Book Review: Art By Tattooists

This is my second piece for Tattoosday UK, so far I love the idea of being able to share my thoughts and views with every reader! So here it is, Art by Tattooists, created by Jo Waterhouse and with a foreword provided by model Jesse Lee Dennin.

This book is by no means new. It first hit the shelves in 2009 but has been
a massive influence on me ever since. The concept is simple, take tattooists who make art on the skin all day, and transfer their art to other media. I  actually received this book as a gift on Christmas 2009 from my mum. She is a huge influence on me and her opinion genuinely matters.

There are artists galore in this book. English artists all the way across the spectrum to American artists. Content wise the book is in a fairly standard form in the sense that there is a section dedicated to each artist, a brief description of the artist and their life, and then a collection of their work. This for me is perfect- why over complicate a format?

The joy for me is the fact that some of the artists in the book live literally half an hour drive from my house , and that you could actually obtain a piece of their artwork, or even get a tattoo from them without having to catch a plane. I
am referring too are Mandie Barber, who tattoos out of True Love in  Kidderminster, and Chris Bourke who used to tattoo in Worcester before opening Spine Skateshop which closed recently after 10 years of service.

Mandie Barber’s art is based around traditional tattooing and gives a very good representation of her ability as not only a tattooist but also as an artist in general. Chris’s art is very interesting in the fact that he works very much in line work, which allow him to create lino prints, which believe me make for an amazing spectacle. Chris had previously done some work for Consolidated Skateboards designing decks for them, using the subject matter from these lino prints as inspiration. The subject matter being owls with lightning bolts coming out of their eyes, and birds, lots and lots of birds.

However, my favourite pieces of art in the book came from a man called Sumo, and a guy called Steven Whittenberger. Sadly Sumo is no longer with us, as many of you may know. Sumo was a hugely talented tattoo artist and from what I can tell enjoyed tattooing traditional subject matter, and his entries in the book are simply stunning. They are one of the reasons I really got into
traditional tattooing. Steven Whittenberger caught my eye because of his quirky eye for fairly simple subject material, taking a fairly gentlemanly picture, and turning it 180 degrees and creating a whole different feel.

This book is fairly cheap too buy, and is available from many good stockists [I bought mine in HMV and it was really cheap, so I’d suggest there! – Mel]. I suggest you go and grab yourself a copy. You will not be disappointed, I have had this book nigh on three years and still love it like the minute I opened it up!


Rich Jones spends his time getting great tattoos and learning Journalism and Media, which he’s going to ace a degree in, in September. When he isn’t having needles stuck in him or writing long words, he loves rugby and music.


[Header image source]

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