Review: Pen & Ink

Sorry for the absence of a Friday post last week guys- I was waiting for the post to bring me the new book by Issac Fitzgerald and Wendy MacNaughton, called Pen & Ink. You may already know about Pen & Ink, as it started as a Tumblr page that I wrote about last Janurary. After a lot of success with that blog, the guys behind it now have published a book, which is in the same style. The idea is simple: they take regular folks with cool tattoos, ask them why they chose to get that particular design, and then illustrate a picture of it.

I’ve found that when you ask someone why they got their tattoo, you’re likely to receive one of two reactions: either someone will say ‘I just like tattoos, stupid’, or they’ll give you a massive story behind why they got something done. Personally, I prefer the people who say they got a tattoo just because they fucking wanted one, without a need for a massive story behind it. I don’t really want to wait until someone’s dog dies just so I can get a tattoo with meaning. For that reason, I think there will be people who love this book, and people who hate it. There are, however, some stories within the book that are as simple as ‘I got this pizza tattoo because I fucking love pizza’, which I really love. I think there should be as many of those people represented as there were people with super dramatic and meaningful stories.

Regardless, here is a bit of one story that I quite liked:

I share this tattoo with two other people. All three of us were in a bar when the idea hit… We started with a bear for the obvious reason: bears fucking rule. Then we thought, why not put the bear on a skateboard? Rocking a manual? With smoke coming off the tail that reads “party”? Well, if you do that, you might as well throw in a slice of pizza… one more hand to fill. Have the bear throw a shake while holding six-pack rings with only one brew left… don’t forget to throw a sick black flag tattoo on the bear’s bicep…

– Brady Rice

So yeah, some of these stories freakin’ rock.

One thing that I think would have made the book better would have been photos of the tattoos. Even if they were put in the back of the book as photos, it would have been cool. There are quite a few of these tattoos I would have really wanted to actually see a photo of, instead of someone’s drawing of it! I understand this isn’t really the idea behind the book, but I would have loved it. I think there’s something special about how tattoos look on a person, especially as they age- this is completely lost in this. Also, I think the artists of the tattoos should have been credited on the pages rather than in the back of the book- a lot of people probably miss these few pages, when actually this would have been great to see. There are already enough tattoo-related things that don’t credit the guys who are doing these tattoos and working hard to make sure each one looks awesome.

One of my favourite parts of this book is actually the last person featured in it. It’s a man called Craig Dalton, who is a cancer survivor. When someone receives radiation therapy, they need to tattoo three dots on your chest, to make sure they hit the same spot the next time you have a session. I think that tattoos like this are often overlooked, so it was a really nice addition.

This is a great book to kill some time with. With Christmas coming up, I’m sure you all know someone who would appreciate this on their coffee table, and I’d certainly recommend it. Don’t take it too seriously, and you’ll love it.

You can check out Pen & Ink, and buy the book, by clicking here.

Thanks very much to Jude for sending this book!

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