattoos and this time it’s by Vince Hemingson of the vanishing tattoo fame. It makes quite a good first impression as it’s a sort of hard, black cover and spiral bound – certainly not the usual book format.

The book’s full title is ‘Tattoo Design Directory. The Essential Reference for Body Art’ and it’s recommended as a reference source both for body art enthusiasts and artists. It’s quite questionable, however, as the book is general enough to make it not informative enough for people deeper interested in tattoos and their meanings and yet, at the same time, too thorough for someone who’s thinking about getting one small piece and that’s it. As (one of many) shop reference it may do the job, though.

 What’s worth attention in this one? The introductory part, even though general, outlines tattooing practices around the world in much detailed a way than other general works on the subject. Since Hemingson is interested both in writing and photographing, one can also find here a few very interesting photographs of tattooed people from various cultures (not only Maori men, as we’re quite used to see male moko tattoos, but also Maori woman or Borneo elders; a short section on Haida tattoos is quite interesting, too!). The main part, design directory, is divided into sections such as ‘animals,’ ‘music,’ ‘faith and spirituality’ or ‘zodiac.’ Sections are brief and well-illustrated (for such a small book) and always contain interesting information on meanings and history of particular designs.

Comparing it with the Tattoo Encyclopedia by Terisa Green, one must admit that Tattoo Design Directory is better illustrated but it also contains fewer entries. Both titles present enough interesting information on the most popular tattoo designs to keep their readers interested for some time which doesn’t change the fact that both books are too general for an enthusiast and too packed up with details for a person thinking about their first or second tattoo only.

All in all, a decent reference book indeed but not really worth the money if you’re into tattoos for good (although buying it as a gift for your tattoo artist may be a good idea – it’s useful enough to make a good gift and cheap enough to let you spend more money on your new tattoo).

Vince Hemingson, Tattoo Design Directory, Chartwell Books, Inc. 2009

roots, glory, bizarreness

Being swamped with RL work means not much time for anything else but here you have a few interesting links from the last week:

Multiple tattoos linked to deviant behavior are something to consider but then again, ‘tattoos can [also] reveal your lover’s personality.’ Get tattooed at your responsibility then?

Eyeball tattoo trend’ seems to claim things that are not really there.

Tattoos in much of their historical and cultural glory exhibited as ‘the culture of ink’ at one of American universities.

Another side of tattoo glory in pictures from the Bangkok International Tattoo Convention.

Interesting tidbits of history: ‘the buzz about tattoos’ and ‘Kate Hellenbrand: the godmother of tattooing.’

Bizarre news in a short article in Dutch about a guy who got an interesting (or not) facial tattoo and a pretty cool slideshow showing ‘Circus of Horrors.’

BBC’s celeb tattoo quiz for those into something lighter and gossipy; much to my own amusement (and relief?) I scored only 2 points.

tattoo fair

I’m not a fan of the news focused on celebs but these are quite good for a few reasons: the article showing David Beckham’s body art-related evolution is interesting – body becoming less and less blank, so often both admired and criticized and, certainly, his own self-perception also changing over time (even us ordinary mortals with some ink coverage experience that); another one mentioning an Austrian model who doesn’t hide her tattoos while doing photo shoots but rather exposing them and using to her advantage and, on the opposite side, Megan Fox signing a lucrative ad campaign deal, eager to ‘doctor’ her body to look more acceptable. Choices are ours and yet we are so often manipulated by people out there.

 A cross of conventional beauty playing with an alternative touch in an article about MissInkAmerica pageant.

Another product exploiting popularity of tattoos: ‘iLuvTatz headphones.’

If you liked the headphone spelling, you’ll also like this one: ‘the 20 worst typo tattoos’ (for some reason I found the captions hilarious and, to make it even funnier, I managed to misspell ‘hilarious,’ so thanks gawds for spell checker!).

fashion, prison and down-to-earth guys

Beginning of a new year always makes us more determined to stick to our resolutions; for some ‘tattoos [may seem] better than new year’s resolutions.’

Australian tattooing has its own share of popular symbols but looks like some of them are being replaced: ‘love of Australia more than skin deep.’ Also from Australia come these articles: ‘inking a reputation’ about the upcoming Surf’n’Ink tattoo convention and ‘painted ladies become poster girls for tattoo culture’ which is self-explanatory.

More mainstream ‘poster girls’ are getting edgy thanks to temporary tattoos by Chanel brand itself (also in Dutch and Spanish).

Prisoners may have been trend setters when it came to tattoos but it’s long gone times; these days they are rather followers of more extreme modifications: ‘inmates with eye tattoo;’ as always, let me direct you to Shannon Larratt’s blog where you can find both detailed and sensible information on the procedure.

Rebellious (or careless?) teenager in an article about body piercing without parental consent; interesting also because it sheds some light on the industry regulations in TX.

I must admit I’ve never heard about Lehigh Valley before but I read the article about the local tattoo artists there with some interest (always interested in stuff with local touch after all); words of one of the artists quoted made me smile, though: While the shows have made tattoos more popular and mainstream, since those shows started, “I’ve had to hear everyone’s life stories,” Santa says. “If you like artwork, get artwork. Everything doesn’t have to have a meaning behind it.” Amen, I guess?