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