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Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories,…
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Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Jeff Johnson

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12134144,893 (3.54)15
Member:bren
Title:Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink
Authors:Jeff Johnson
Info:Spiegel & Grau (2009), Hardcover, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:tattoos, biography

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Tattoo Machine by Jeff Johnson (2009)

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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Fascinating book about a world I've never experienced and am not likely to. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
the writing is quite compelling and funny. the stories go from very grotesque to extremely comedic, laughing out loud kind of stuff. it seems like a very truthful telling of the life of a street tattoo shop and -if it's not truthful- at the very least it's quite entertaining. two things related to the tattooing world i loved about this book: one, his musings on the style known as "traditional american" and it's resurgence. two, his questioning of the conservative ways in which information is kept hidden among tattooers (a situation that is slowly changing). fun to read. ( )
  eeio | Nov 5, 2012 |
A goal of mine is to eventually get a tattoo, which would be my first one.

Jeff Johnson's "memoir" of his life at his co-owned tattoo shop is a wonderful reading of the "behind the scenes" of a tattoo shop.

Jeff Johnson has a mixture of his life at the shop, his home life and what he thinks of as the future of tattooing.

A quick and interesting read for anyone, not just ones who are interested in tattoos. ( )
  miamismartgirl09 | Jun 27, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Jeff Johnson's Tattoo Machine is part memoir, part cautionary tale for those wanting their first tattoo, and part breast-beating brag. It reads very fast, and each chapter is an essay on a particular aspect of the tattoo industry. Johnson does a good job of holding the reader's interest, but in the end it feels too light and too repetitive. I'd recommend it to those who enjoyed the reality shows "Miami Ink" and "L.A. Ink," as it goes more in depth and is more revealing of the sex and drugs involved in the business, which can't be shown on television. ( )
  redpersephone | Jun 14, 2010 |
Tattoo artist Johnson tells stories and anecdotes from his almost 20 years in the business. Some give interesting looks behind the scenes of a tattoo shop; some are gross; some funny. Danger, practical jokes, and lots of drugs and drinking feature prominently in the day-to-day life in a tattoo shop. It becomes a little repetitive, and could have used more editing. ( )
  alexann | Jan 1, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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For all the swamp panthers drawing late tonight. Dream hard.
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From the outside at 9:00 AM the tattoo shop always reminds me of a fun-house curio shack lifted out of an old Eastern European circus.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385530528, Hardcover)

Katherine Dunn Reviews Tattoo Machine

Katherine Dunn is the author of three novels, Attic, Truck, and Geek Love, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Read her guest review of Jeff Johnson's Tattoo Machine:

The topic is prickly, but Tattoo Machine is a charmer. Jeff Johnson is a sharp-eyed master tattoo artist, and an extraordinary writer. His own remarkable story of up-from-under redemption weaves through this engaging, gritty, and meticulous examination of the shadowed art of personal symbolism. As co-owner and manager of the famed Sea Tramp Tattoo shop in Portland, Oregon, Johnson has 18 years of hard-won insider knowledge. He presents that expertise with lyrical prose, savage humor, and enormous compassion. In the process he documents a seismic shift in cultural attitudes.

Thirty years ago, when I first started looking at tattoos in a serious way, skin art was commonly associated with criminals and drunken sailors. Cops assumed any woman with a tattoo was a prostitute. There were artists and mystics who flaunted the outlaw aura of their tattoos. But there was also a secret world in which engineers, business tycoons and surgeons hid elaborate tattoos beneath their suits and scrubs. A prim, strict trauma nurse of my acquaintance took years to complete the storm of Japanese plum blossoms that whirled around her torso. Only her closest friends knew what she considered her true identity.

Now, that secret world has exploded into the light. More than half the working adults in the United States casually sport at least one tattoo. Johnson gives us not just the why but the how of this transfiguration. He provides an entertaining dictionary of tattoo lingo, and a primer on what to look for and what to avoid in shopping for a tattoo. He explains what’s going on in the needle, the mind of the artist, the skin of the tattooed, and the back room, basement and latrines of the tattoo shop. He tracks the rapid evolution of the art and the fierce rivalry of different schools of design and technique. And he does all this with vivid characters, mesmerizing human tales-within-tales, and plenty of scabrous shenanigans. Tattoo Machine is informative, intelligent, and beautifully written. Marked or un-marked, the reader comes away with wiser, more generous eyes.—Katherine Dunn

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A behind-the-scenes tour of the fabled tattoo industry on the arm of a swashbuckling insider and natural-born storyteller.

(summary from another edition)

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