Black Tattoo Art 2

Added ink, artists and history in the second comprehensive volume of what many consider the "Bible of Blackwork Tattoos"

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In 2009 tattoo expert and enthusiast Marisa Kakoulas released “Black Tattoo Art: Modern Expressions of the Tribal,” an extensive catalog of traditionally inspired and executed tattoos that has become known to many as the “Bible of Blackwork Tattoos.” To expand on the subject, Kakoulas recently released the second volume under the same title. “Black Tattoo Art 2” now includes a new section on Celtic and Nordic tattooing and, most importantly, introduces a more extensive list of celebrated international tattoo artists.

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As this title and the previous volume convey, the 448-page tome is full of ink; each page turned reveals a new piece by over 75 top tattooers. And with five chapters—including Ornamental/Neotribal, Dotwork, Celtic/Nordic, Abstract/Artbrut and Traditional Revival—the book brims with a variety of styles derived from cultures stretching further back in time than written record. By compiling these historically significant styles with more contemporary ones like the malleable dot-work and often bizarre art brut, the book offers visual inspiration for a range of tastes.


In advance of each chapter, Kakoulas introduces images which correlate with a comprehensive outline of the styles’ inspirations and characteristics. These sections are also peppered with quotes from influential and pioneering artists, further adding to the book’s clout. Specifically on the newly added Celtic/Nordic chapter, it’s interesting that all contemporary works are based solely on historical writings, as no physical images—paintings, etchings, etc—have survived the test of time. Because of this, artists can only draw imagery from period-specific carvings, artifacts and other bits of text. This, in turn, creates a unique combination of historically referenced and contemporary-minded pieces.


To learn more about the author, her past and present projects and the artists included in “Black Tattoo Art 2” visit the Needles & Sins website. The book itself can be also purchased there at a reduced price of $150 or from Amazon for $190. See the slideshow for a closer look at the beautiful work within the dense book.

Photos by Graham Hiemstra