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Bookworms with Ink

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Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008

I’m thinking of a Clive Barker line ... let me find the exact quote. “Every body is a book of blood. Wherever we’re opened, we’re red.” The one below is Oscar Wilde’s “every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future” from A Woman of No Importance.


Isn’t this just the best? It’s nicked from a LiveJournal blog I’ve steadily become addicted to over the past few months called Bookworms with Ink. The site invites readers to post photographs of their literary tattoos. Scrounge around a bit and you’ll find dedications to everyone Tolkien to Woody Allen to Vonnegut to Jonathan Safran Foer. It’s such a thrill to see certain words and pictures brought to life through tattoos. The site is moderated by LiveJournal user “Oh You Trendy Girl”, and has been up and running since early 2006. A museum of literary skin art—it’s an absolute treasure.


Check out this latest post from Tetaelzbieta:
“I’ve got almost enough money for my first tattoo, and the three things I love enough to put on my body are The Lord of the Rings, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safan Foer and East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I’m either getting Tolkien’s initials or the white tree of Gondor (in black ink) on my left wrist. I think I’m going to go with the word “timshel” on my right wrist for EoE, and I haven’t decided on the EII tattoo yet. Anyone have any Tolkien, JSF or Steinbeck tattoos? From any of their works, I’d love to see them! I’d also love some recommendations for fonts for the EoE tat. What types of fonts look best, etc. Thank you thank you!”


The enthusiasm! It’s infectious. Read just a selection of the daily chatterings here and you’ll spend the rest of the day plotting your lit-tat. Some of those on the site are divine; others, I’m not so sure about. It’s all very much to-each-his-own, and that’s very much the point. Of tattoos in general. It’s all about you, isn’t it? What’s meaningful to you, what generates your desired thoughts and reminiscences. It makes sense, then, that as important as a Vonnegut quote might be to me, a Tolkien quote is to Tetaelzbieta. It’s interesting, too, to note just how many of these literary tattoos are of images from children’s books, suggesting their importance to the tattoo-ees has been lifelong. One of my favourite literary tattoos is the work of my very own tattoo artist, Squirrel from Tattoo Nation in Echuca VIC. He won a National Best Back Award for this:


Today I’m loving this “Hip to be Square” quote from American Psycho:


How affecting, though, must these varied works be to these people? There’s a beautiful sleeve on the site, owned by a lady called “Scum Queen”, that features an illustration from Ray Bradbury’s short story, “The Scythe”. Now, this is not Peter Pan quote hidden away on the spine. This is a balls-out, massive half-sleeve. The work that’s gone into the thing, from design through to placement and actual inking is mind-blowing. And it’s on this tiny arm. You display that for life, that one story. What an advertisement— there’s got to be something fucking intense in a such a work for someone to want to be reminded of it every single day. I, for one, am going to hunt it down.


Other literary tattoos can be found at HubPages, and there’s a great essay here at The Believer which is worth a read, too, called “A Blank Human Canvas” by Margot Mifflin, author of Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo.


Unless otherwise noted, all pictures here were lifted from Bookworms with Ink

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