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October 7, 2014 / Leslie

Review: Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them

pen-inkPen & Ink
by Isaac Fitzgerald, Wendy MacNaughton

Genre: Art
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publish Date: October 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover | 144 pages
Rating: 4 of 5

From the Publisher:

Why did you get that tattoo? Every tattoo tells a story, whether the ink is meaningful or the result of a misguided decision made at the age of fourteen, representative of the wearer’s true self or the accidental consequence of a bender. These most permanent and intimate of body adornments are hidden by pants legs and shirttails, emblazoned on knuckles, or tucked inside mouths. They are battle scars and beauty marks, totems and mementos.

My Thoughts:

While not a fan of tattoos, I am amazed – in both good and bad ways – at some of the artwork I see and have often wondered what motivated the person to make the choice they did. After all, this isn’t a decision that can easily be changed. In Pen & Ink, the authors asked the question ‘why’ to a range of mostly ordinary people (there were a few rock stars and porn stars in the mix), and received a fascinating array of answers.

While the stories are often serious, the book is presented in a whimsical fashion with the tattoos drawn in 4-color illustrations rather than photographs, and the essays are printed using a handwriting-style font. At first glance it resembles a graphic novel.

The stories range from only a few words, to long, full-page explanations. Some were done on a whim, others for love and still others as a tribute to a loved one or even a beloved pet. All were emotional and revealing – and a few were scary as people described giving themselves the tattoo!

An interesting look at pop culture and a revealing book for anyone who has ever wondered ‘why?’.

Source: Review copy provided by Bloomsbury.
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Leave a Comment
  1. Suko / Oct 7 2014 12:58 pm

    Leslie, great review! I see more and more tattoos on “ordinary” people! I’ll bet this is interesting, as every tattoo has a story behind it. 🙂


  2. Mary / Oct 7 2014 1:28 pm

    Although I’m not interested in ever getting a tattoo I have several relatives (most are younger) who have at least one. This sounds like an interesting book.


  3. sagustocox / Oct 13 2014 7:50 am

    I wonder how many of those interviewed now regret their tattoo choice or getting one at all


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