Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Ink and Books

July 20th, 2009 by

For some reason, tattoo artists often seem to be involved with numerous projects in addition to their lives as tattoo artists.  Some are in bands, some are on TV, some design baby clothes, some design plates, some paint…it almost seems that if you can think of another artistic pursuit, chances are there is a tattoo artist somewhere doing it.

Jeff Johnson is the perfect example.  Part owner of Portland, Oregon’s oldest tattoo shop, The Sea Tramp Tattoo Co (I’d include the link, but the site is under construction), Johnson is also the author of the novel “Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink“.

The 39-year-old artist stumbled upon his ability to write somewhat accidentally, when a broken wrist prevented him from tattooing.  He began writing science fiction stories, which later blossomed into a genuine passion for writing.  Though “Tattoo Machine” is not science fiction, it does tell the story of something that is just as equally imbued in the unknown for many people: the daily life of a tattoo artist.

Says Johnson:

“It was easy to write in one particular way, I’ve told these stories before. After 18 years, I’ve seen some stuff.”

The novel is already getting some impressive praise, as well. Oscar nominated director and proud Portland native Gus Van Sant for example, professed his love for Tattoo Machine, while Publisher’s Weekly, one of the literary world’s most respected points of reference for reviews, said that:

“…Johnson’s stingingly profane prose, storytelling chops and offbeat sensibility definitely get under the reader’s skin.”

So what are you waiting for?  Summer is the perfect time to pick up a book, chill out in the sun and do some reading.  If you live in or around the Portland area, Johnson will be appearing at the legendary Powell’s City of Books on Thursday, July 23rd at 7:30pm to discuss his work.  If you can’t make it to that, you can catch him on August 4th at 7pm, when he stops by Broadway Books.

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