Black Tattoo Art: Modern Expressions of the Tribal


Edition Reuss recently released Black Tattoo Art: Modern Expressions of the Tribal, a photographic homage to a particular genre of skin art. The book is curated by Marisa Kakoulas (lawyer, writer, circus lady, and blogger.) Above and after the jump, Boing Boing's exclusive peek at some of the hundreds of striking, full-page images you'll find inside.

The 536-page hardcover includes work by tattoo artists from Borneo, Argentina, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Europe and North America. The book weighs nearly ten pounds, and the binding is stitched with silver embossing. It's fat, heavy, and gorgeous.

"There has never before been a book on this style of tattooing in English," Marisa told Boing Boing over email. "The style is called 'blackwork,' where the artists are limited to one color and so they have to stretch their imagination in terms of design elements to create original works, rather than having a palette of colors and shading techniques to chose from as in other styles of tattooing."

Some of the photos we selected to share on Boing Boing also include the use of a single additional color.

Black Tattoo Art examines how indigenous tattooing has evolved over the years, beginning with a history section, then each of the styles that originate in tribal arts.

Lots more photos from the book after the jump. NSFW-ish warning: one of them is a human hiney.

I've seen a lot of black tats on friends' bodies in my time, but the 'Art Brut' chapter was new to me. "Popularized in France and Belgium, this style takes street art and harmonizes those aesthetics with the body — a key element in tribal tattooing," explained Marisa. "It's a completely new tattoo style that has never been curated into any volume before until now."

Interviews in the book include Leo Zulueta, the "godfather of tribal tattooing," who popularized the NeoTribal tattoo movement. Another interesting profile in this book: Peter Schachner, who was imprisoned in Thailand in the early 1990s. There, he learned the hand-craft of Thai tattooing from fellow inmates during four years spent at Lard Yao prison.

The book also devotes an entire chapter to the use of stippling techniques, which resemble pointillism.

If you have tats like this, or know and love someone who does, I can think of no finer holiday gift. Except maybe more tats.

Amazon Link / Publisher's Link. Photographers include Sean Toussaint, Lars Krutak and Craig Burton (Images courtesy Edition Reuss)