Book Review: Vintage Tattoo Flash Volume 2, by Jonathan Shaw

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We tend to forget that tattooing has been around almost as long as man himself, sometimes as a rite of passage, as it still is today in some cultures, and sometimes as a religious symbol or just for decoration.

While tattoos have become popular in modern western society, Jonathan Shaw’s photographic collection of tattoos from the past century is an eye-opening reminder of an earlier time in the history of such artistry.

The short introduction by Joe Coleman looks at the place of tattooing in history, dating back before Jesus of Nazareth, and he explains that the author, Jonathan Shaw has long been “an avid collector of historical tattoo memorabilia, with a poetic penchant for the morbid, the arcane, and the exotic.”

Shaw’s own introduction discusses, amongst other topics, how and why tattooing has “turned into this very acceptable, mainstream, sort of boring thing. It’s become almost like a cliché nowadays, the tattoo.” He reminisces about the days when it was “still something edgy, underworld, kind of dangerous, mysterious, and strange” when “the average person would not come into much contact with tattooing.

Both written introductions are short, interesting and provide an excellent context for the remaining 100+ pages that are images presented without text, other than to credit and date each tattoo.

The selections are handpicked by Shaw from his own private collection, noting that this second volume is not the last in his new, ongoing series.

Regardless of whether tattooing is your thing or, like me, you’re ink-free, Vintage Tattoo Flash Volume 2 is an captivating art book. It’s refreshingly unique and provides a glimpse through time of the body art that was relevant in its day.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Rating out of 10:  8

Released by: powerHouse Books
Release Date: October 2017
RRP: US$65

The images below are supplied courtesy of powerHouse Books.

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Captivating

Regardless of whether tattooing is your thing or, like me, you’re ink-free, Vintage Tattoo Flash is an captivating art book. It’s refreshingly unique and provides a glimpse through time of the body art that was relevant in its day.

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About Author

Rod Lewis is Glam Adelaide’s Books & Literature Editor and has previously led the arts, film and television portfolios. He has been a professional Arts critic for more than 30 years. To get in touch, contact [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @StrtegicRetweet

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