Jennifer's Reviews > Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink

Tattoo Machine by Jeff Johnson
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's review
Jan 10, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: adult-books
Read in January, 2010

I can now say I know more about tattooing than I ever wanted to. Johnson's wandering personal manifesto about the philosophy and art of skin art is prosy, self-important and occasionally pretentious in tone. The man hasn't met an adjective that he doesn't like, and yet he still feels the need to pepper his writing with profanity, as if to assure readers of his street cred. That being said, he does tell some marvelous stories of irate customers, crazy employees, in-shop pranks and ink jobs gone terribly wrong. I was particularly struck by his story of tattooing a suspected serial killer, who was covered with women's names, dates, and social security numbers. There was also the woman with the flipper, the punk chick & her massive boyfriend who tried to rob him, and the homeless men who all got free tattoos of Bill Murray. He debunks myths (there is no such thing as a "vegan" tattoo parlor) and relates the proper way to care for a new tattoo, but the chapters where he rails against the homogenization of the tattoo industry verge toward the pedantic. For aficionados of the topic only. I was interested enough to finish it, but can't imagine it appealing to a wider audience.

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