Looking to spruce up your knowledge of the tattoo game? Whether you want to find out about the history behind tattoos, get an-indepth look at certain tattoo styles, get some inspiration for your next ...

Tattoo Reading: Top 5 Books for Tattoo Education

Looking to spruce up your knowledge of the tattoo game? Whether you want to find out about the history behind tattoos, get an-indepth look at certain tattoo styles, get some inspiration for your next piece, or go back to the basics, we’ve found books that can help. These are some of the best books to seek out if you want to up the ante in your tattoo education and learn more about this ever-lasting artform.

1000 Tattoos by Burkhard Riemschneider and Henk Schiffmacher


1000 tattoos acts as a picture gallery in book form, exploring the history and evolution of tattoo designs and styles through the last century. It looks at tattoos from all over the world with pictures showcasing the actual artwork as a complete project. If you’re interested in what tattoos look like in different parts of the world over the course of the past 1000 years, and how they might compare with tattooing as you know it, check out this book published by Taschen.

Tattoo History by Steve Gilbert

Tattoo History Cover

Tattoo History definitely holds up to its title as it is, quite possibly, the most thoroughly researched book on the subject you can find. Through years of travel, interviews, and research, the authors painstakingly recount how tattooing started in different parts of the world, what kinds of designs they use and what they mean, and the cultural significance of tattooing in many different countries. Divided by geographical region, this book explores what tattoos look like in Ancient China, Japan, Polynesia, and much more. Tattoos are more than just aesthetically pleasing works of body art, and this is the go-to book that proves it.

Sailor Jerry Collins: American Tattoo Master by Jerry Collins and Donald Edward Hardy

Sailor Jerry Collins Book Cover

If you have any interest in the famous “Sailor Jerry” and his artistic creations then this book is for you. This autobiographical account of the creation and impact of this tattoo style from the man himself includes candid interviews, pictures, flash, and letters written by the Sailor Jerry to Ed Hardy. Read all about the revamp of tattoo culture in the 20th century by the man that made it happen. It not only provides an interesting read, it’s funny, intelligent, and informative in all the best ways.

Basic Fundamentals of Modern Tattoos by C.R. Jordan

Tattoo Basics Book Cover

Basic Fundamentals of Modern Tattoos is geared toward those who are new to the tattoo industry and looking to learn what it takes to become a tattoo artist. This book teaches you how to build a tattoo machine, the differences between needle configuration and when to use which type, and how to find an apprenticeship. Purchase of the book also qualifies you to an online resource designed around the book, so consider this more of a tattoo school cheat sheet than a book for entertainment. If you want to become a tattoo artist but aren’t sure where to start, this book is a great place to set things in motion.

Tattoo World by Michael Kaplan

Tattoo World

This book takes a closer look at what’s been happening in the tattoo world on a global scale, and looks at the evolution of the artform. Featuring work done by some of the most prominent and legendary tattoo artists worldwide, Tattoo World showcases a ton of different tattoo styles, artists and examples that are a must-see if you’re interested in the art of tattooing. It’s a great place to go if you’re on the hunt for inspiration on what to get for your next tattoo.

Tattoo education isn’t relegated to industry professionals, it’s for anyone and everyone who appreciates art in its various forms. These books can provide some great insight and knowledge about what has undoubtedly become the most popular form of art on the mainstream market, including a look into a wide variety of styles, designs, and history, to what you need to do to become a tattoo artist. If tattoos interest you in any way, we encourage you to check out these books.

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