Handpicked for you

We love tattoos

We also love looking for inspiration and learning, and we thought that having checked quite a few books now, we could share with you the ones that we found more useful or more interesting over the years-- the ones that collect images, those that explain the history of tattoos and even manuals and handbooks to get not just your ideas but also your hands going!

Hopefully you'll find here useful tips that will help you choose the right books for you!
Clicking on the images will take you straight to their Amazon page, where you can read their full description to make sure they're perfect for you.

Polynesian

Polynesia is a vast region comprising several different styles of tattooing, among which the most renown are Maori, Marquesan, Tahitian, Hawaiian and Samoan.
Since Polynesian designs are highly personal and don't have many generic symbols, there are very few books dedicated to collecting Polynesian designs while most of the books describe the elements and styles used in Polynesian tattooing to introduce their symbolism and purpose.
The two Handbooks published by TattooTribes go as far as teaching the symbols and how to use them to create personal designs.
Von den Steinen's books have been for decades the bible for Marquesan tattooing and even if among the three volumes only the first one is specifically dedicated to tattooing, any serious artist should read the three of them to get a more complete view and a better understanding of their purpose and symbology (the version available on Amazon is a French translation, like Hamani's Te Patutiki book).

Old school & vintage

These books include tattoos and flash images from artists who made the history of tattoo in the past century.
Perfect for old school tattoo lovers who are not looking for modern designs but love the retro look and feel of sailors tattoos in 5 bold colors (except for sailor Jerry's one which features black & white sketches from him).
Don't expect 3D or realistic designs (that's not what old school is about) but expect instead eagles, pinups, ships, lucky charms, knives and roses and all the classic themes.

Asian tattoos

We included here books related to tattoo traditions from East Asian countries like China and Japan, characterized by full-color designs featuring traditional themes (dragons, tigers, flowers, clouds, demons, samurais...).
The monography on Horizaku is an all-round photographic book with a descriptive and historical approach to the life and work of the Japanese master.

American Northwest coast

These are not actual tattoo books, but they are treaties that explain the rules and symbols behind the art of the West Coat tribes of North America, mainly Haida and Tlingit.
Since these designs have earned themself a respected place in tattooing, we include here some great books on the subject.

Manuals

Practical guides teaching specific styles or giving technical tips and info to anyone who wants to approach the art of permanent and temporary tattooing alike.

Historical

This section lists books that have an historical value, to be read for learning more about the history of tattoos.
They have a social value rather than being a collection of designs which are, in many cases, very far from modern general tastes.
In many cases they make a great coffe table reading, a passtime that is also interesting for those passionate about knowing more about the history of tattoos.

ANTHROPOLOGICAL
Tattoos through history.
Mainly text:
RUSSIAN CRIMINAL TATTOOS
NSFW warning
These photobooks include explicit nudity and full body shots:

Coffee table books

These are books that collect lots of different designs from lots of different styles.
Sometimes outdated or not top quality, they still represent a good read to relax and know more about the different styles and themes.

Religious

Tattoos directly related to religion, like pilgrims' tattoos.

Coloring books

Why not relaxing while looking for your next tattoo? These coloring books for adults will help you find ideas while coloring away your stress.


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