Tattoos Are Cool Again
Or so it would seem, judging by a new book release from German publisher Gestalten. While ancient and widespread, until recently in the West, tattoos marked those bearing them as being somehow apart, as members of mysterious tribes with vaguely disturbing belief systems and practices. But we've now reached the point where your grandmother could show up at the family barbeque sporting a butterfly or a flower and barely an eyebrow would be raised. The act of being tattooed has become so banal that it's no more exotic than getting your ears pierced. And somehow that banality has sucked all the life out of a long and rich decorative art. Admittedly, we don't all want to look like the ominously tattooed inmates in Russian prisons (search on "russian prison tattoo"), but still.
However, all is not lost. Forever: The New Tattoo makes the claim that "beyond the mainstream, a new tattoo underground has developed." This is a scene that apparently draws on art, fashion and contemporary visual culture, as well as traditional tattoo art, to create a dense, powerful effect far from grandma's pastel butterfly. As well as great visuals, examples of which are shown below, the book includes portraits of noted tattoo artists and a preface by "heavily tattooed art historian Matt Lodder." Matt will be present at the book's release event in Berlin on September 22, which will include talks by several of the artists and a live tattooing event. Don't take your grandmother.