Advanced Tattoo Art

Mitchel, Doug. Advanced (Revised) Tattoo Art: How-to Secrets from the Masters. Stillwater, MN: Wolfgang Publications, 2013.

Originally published in 2006 to mediocre reviews on Amazon, this is Mitchel’s “take two” on Advanced Tattoo Art. I’m not sure this one is much better. The front covers boasts secrets such as how to find and size the art, proper skin prep, use of a stencil, blending colors, and more. However, the “manual” isn’t indexed so if you are interested in learning about only one of these techniques, it would be a scavenger hunt to find it. Take “proper skin prep” for example. I *think* I found the secret to proper skin prep on page 155 where the skin is wiped down with an unnamed sanitizing solution and shaved. No big secret there since every tattoo artist should sanitize the area and shave it clean. Since I am not a tattoo artist, I don’t know how informative this “how-to” really is. The photography is okay and the art displayed is alright. Nothing jumps out as being particularly fantastic or eye-catching. The best feature of the book is each bio on the artist. Giving them a piece of the spotlight was really clever. It gave them an opportunity to share their secret, why they got into tattooing in the first place.

Reason read: chosen as an early review book for librarything….


August ’12 was…

August was a little of this and a little of that. Some people will notice I have made some changes to the book challenge – some changes more noticeable than others. For starters, how I review. I now add a section of why I’m reading the book. For some reason I think it’s important to include that in the review. Next, how I read. I am now adding audio books into the mix. I am allowing myself to add an audio book in “trapped” situations when holding a book and keeping my eyes on the page might be an inconvenience (like flying) or endanger someone (like driving). I’m also making a effort to avoid wasting time on books I don’t care for (like Honore de Balzac). One last change: I am not as stringent about reading something within the month. If I want to start something a little early because it’s right in front of my face then so be it.
What else was August about? August was also the month I lost my dear Cassidy for a week. I spent many a night either in an insomniac state or sitting on the back porch, reading out loud in hopes the sound of my voice would draw my calico to me. The only thing it yielded was more books finished in the month of August. She finally came home one week later.
Anyway, enough of all that. I’ll cry if I continue. Onto the books:

I started the month by reading and rereading Tattoo Adventures of Robbie Big Balls by Robert Westphal. This was the first time I read and reviewed a book after meeting the author. I wanted to get it right. I also wanted to make sure I was an honest as possible about the situation. Everything about this review was unusual. For the challenge:

  • After You’ve Gone by Alice Adams ~ I read this in three days and learned a valuable lesson about Adams’s work: read it slowly and parse it out. Otherwise it becomes redundant.
  • Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin ~ I read this in ten days, tucking myself in a study carrell and reading for an hour everyday.
  • Fahrenheit 541 by Ray Bradbury ~ an audio book that only took me nine days to listen to.
  • Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum ~ read with Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I took both of these to Maine and had oodles of car-time to finish both.
  • We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich ~ this was probably my favorite nonfiction of the challenge. Rich’s Maine humor practically jumped off the page. I read this to Cassidy.
  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder ~ I read this in three days, again hiding myself away in a study carrell.
  • Ten Hours Until Dawn by Tougis ~ another audio book. I’m glad I listened to this one as opposed to reading it. Many reviewers called it “tedious” and I think by listening to it I avoided that perspective.
  • The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson ~ I read this in two days (something I think I thought I was going to get to in June).
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque ~ I read this in honor of World War I ending. I also read it in one night while waiting for Cassidy to come home.
  • The Lives of the Saints by Nancy Lemann ~ also read in one night. In honor of New Orleans and the month Hurricane Katrina rolled into town.
  • Kristin Lavransdatter: the Cross by Sigrid Undset ~ finally put down the Norwegian trilogy!

For the Early Review Program with LibraryThing:

  • The Most Memorable Games in New England Patriots History by Bernard Corbett and Jim Baker. This was supposed to be on my list a year ago. Better late than never.
  • Sex So Great She Can’t Get Enough by Barbara Keesling. This took me an inordinate amount of time to read. Guess I didn’t want to be seen in public with it.

Tattoo Adventures of Robbie Big Balls

Westphal, Robert. Tattoo Adventures of Robbie Big Balls (Hand Jobs, Blow Jobs, and Cigarettes). 48HrBooks, 2012.

DISCLAIMER: This book review is not for the Book Lust Challenge nor is it an Early Review for LibraryThing. I picked up Tattoo Adventures of Robbie Big Balls by Robert Westphal from a tattoo shop on Maui. Even though Kisa did get a tattoo from Westphal himself I did not receive compensation or a discount on my ink as a result of this review. A DVD comes with the book so I will include that in the review. Example of Westphal’s talent:
RobTreephoto 3_3

Second disclaimer: I should have titled this blog “Shame on Me.” Shame on me for still not knowing you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. You just can’t. Here’s the deal: I am always leery of self indulgent crap and to look at the cover of Tattoo Adventures you would think that’s what we’re dealing with. The outside of the book yields no proper publisher information whatsoever. Westphal’s name is nowhere to be found. It looks sort of snarky. More often than not all-about-me crap leads to larger piles of shit because the self professed writer/author thinks he’s gotten somewhere literary because the first dump he took was successful. In reality said crapper is an intelligent fuck who can articulate his thoughts on paper and group words together to form coherent sentences. I’ll be honest. My disdain for such excrement exists because I read such a waste of brain space last January and I haven’t recovered. Obviously. I fully expected Westphal’s book to be nothing more than a series of exaggerated sexual conquests only made possible by the sheer luck he is a tattoo artist. I predicted one completely unbelievable fuck story after another without an intelligent sentence in between. I was wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. Never, ever judge a book by its cover and shame on me for trying.

Now that I have that out of my system. I liked, no, loved Tattoo Adventures of Robbie Big Balls. It was the break from boring I was looking for. Westphal begins Tattoo Adventures by describing the five different types of customers he potentially could see while tattooing. If you are a customer of Maui Atomic Tattooing and if you are anything like me you will spend an inordinate amount of time trying to decide which type of customer Westphal has you pegged for. The rest of Tattoo Adventures is a series of seriously funny short stories delivering exactly what Westphal promised on his cover – his adventures in the world of tattooing and beyond. Think of Robert Westphal as that bartender-ish, incredibly patient therapist doling out life philosophies while dispensing pain punctuated with doses of hilarity. For example, the chapter called “The Tattoo and Its Meaning.” What would you do if you thought your new tattoo meant something completely different than the reality? Or, “Fucking Cops and Donuts.” If you were arrested for child molestation who would believe you if you professed your innocence? Trust me. It’s funny.
My advice? Forgive the quirky margins, ignore the less than professional cover, and disregard the lack on continuity. Take a huge bite of Tattoo Adventures of Robbie Big Balls and swallow it down. Gorge on Westphal’s stories with a strong appetite, a sense of humor, and an appetite for all things crazy. Life is too short not to. Chew with your mouth wide open and don’t be offended by the cohesiveness that isn’t there or the small typos that are. Have a bellyache laugh at the outrageous situations he has gotten himself into without even trying. It’s all in the interest of having a good time. As he says (p 7), “Let the weight of expectation go and enjoying the time you’re given.” So, the wording is a little clumsy but don’t tell me you don’t know what he means.

Author Fact: When I asked Westphal for an author fact he said, “I believe this life is all about having fun. Nothing in life is more important. Happy heart happy life.” Case in point, meet the author:
The author

Book Trivia: With the purchase of Tattoo Adventures of Robbie Big Balls comes a DVD, a companion to the book, if you will.

DVD review: I can only describe this DVD as schizophrenic and fucked up funny. Most of the time you will be laughing your ass off at the seriously silly shit people do (off roading in a golf cart was my favorite. As someone who grew up with more golf carts than not for transportation I can relate!), but other times you will cringe with fascination (I never knew you could tattoo that part of the body – ouch!), or be awestruck by the displays of beautiful tattoo artwork (Yvette’s was my favorite). There are some seriously talented mofos in this video. The music is all over the place but it matches the style of the visuals. Warning: adult…very adult. Not for the sissy prissy tightwads of the world.


Tattoo Machine

Johnson, Jeff. Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink. New York: Spiegel and Grau, 2009.

When I first requested this book it was one I felt inadequate to review. In the world of tattoos I have just one. One small, no bigger than a quarter, simple black and white outline of a sleeping cat. It’s not even in a dangerous place of pain. It’s snuggled on the fatty flesh of my hip. No tender skin of an ankle, inner arm or neck was sacrificed to the needle. I am largely unqualified to even begin to understand the culture of a tattoo, let alone the artist behind one. That being said, I wanted to request Tattoo Machine as a place to start. It’s if I’m saying to Jeff Johnson, “Okay. I’m game. Tell me your story and maybe I’ll learn something breathtaking in the process.” For the simple act of getting a tattoo was enough to take my breath away.

Johnson’s style of writing is very tell it like it is. He’s straightforward to the point of unflinching. Drugs, sex, rock and roll are frequent guests to the party but the guest of honor is all about getting and giving tattoos. Johnson reconfirms the stereotype that tattoo artists are seen as dangerous, on the edge kind of people. EMTs are wary of teaching them CPR. But, the unavoidable truth is that there is another side to tattoo artists. Artists such as Johnson can be well-read, intellectual, funny and yes, even sensitive. 

My only real complaint? Johnson includes an incredibly helpful lexicon of commonly used words and phrases in the world of tattooing. However, that dictionary comes after he has already written a chapter or two using the secret, somewhat strange language. The dictionary should come first.

ps~ Can I say I am disappointed I didn’t get any temporary tattoos with my advance proof? That would have been so cool!