The Tattoo Bible: Review and Interview with Alex Guest!
As you may be aware, The Tattoo Bible, by Alex Guest, was released to the general public today. The book, which is from the makers of Skin Deep magazine, does exactly what it says on the tin: inside is everything you need to know about getting a tattoo, going to a convention and brushing up on your tattoo history, among so many other things. I’ve cheekily had a copy here since Monday, so I’ve had a good chance to have a leaf through the pages- and also a chance to speak to Alex himself, so be sure to catch our interview below!
There is so much I want to let you all know about when it comes to this book, but I don’t want to give it all away. The book has such a warm and friendly tone to it, and is above all fun, which makes it appeal to pretty much everyone. The section on the history of tattooing was one of the best we’ve seen in a book like this- with the history being so vast, it’s easy to get it wrong, but Alex hits the nail on the head. I also loved the different schools of tattooing which were given a nod, along with some of the best artists associated with each one, and the run down of conventions, which you don’t normally see in tattoo books. Another thing you’ll rarely see if you look through the plethora of books in any tattoo geek’s library is information on laser surgery- of course, Alex has it covered! There is literally no stone left un- turned in the book. It’s a great read, and I’d recommend it to absolutely anyone, from the “tattoo guru” to the complete newcomer- there’s something for everyone in this.
Before you find out where to buy it, we managed to speak to Alex himself the book…
Tattoosday UK: Where did the book come about? Were you asked specifically to write it, or did you feel like this was something you really needed to do?
Aex (pictured below): Well, a bit of both, truth be told! I was commissioned to write The Tattoo Bible, but I thought that a comprehensive window to the world of tattooing that could appeal to newcomers and veterans would be a great addition to any collector’s library, and it was a project that had sat in the back of my mind for some time. I’ve reviewed a lot of books over the past couple of years that tackle different areas of tattooing (with varying degrees of success) but I’d never seen one that represented the entire spectrum of body art.
A: I’m so glad that you feel it carries appeal for newcomers and people with knowledge of tattooing because it was a balance I was very eager to strike. It took quite a few drafts to bring it to a point where I felt as though I could enjoy reading it as a veteran of sorts, and then to also find it accessible as I viewed it as though I was 18 again…before I lumbered myself with bad work that is currently being zapped with a laser!
TUK: The book is laid out in a very similar way to a magazine, and is very informal and friendly. Did you have any trouble making the book both friendly, yet still authoritative and knowledgeable when it comes to parts which may educate others?
A: With it being a bookazine (created by the fusion of a magazine and a book in the nuclear reactor we keep hidden in the basement), I hoped to retain the informal nature of Skin Deep and Tattoo Master and utilise plenty of images to illustrate the points I make without getting too text heavy. The tone of the editorial content was something I did pay attention to: I didn’t want to come across as either condescending or textbook – I’ve always learnt the most from the things and people that can entertain me as they teach. I just hope people enjoy the book and if The Tattoo Bible encourages tattoo virgins to be a little more creative with their choices, then I’ll be a happy man.
TUK: How did the experience of putting the book together compare with the writing you’re used to?
A: It was actually the most liberating writing experience I’ve had to date. I wouldn’t say I’m the font of all tattoo knowledge – far from it, given my peers in the industry – but having a good grounding and understanding of body art enabled me to loosen up and just…let it flow, for want of a better term! I’m sure you’ll agree that when you love to write, it becomes a compulsion and simply putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!) and cutting loose on a subject you’re enamoured with can yield work that you are truly proud of. In terms of actually putting The Tattoo Bible together, it was far more taxing than I ever imagined: in addition to writing it, I had to source all of the accompanying images too (woe is me, haha!). I’ve been an editor for just over two years now but this has undoubtedly been the most satisfying publication I’ve produced – it’s my opus!
TUK: If you could only publish one section out of the book, which would you choose? Is that choice because you think it’s important to the book, or just your personal favourite?
A: I’d have to say it’s the section that refers to getting tattooed. It was both the most challenging and the most enjoyable to write, and I believe it presents a rounded perspective that hasn’t really been seen in print before…or at least I haven’t seen it before!
TUK: Alex also really wanted to plug a book he loves himself, which unfortunately isn’t in print anymore- if you find a copy, it sounds to me like you should buy it!
A: My favourite tattoo-related publication has to be ‘Underway Is The Only Way’, written by Grime and Horitaka. I reviewed it for Skin Deep a couple of years ago and it blew me away. The authors know all of the tattoo artists that they interviewed for this on a personal and professional level, and it made the book utterly compelling, as though you are privy to secret meetings of the guild of master craftsmen. You’re reading the kind of dialogue that’s almost impossible to secure when you meet artists just a handful of times before interviewing them.
Before I go, I’d like to say thanks to you, Mel, for giving me this opportunity waffle about The Tattoo Bible and for running a great blog in the form of Tattoosday UK. Good luck in the convention awards!
TUK: What a sweetheart, haha- I’d like to also wish Alex good luck in the awards, and point out you can also vote for him for best tattoo journalist, so get to it, minions!