Read Any Good Tattoos Lately?

“The tattoo is a marker of life’s journey,” designer Ed Hardy writes in his memoir. Perhaps that is why tattoos hold a certain fascination even for those who don’t have them. The concept of choosing from an infinite variety of images to permanently affix to the body is compelling. Why do people choose the designs they do? Some unique books on the topic have recently arrived at the library. Ranging from an adult memoir and nonfiction to a children’s picture book, each offers a different window into the world of tattoo.

Pen & Ink: Tattoos & the Stories behind Them, Isaac Fitzgerald - This book is for anyone who ever wanted to ask a stranger: What’s the story behind your tattoo? Sixty-three people, from bartenders to professors, explain the stories behind their tattoos, often illuminating some significant aspect of the life of the wearer. Some of the people are well known. Cheryl Strayed (of Wild fame) introduces the book and writes about her divorce tattoo. Wendy MacNaughton illustrates each page with pen and ink drawings, sketching the wearer in black contour with the tattoo in full color and detail.

Wear Your Dreams: My Life in Tattoos, - Ed Hardy - Many of the tattoo designs we take for granted as classics, such as the “Love Kills Slowly” heart and skull design, had their origins with tattoo designer Ed Hardy, who helped raise the profile of tattooing as an art form. This illustrated memoir reveals his development from a kid growing up in 1950s California who drew elaborate imagery on his friends using black eyeliner and watercolor pencils, to a connoisseur who studied with international tattoo masters, to the developer of an iconic brand worth billions.

Tell Me a Tattoo Story, Alison McGhee - In this surprisingly tender picture book, a father tells his young son the stories behind his tattoos. Each one represents a piece of family history and together they tell the story of his life leading up to the birth of his child. One tattoo reminds him of a favorite book his mother read to him as a child, and another reminds him of the “the longest trip he ever took” as a soldier. Movingly illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, this picture book is appropriate for even the smallest children.

Check out one of these books to learn more about one of the world’s oldest art forms and the people behind the ink.

-Suzanne Summers LaPierre, City of Fairfax Regional Library

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