Since the 1980s, tattooing has emerged anew in the United States as a widely appealing cultural, artistic, and social form. In Bodies of Inscription Margo DeMello explains how elite tattooists, magazine editors, and leaders of tattoo organizations have downplayed the working-class roots of tattooing in order to make it more palatable for middle-class consumption. She shows how a completely new set of meanings derived primarily from non-Western cultures has been created to give tattoos an exotic, primitive flavor.
Community publications, tattoo conventions, articles in popular magazines, and DeMello’s numerous interviews illustrate the interplay between class, culture, and history that orchestrated a shift from traditional Americana and biker tattoos to new forms using Celtic, tribal, and Japanese images. DeMello’s extensive interviews reveal the divergent yet overlapping communities formed by this class-based, American-style repackaging of the tattoo. After describing how the tattoo has moved from a mark of patriotism or rebellion to a symbol of exploration and status, the author returns to the predominantly middle-class movement that celebrates its skin art as spiritual, poetic, and self-empowering. Recognizing that the term “community” cannot capture the variations and class conflict that continue to thrive within the larger tattoo culture, DeMello finds in the discourse of tattooed people and their artists a new and particular sense of community and explores the unexpected relationship between this discourse and that of other social movements.
This ethnography of tattooing in America makes a substantive contribution to the history of tattooing in addition to relating how communities form around particular traditions and how the traditions themselves change with the introduction of new participants. Bodies of Inscription will have broad appeal and will be enjoyed by readers interested in cultural studies, American studies, sociology, popular culture, and body art.
|Publisher:||Duke University Press Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.38(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Margo DeMello is a nonprofit fundraiser. She has taught at San Francisco State University, Sacramento City College, and the University of California, Davis.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When reading Bodies of Inscription, the major themes are present with how the book is lined out… in chapters. Each chapter lays out different problems or situations that accrue to the everyday tattoo artist/person receiving tattoos. The book spans a wide range of topics including tattoo conventions to the everyday life as a tattoo artist. The only thing that I liked was the pictures in the middle of the book to give me a visual to what their describing. The read was very dry and hard to follow for someone with no knowledge of the subject. I would recommend this to someone who has an interest in tattoos or maybe thinking about starting a business in tattoos. For the common man or someone who doesn’t not know the subject very well, I would suggest not reading this book. Because of these reasons I would have to give the book a two out of ten.
In the past 30 years, tattooing has become very popular in our culture. Bodies of Inscription is a very good book. it gives you a new insight to the world of tattoos. She takes us through the everyday world of a tattoo artist. She shows us the perspective and difficulties of tattoo artist. She even takes us through both amateur and pro tattoo artist.She shows both sides of societies opinions along with the history of tattoos and how they have transformed over the years which was very interesting to learn about. Some people who would like this book are people with tattoos or soon going to get a tattoo. Something I really like about this book is how informational it is on everything that goes into tattoos and the different styles. Someone should read this if they want to learn more about where tattoos originated from or what all goes into creating a tattoo. What I dislike about this book is that it is more about her experiences with the tattoo world but some stories about what made people want to get tattoos or why they wanted to be tattoo artists would've been very entertaining to read about.
A whole new look on the world of tattooing. That is what i have after reading Bodies of inscription by Margo DeMello. Throughout the book Margo gives us accounts of her experience with the tattooing world. She takes us through the daily lives of tattoo artist, both professional and more amateur. We see all the problems they must face, mostly from the fact that customers can and will be very difficult. Margo also takes us to the world of tattooing conventions where all the styles and social groups can come together and display their artwork. Lastly Margo gives the reader a very in-depth description of the history of tattooing that was very informative. overall Bodies of Inscription was a good book. I felt as though it was a bit dry but still easy to read. I did really enjoy the contrast she provided with almost everything that she wrote about. When talking about the customers she could write about how some were just great. They knew what they wanted and what was going to happen and they came out with great peaces of work. Then she could go right into the other side of the coin where people would come in with a terrible idea and argue with the tattooist non stop. The most interesting part of the book would have to be the portion on the tattooing community. This is where the readers can really get a good look into what it is that tattoos can really mean to people. It’s really interesting to see how some people think that tattoos are a sort of badge that brings all that have them into a family, and others think that that idea is the dumbest thing they’ve ever heard and that tattoo’s are just meant to be a peace of art, nothing more. Bodies of Inscription is not a book for everyone. It’s only going to be worth a read if you are truly interested in tattoos and what the world of tattoos really holds. it can be a bit dry and since it is a book about tattooing, something thats not dry at all i have a bit of a problem with that, so because of that i’d give it a 3
In the last 30 years, tattooing has become very popular in the United States in the cultural, artistic, and social form. In Bodies of Inscription Margo DeMello explains how elite tattooists, magazine editors, and leaders of tattoo organizations have downplayed the working-class roots of tattooing in order to make it more attractive for middle-class . She shows how a completely new set of meanings derived primarily from non-Western cultures has been created to give tattoos an exotic, primitive flavor. The major themes are explaining the importance of tattoos as an art form and how tattoo’s are now a highly acceptable expression for people of different socio economic backgrounds. The description how the tattoo has moved from a mark of rebellion to a symbol of exploration and status, the author goes back to the middle-class movement that celebrates its skin art as spiritual, poetic, and self-empowering. I really enjoyed the contrast between ‘bikers’/’scratchers’ and the ’artists’. On one hand you have the self-taught scratchers who set up ‘street shops’, and on the other you have the professionals who were trained in apprenticeships and art schools. The ‘biker’ attitude towards tattooing seems to be related to tattooing of the sixties when many cities banned tattooing outright. The ‘fine art’ tattooers’ attitude can be linked to various liberation movements of the seventies and beyond. One part of the book that got a little long was the deep history of tattooing. The history is interesting, no doubt, but this book went into unneeded detail. Anyone one who wants to know more about where this craft comes from and how it became what it is today should definitely read this book. However, if you are looking for a book with a lot of photos of good tattoos, I would look elsewhere. This book does have some pictures, but only a few. I would give this book an overall rating of 3 out of 5 stars. I felt the long description of the old history went on a little long. However, other aspects of this book were very interesting and engaging.
My thoughts and Ideas about Tattooing where challenged and put to the test when I opened this book. It doesnt tell you that you should view Tattooing as Ok or Not, But it does inform you about what the Artisits sees in a Tattoo's and what the customer see's and wants. While talking about Tattoos, I find it interesting that it goes into depth to show us the history and struggles of this culture. At parts it was slow and draged on. But if you are un-sure about Tattooing or love it, the author has done a great job capturing this Culture.