[Review] 100 Years of Tattoos by David McComb

David McComb is fiercely aware of the place and relevance of tattoo’s in contemporary culture; having been editor of notorious alternative culture magazine Bizarre, and previously contributing widely to the body art scene in a variety of prior publications.

David McComb is then perhaps uniquely positioned to be the architect behind 100 Years of Tattoos, a newly compiled, fascinating visual history that examines the trend as both an art form and defining cultural movement.

One that still intimidates as much as it inspires, and is enduringly subject to powerful connotations and associations – body art is a practice that both empowers and commemorates, as much as it can be about expressing your own personal identity, or an allegiance to an ideal.

Tattoos can provoke the extremes of human emotion – all the way from love and pride to bigotry, chauvinism and hatred.

Vibrant colour illustrations, examples of old and new ink, archival and studio photography come together to showcase both the history and meaning behind tattoo designs as they’ve been used and adopted by sailors, convicts, gang members, side-show acts and iconic celebrities who have contributed to introducing inked skin into the mainstream.

The gentry often got inked as souvenirs of their journeys to distant lands and as a way to showcase their experience of far-flung cultures at a time when foreign travel was uncommon and expensive.

As someone with a personal interest and passion about contemporary tattoo culture, discovering new details about the art-form’s history and modern day acceptance often emerges from conversations with tattooists – many of whom have attracted hundreds of thousands of followers across their social media feeds.

A complex and far reaching nuanced history, McComb explores every aspect of tattoo culture within this book.

McComb has crafted a visual history that comprehensively pieces together a journey towards global acceptance.

McComb has crafted an at times surprising, visual history that comprehensively pieces together their journey towards such global acceptance; from an art-form that first found popularity, not among sailors and convicts – as is so often thought – but among the upper classes of the 1800’s, when tattoo’s were exotic and rare, forward t0 the modern day where body art is popularised in celebrity culture.

100 Years of Tattoos is published by Laurence King and available to purchase from all good book stores. RRP £19.95.




Posted on Apr 25th, 16 by | Twitter: @lisahassell

Founder & director of Inkygoodness, Lisa is a published writer and arts journalist, focusing on creative business, graphic art and illustration and design education. Her words regularly appear in Computer Arts, Creative Bloq, Digital Arts and IdN.

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