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Vintage Tattoos: The Book of Old-School Skin Art Paperback – February 17, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“It seems like everyone and their mother has been inked. Carol Clerk’s new tome, Vintage Tattoos, The Book of Old-School Skin Art, tracks the evolution of old-school pin-up girl pieces…as well as classic floral, nautical, death memorials and heart designs.” ~Nylon Magazine

“We’ve read our fill about tattooed circus acts and indigenous people, but we’ll always make time for the scalawags who revolutionized tattoo art. The best chapters in Carol Clerk’s Vintage Tattoos: The Book of Old-School Skin Art detail the history of nautical and patriotic tattoos and their superstitions.” ~Inked Magazine

"The lavishly displayed wealth of brightly colored old-school flash is the heart of Vintage Tattoos, and the main reason you’ll find yourself flipping through it again and again. (Clerk's) ruminations on these designs and their cryptic meanings are enlightening." ~Playboy.com

"Vintage Tattoos
is as much a tat history for tat lovers as it is for anyone into pop culture and art. Gems of tattoo lore transport us to the traveling circuses of the turn of the century (which kick-started America’s tattoo fascination) and hidden backroom parlors which popped up once state governments started banning tattooing in the 1960s. It’s a history lesson worth its ink." ~ModernTonic.com

"Vintage Tattoos...is 256 pages of art and anecdotes. Salty stories of tattoo times when shotguns, not art school degrees, hung on the walls behind the parlor counter. When tattooists traveled with the circus, not metal bands. And when the art went underground because of tattoo bans." ~Needled.com

"...an entertaining and informative title that should be in every tattoo enthusiast's book collection." ~Skin Art Magazine

“Somehow quaint and sexy at once, this opus of the epidermis will stimulate smiles, winces, and perhaps more.” ~Passport Magazine




About the Author

Carol Clerk is a veteran music writer and author who has written for a number of underground newspapers and ‘zines like the weekly Melody Maker.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Universe (February 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789318245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789318244
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By N. Palazzo on October 4, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Vintage Tattoos is an impressive compilation of true Americana. Exploring ink life from the carnival to the navy and throughout a century of beauty, icons, and curiosity, Carol Clerk brings an unbiased voyage of truly personal art and obsession.
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There is no shortage of tattoo books coming out these days.I liked this one because it dealt with old school flash which is my preference.A lot of interesting information and well illustrated.Quite a bit on George Burchett and his work which I found especially good.
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This is a great book. It's that simple. If you're at all interested in classic or vintage tattoos then let this be your first book on the subject, or if you have other tattoo topic books, then you need to add this to that collection.

I was interested in a book on old school or vintage tattoos. My main purpose was to learn a little bit more about Sailor Jerry Collins and his influences. I thought maybe there would be some other interesting tidbits of information on the history of what we now consider "vintage tattoos" and maybe some cool pictures - what I got was an amazing surprise.

There is so much fantastic and detailed information - none of it boring. The book takes you on an incredible journey through time, style, artists and even equipment.

Even if you don't know how to read, the pictures and old flash of these vintage tattoos are worth the price of admission ... ok, the price of the book, but you get the point.

Whether you're looking for tattoo ideas, a tattoo history lesson or want to have a unique perspective on vintage tattoos - this is a must add to your bookshelf.
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This is an ok book which does contain some impressive artwork. However, it contains of a lot of rather lousy artwork as well, and little of great interest in the text which is not found in almost every source on tattoo history. Greats like Sailor Jerry are mentioned but apparently the rights to their work could not be obtained, instead we have page after page of the amateurish scrawlings of carnies which are apparently validated simply by their age (they are 'vintage', what does that even mean anymore?). The book is oddly organized, but among its few virtues are the variety of examples it contains of classic subject matter such as hearts, roses etc. I would really only recommend this to a tattoo completist or an artist really looking to dig into the roots of classic tattoo art, as even the ugliest pieces in here could bear reinventing into something pretty great. The elements necessary to a really excellent looking style of old-school tattoo, however, are not as easy to find in this book as they should be.
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Ditto on the favorable reviews -- this gives a great history of influential artists and themes over the years, from early 1800's up through the 1950's. Focused mainly on American artists and old-school themes, but also includes a little on some of the great Brit, Nordic and Japanese artists as well. Nice balance of historic photos, flash and text, and well organized thematically. Very informative for those looking for a bit of background or researching their next ink.
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This book is awesome...plenty of "olde tyme" tattoo flash for reference. People talk about "old school" all the time and don't really know what they're talking about...this book is entirely compiled of the original old school style flash and not awkward modern reinterpretations of it.

The drawings contained in this book were created by self-taught untrained artists who only had a limited range of subject matter to emulate and execute. Many of the drawings may seem a bit rough and primitive but remember the art of tattoo has only recently been adopted by the fine arts community and this book represents the traditional artwork of tattooists in the early part of the twentieth century...in it's completely unadulterated form without the self consciousness of modern art. This book is a must for the serious collector or general enthusiast of classical European/American tattoo traditions.
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the cover looks awesome, but this book is full of crude doodlings. i thought it would have lots of old school flash- and it does have some but most is scary looking. some of the text is semi-interesting, but you don't buy this kind of book for the text. you buy this kind of book for the art work and flash- which is really bad IMO. 85% of the flash is crude, bland, boring, poorly drawn, or just in bad taste. to top it off, many of the pics are blurry. it's like they didn't even try to hide that they just did a google search for "old school tats" and pasted it in a book. i feel ripped off, what a waste of money.
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The artwork is great however, I found the accompanying stories to be uncouth and dull.
The stories were focused on the artists which, while they obviously played a huge role, they neglected to go into detail regarding the reasoning or meaning behind their styles.
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