One part history book, one part art book, and one part fascinating memoir, this book is an overview of more than two centuries of tattoo history intermixed with an intimate look at the lives of tattoo artists, and the personal struggles and triumphs, occupational hazards, and artistic courage that have defined so much of this history.
For the last forty years, Henk Schiffmacher has poured his heart and soul into his collection, amassing tattoo drawings, designs, photographs, and artifacts from around the world. Each of the book’s five chapters features many never-before-seen highlights from this collection and includes lithographs, etchings, tattooing instruments, paintings, photographs, posters, shop signs, original drawings, and tattoo designs known in the business as flash, among them extremely rare vintage flash sheets from major players in early Western tattooing. The vastness and variety of tattooing around the world is chronicled in the book’s 700+ images, including the indigenous tattooing of the Māori and South Pacific islanders, the ancient traditions of Asia, and the origins of old-school Western tattooing in Europe and the United States. The book also features a dozen original illustrations by Schiffmacher in his inimitable style, as well as a personal introduction describing Schiffmacher’s own journey as both an artist and a collector that has shaped his view of the art’s journey from the underground to the mainstream.
Schiffmacher brings a fascinating perspective to tattoo history through his personal reflections and wild tales of adventure. In this book, we learn not only about the history of tattooing, but also about the adventures behind the making of one of the largest tattoo collections in the world, by a self-taught tattoo artist in love with the art and its innovators.