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Customizing the Body: The Art and Culture of Tattooing Paperback – March 19, 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for the original edition: "This is the most intelligent book available to date on the modern aspects of an increasingly popular form of body decoration." Kirkus Reviews "A fascinating and well-written study, one that finely sharpens the distinction between deviance and respectability." Choice "The book follows the historical, anthropological and social practices of body modification... This second edition contains a new introduction and an interesting chapter entirely dedicated to the changes which took place over the past ten years in the world of tattoo. A new gallery of images shows some wonderful examples of contemporary tattoos." Tattoo Life Reviewed on the blog Decorative Book Arts on February 21

From the Publisher

Describes the seven-year involvement of a sociologist in the world of tattoo culture --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Temple University Press; Revised edition (March 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592138888
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592138883
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #898,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Customizing the Body is an academic study of tattooing and the whole culture that surrounds it. For most people the best part of the book is its introduction, which provides an excellent mini-history of tattooing and how it found it's way into western society. The rest of the book covers modern tattoo culture -- Becoming tattooed, tattooing as a career, and other issues surrounding tattooing and tattooists. The study is complete on an academic and informative level, yet is also easy and impelling reading that should appeal to anyone with a serious and non-voyeuristic interest in tattooing -- this is not a picture book.
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I'm tattooed well beyond the socially acceptable norm and every so often I'll read these books analyzing the tattoo culture because I'm also cruising into more years than I really want to admit in the culture. I just like to see what people are saying basically. Anyhow I thought there were some limitations in the analysis or gaps or missing of nuances (not sure what the right word is). While overall I thought it was remarkably accurate I think it missed the mark at times or excluded some parts of realities of the culture. And I also think it kind of looks at this situation from a very metropolitan point of view. While some generalizations could be made to less metropolitan areas I sincerely feel that some more lines are blurred as it comes to artists and their feelings about their craft and their point of view as well as the people getting tattoos. It's not a straight forward this group is into high art. This group is into being part of a subculture. This group just wants a piece of flash off the wall. It's more complicated than that.
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Format: Paperback
I first read this book several years ago, and although its academic tone may be dry in spots for some readers, it's full of valuable information on tattooing. Sanders' studies show that many people getting their first tattoo have never even been in a studio before. A book like this can provide a lot of background on how the transactions works, how not to embarrass oneself and how to be an informed consumer. I started collecting several years after having read this book, and found the information I gleaned from it invaluable.
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I read a different book about the sociological study of tattoos, and this one is much better. It doesn't use as much technical jargon so everyone can understand what they're saying without having to go on a long tangent to explain it. The history he gives goes back to B.C. instead of the usual 1700s I've seen in other sources. I really liked that the author talked to both tattoo artists and tattoo enthusiast. Instead of just listing statistics, this author quoted people on their accounts. Many of the stories were about people's first tattoos, which were very interesting to read. The tattoo artists' positions were more prevalent than the tattoo enthusiasts'. They discussed how they got into the field and the problems they have. Some quotes are conversations the tattoo artists had with a customer in front of the author, while others are stories that they shared.

If you're thinking about getting a tattoo and don't have any, I would recommend this book. I think it would help ease anxiety by reading other people's accounts of their first time. Since a lot of the book is about the artists, they have tips to not be a problem customer. I would also recommend this book for research. It gives good insight on being tattooed, and a little on the tattoo subculture.
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