Book Review: Vintage Tattoos, by Carol Clerk

This weekend, while looking for a new book to read, I came across this really cool book about Vintage Tattoos I think you should all know about. I’m sure I’ve seen this book before, to be honest- but I saw it in HMV, where a lot of the time I ignore the tattoo-related books, because so many of them are kind of terrible. Instead of heading straight for the comic books, though, I picked this one up and took a look inside. I’m pretty glad I did. This is Vintage Tattoos, by Carol Clerk, which looks at not only the old traditional tattoos, but the tattooers who did them. Instead of a load of terribly drawn pictures from people who don’t tattoo, work from the likes of Bert Grimm, Milton Zeis, Paul Rogers and George Burchett is proudly displayed on every square inch possible.

First off, a quick Google search showed me there are a few different covers of this book. The picture above shows what seems to be the most popular cover. However, if you’re in the UK, it seems that this might be what you’re looking for (sorry for my terrible camera phone photos):

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The book has a whole range of information in it, from the brilliant stories of tattooers gone by, to the classic designs in vintage traditional tattooing, and pretty much everything in between. There’s actually a lot more in here that I first expected, which was great! To be totally honest, I thought this would be just tattoo flash inside- and while that’s great too, seeing this flash next to tales about the tattooers is even better.

This book is something I see as a history book, rather than any tattoo book. It’s pretty thorough as well. I’ve seen loads of things written in books and websites, and sometimes even magazines, that will only mention artists like Sailor Jerry and Ed Hardy, and conveniently forget about anyone who came before them. This book has in those people who more popular publications seem to have forgotten. In fact, since his work is so closely protected, Sailor Jerry only has a couple of pages in this, which is actually kind of cool, because of reasons just stated. To give you an idea, here are some other pictures:

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I honestly have no complaints about this book. Actually, I have one- Carol uses the words “ink” and “inked” a bit too much in this, instead of saying “tattoos” and “tattooed”, but that’s just a personal pet peeve of mine. Really, no one should ever call a tattoo “ink”.

I’d highly recommend this book, it’s really fantastic. If you live in the US, you can buy the book from Amazon here. In the UK, HMV have this book on sale for only a fiver right now, so get down there! For everyone else, a Google search should sort you out, but let me know if you’d like some help finding it.

Oh by the way, if you have your own tattoo book which you would like me to review, feel free to send it to me! Just get in touch through the “Contact” page.

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Vintage Tattoos, by Carol Clerk

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