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Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink

by

Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink Cover

ISBN13: 9780385530521
ISBN10: 0385530528
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

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Staff Pick

A memoir like no other: entertaining, wise, heartbreaking, frightening, and, of course, hilariously bizarro. Johnson shares his stories with us, stirring them into the brilliant blood bath that is Tattoo Machine. I highly recommend this book.
Recommended by Juniper Winters, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"As a business guide, Tattoo Machine maintains a reasonable equilibrium between personal iconoclasm, the value of teamwork, and the motivations for success. " Gerry Donaghy, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A behind-the-scenes tour of the fabled tattoo industry on the arm of a swashbuckling insider and natural-born storyteller.

Jeff Johnson, a master tattoo artist and co-owner of the Sea Tramp Tattoo Company, has a blazing personality and a surefire management philosophy: Protect your people, make them feel safe enough to be brave, help them grow, and always learn from them. And for God's sake, pay attention to the toilets!

In this sharp, funny, and fascinating memoir, Johnson takes readers backstage at the Sea Tramp, Portland Oregon's oldest tattoo parlor, where art, drama, and commerce come together in highly entertaining theater. Founded by the legendary Bert Grimm, tattoo artist to Buffalo Bill and Bonnie and Clyde, it's an old-school street shop with a rich and colorful past.

Tattoo Machine reveals all the things that a TV show or a visit to your local establishment can't capture. There are the bloodbaths, the scams, the customers from hell. And then there are the friendships, the practical jokes, the surprising acts of tenderness. At the center of it all is Jeff Johnson. Welcome to his world, where there are no do-overs, everything is written in permanent ink, and a picture lasts a lifetime.

Review:

"Tattoo parlors are showcases for the socially disreputable, the brazenly nonconformist and the indelibly creative, all on display in this colorful memoir. First-time author and veteran tattoo artist Johnson has a million tales of the tattoo demimonde, who come to his Sea Tramp in Portland, Ore., as well as tattoo shops around the country. Into his shop walk scamsters and freaks; a gangster whose gun-toting posse rattles Johnson into misspelling their boss's tat; a punk femme fatale who lures him into a trap; and a probable serial killer who has the names and Social Security numbers of his victims emblazoned on his skin. Ruggedly individualistic artists are part of the show, as is Johnson himself: 'I have no shoes and no driver's license and I've been smoking gooey Mexican heroin and snorting piles of coke off a switchblade for three days straight,' opens one tale. (In a grungy management primer, Johnson offers tips on customer service, employee relations and the importance of bathrooms so clean that 'some daisy-assed pantsuit could feel safe and secure' in them.) The book is little more than a collection of shaggy-dog stories, but Johnson's stingingly profane prose, storytelling chops and offbeat sensibility definitely get under the reader's skin. (July 14)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"An amazing firsthand account of all things you wondered about tattoo shops. I loved it." Gus Van Sant

Review:

"Tattoo Machine is meticulously observed, savagely funny, and deeply compassionate. It's a tale of up-from-under redemption through the shadowed art of personal symbolism. Jeff Johnson is a sharp-eyed master tattoo artist and an extraordinary writer." Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love

Synopsis:

A behind-the-scenes tour of the fabled tattoo industry on the arm of a swashbuckling insider and natural-born storyteller.

In the eighteen years hes been a tattoo artist, Jeff Johnson has worked on everyone from nervous young coeds who turn green at the sight of his needle (chudders) to cocky would-be artists with fancy design degrees and weak constitutions (night hogs). As the proprietor of the legendary Sea Tramp Tattoo Company, hes inked gangbangers, age-defying moms, and sociopaths; hes defused brawls, tended delicate egos, learned to spot and avoid bunnies, and made it his mission to perpetrate ingenious and awful practical jokes on his fellow Trojans. Hes a true swamp panther: He knows all the tricks of the trade and, more important, he knows how to keep his legendary shop in Portland, Oregon, from becoming the scene of a nightly bloodbath.

In Tattoo Machine, Johnson lifts the curtain on an art form that has undergone rebirth and illuminates a world where art, drama, and commerce come together in highly entertaining theater. A tattoo shop is no longer a den of social outcasts and degenerates–its a workshop where committed and schooled artists who paint on living canvases develop close bonds and bitter rivalries, where tattoo legends and innovators are equally revered, and where the potential for disaster lurks in every corner.

Discussing everything from his days as an apprentice to some of the greatest inkers in the trade to the incredibly vivid nightly spectacular over which he presides, Jeff Johnson has written a sometimes riotous, sometimes harrowing, and always riveting memoir about what it means to be on the front lines of a global art revolution.

About the Author

Jeff Johnson has been tattooing professionally for eighteen years and is the co-owner of The Sea Tramp Tattoo Company, Portland Oregon's oldest tattoo shop. This is his first book.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

michellerpower, October 17, 2009 (view all comments by michellerpower)
If Tony Bourdain had been a tattoo artist instead of a chef, this is the book he might have written. I've been tattooed all over Portland (including twice at Sea Tramp, though not by the author), and I all but devoured this book. I even learned a few things about tattooing (according to Jeff, ALL tattoo ink is vegan), and I've been a tattoo devotee for over 15 years. This book is a must-read for just about anyone who ever wanders off the beaten path - especially if they're wandering into a tattoo studio.
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(11 of 19 readers found this comment helpful)
Greasezerk, July 22, 2009 (view all comments by Greasezerk)
As if a cup of tattoo ink tipped over onto a blank book.

Mis-spelled names, California bumper stickers, adopted shop crazy dude mascots....

Much different than the air conditioned khaki and Tommy Bahama world that I spend my days at.

Although I do have half sleeves under my Tommy Bahama!

Great book!

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(16 of 26 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780385530521
Subtitle:
Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink
Author:
Johnson, Jeff
Publisher:
Spiegel & Grau
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Tattoo artists.
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Tattoo artists - United States
Subject:
Johnson, Jeff A.
Subject:
Tattoos, Mehndi, & Body Painting, Etc.
Subject:
Artists, Architects, Photographers
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20090714
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
7 ILLUSTRATIONS
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
8.54x5.74x.86 in. .89 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Tattooing
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Memoirs
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Crafts » Body Art
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Crafts » Collectible Editions

Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Spiegel & Grau - English 9780385530521 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

A memoir like no other: entertaining, wise, heartbreaking, frightening, and, of course, hilariously bizarro. Johnson shares his stories with us, stirring them into the brilliant blood bath that is Tattoo Machine. I highly recommend this book.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Tattoo parlors are showcases for the socially disreputable, the brazenly nonconformist and the indelibly creative, all on display in this colorful memoir. First-time author and veteran tattoo artist Johnson has a million tales of the tattoo demimonde, who come to his Sea Tramp in Portland, Ore., as well as tattoo shops around the country. Into his shop walk scamsters and freaks; a gangster whose gun-toting posse rattles Johnson into misspelling their boss's tat; a punk femme fatale who lures him into a trap; and a probable serial killer who has the names and Social Security numbers of his victims emblazoned on his skin. Ruggedly individualistic artists are part of the show, as is Johnson himself: 'I have no shoes and no driver's license and I've been smoking gooey Mexican heroin and snorting piles of coke off a switchblade for three days straight,' opens one tale. (In a grungy management primer, Johnson offers tips on customer service, employee relations and the importance of bathrooms so clean that 'some daisy-assed pantsuit could feel safe and secure' in them.) The book is little more than a collection of shaggy-dog stories, but Johnson's stingingly profane prose, storytelling chops and offbeat sensibility definitely get under the reader's skin. (July 14)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "As a business guide, Tattoo Machine maintains a reasonable equilibrium between personal iconoclasm, the value of teamwork, and the motivations for success. " (read the entire Powells.com review)
"Review" by , "An amazing firsthand account of all things you wondered about tattoo shops. I loved it."
"Review" by , "Tattoo Machine is meticulously observed, savagely funny, and deeply compassionate. It's a tale of up-from-under redemption through the shadowed art of personal symbolism. Jeff Johnson is a sharp-eyed master tattoo artist and an extraordinary writer."
"Synopsis" by , A behind-the-scenes tour of the fabled tattoo industry on the arm of a swashbuckling insider and natural-born storyteller.

In the eighteen years hes been a tattoo artist, Jeff Johnson has worked on everyone from nervous young coeds who turn green at the sight of his needle (chudders) to cocky would-be artists with fancy design degrees and weak constitutions (night hogs). As the proprietor of the legendary Sea Tramp Tattoo Company, hes inked gangbangers, age-defying moms, and sociopaths; hes defused brawls, tended delicate egos, learned to spot and avoid bunnies, and made it his mission to perpetrate ingenious and awful practical jokes on his fellow Trojans. Hes a true swamp panther: He knows all the tricks of the trade and, more important, he knows how to keep his legendary shop in Portland, Oregon, from becoming the scene of a nightly bloodbath.

In Tattoo Machine, Johnson lifts the curtain on an art form that has undergone rebirth and illuminates a world where art, drama, and commerce come together in highly entertaining theater. A tattoo shop is no longer a den of social outcasts and degenerates–its a workshop where committed and schooled artists who paint on living canvases develop close bonds and bitter rivalries, where tattoo legends and innovators are equally revered, and where the potential for disaster lurks in every corner.

Discussing everything from his days as an apprentice to some of the greatest inkers in the trade to the incredibly vivid nightly spectacular over which he presides, Jeff Johnson has written a sometimes riotous, sometimes harrowing, and always riveting memoir about what it means to be on the front lines of a global art revolution.

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