Ink: The Not-Just-Skin-Deep Guide to Getting a Tattoo

~by Terisa Green

The day I got my first tattoo, I found myself in a bookstore to calm my nerves while waiting for the bus. Ink: The Not-Just-Skin-Deep Guide to Getting a Tattoo by Terisa Green caught my eye while browsing the shelves--it's a slim but attractive volume (with a great cover design) packed with all sorts of wonderful tattoo information. I wasn't particularly planning on leaving with a book about getting a tattoo, but so it goes.

Green covers quite a bit of ground in Ink. The first chapter answers some of the very basic questions people have regarding tattoos: Is it real? Is it permanent? Does it hurt? and Is it safe? Following chapters look at choosing a design (including symbolism, placement, and the various types and categories of tattoos and styles), finding and choosing an artist and shop (including important questions to ask), and the relationship between tattoos, the body, and health. Other chapters deal with he life cycle of tattoos--the typical tattooing process, how a tattoo will change and age over time, how a tattoo is intentionally changed (including touch-ups, cover-ups, and removal)--and generally living with a tattoo (covering changing demographics, stereotypes, and potential employment difficulties). The text is also peppered with tattoo trivia, etiquette, lingo lessons, and sidebar essays. An appendix focusing on tattoos and the military provides an interesting discussion, though I'm not sure why it wasn't included in the main text since some of it was repeated. Green also provides a list of useful resources, websites, magazines, organizations, and books.

It's a small volume, but fairly well packed with all sorts of tattoo tidbits and trivia. Most of the information can be found online for free, but Ink brings it all together in one easily portable place. There is no index, but the book's layout is good enough that most information can be found readily. Plus, it's not that long of a book and it can be browsed easily. Like most books that include sidebars, some could have been better placed to avoid awkward breaks in the text. Very minimal citations are given--when and if they are given--which in my opinion is unfortunate. But then again, I really like footnotes. They give me a sense of security regarding the information begin given. The many black and white photos were a nice addition, although it would have been even better to have seen at least a few in full color.

Green's style and presentation tends to be conversational and chatty, making the book very accessible, but by the end it was starting to be a touch annoying. Since there was no "about the author" section I found myself wondering while reading who Green was, and what was her connection to tattoos and the tattoo industry (besides being an author on the subject, of course). Turns out this is revealed in the acknowledgments and in a single photograph of her back piece--in addition to being inked herself, she simply has an interest in tattoos, having previously written The Tattoo Encyclopedia: A Guide to Choosing Your Tattoo. While Ink may be most beneficial for a newcomer, even a tattoo veteran will find useful and interesting information within it's pages. Green is a strong proponent of safety and approaching getting a tattoo with intelligence, her adage is "Think before you ink" and with Ink she has provided a great resource with which to begin.

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