Before I begin, you must know this: I am a cleanskin. Not only is my body devoid of ink, but until recently I had an aversion to tattoos.
Years ago when I was young, tattoos were for old sailors and bikies. No-one else thought much about them, and certainly not most women. But all that changed around ten years ago, and now tattoos are pretty much mainstream. Some days I feel almost naked when I look around at my workmates and the people on the streets at lunchtime.
So, what started my interest in tattoos? I was writing a character inspired by a woman I’d seen at the local hardware store. She was around fifty and rather rotund. With hair that was grey at the roots and an overlarge nose, she was not a pretty woman by anyone’s standard. But what made her stand out from the crowd were the tattoos over all the exposed parts of her body. On her arms were two complete sleeves. Her legs were likewise inked. The tattoos were bright and colourful, obviously recently done.
One question played on my mind. Why?
That was the genesis of my new novel, which I’m hoping will be out later in 2016.
To write convincingly about tattoos, I had to do some research. Not about to become a guinea pig for my craft, I began with a search of the internet. That’s when I stumbled on the traditional Japanese art of full body suit tattoos, using beautiful old designs that you often see as woodcuts. I was hooked.
Take a look at Beneath the Wave of Kanagawa shown above, a famous woodcut by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), whose work has become a standard tattoo style for water. Beautiful, isn’t it?
In Sydney there is a tattoo studio called Authentink, which specialises in the traditional style of Japanese tattoos. Do watch the footage. If you are a skeptic like me, this will blow your mind.
The Tattoo Collectors: Film & Fiction
If you are interested in tattoo collections and the preservation of skins, check out Life & 6 Months.