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Literature & Art – Combined

These words may bring visions of museums and libraries to mind,
but that is not where I’m headed. Not this time.

In the summer of 2003, Shelly Jackson put out a call for people to be part of a 2095-word story published exclusively in tattoos, one word at a time, on the skin of volunteers.
The first tattooed word (SKIN, the story’s title) is on Jackson’s own wrist and subsequent words are slowly being issued in story order, based upon applications Jackson feels speak to her.

I’ve become obsessed with this project.
The story is a closely guarded secret and the volunteers are able to read it only after they’ve been inked. If she has her way, the complete text of SKIN will never be made publicly available, in print or online.
Once a chosen person has gone through the forms, contracts, non-disclosures, etc. & gets their ink, from that point on, they are referred to as ‘Words’. Participants will receive a signed and dated certificate confirming their participation in the work and verifying the authenticity of their word.
Tens of thousands of applicants for a 2095 word story makes me think that my chances of being accepted into the project are pretty slim, but, this project is… alive, for lack of a better term. And, as life is apt to do… it ends. The story may never be fully realised, as it seems possible that before the last word has been “born” one of the others may have died. The author is quite aware that many of her words could outlive her. But this seems to be part of her grand design, an integral part of her artistic vision: “As words die the story will change; when the last word dies the story will also have died.”
A side note on the death of her ‘words’ – “The author will make every effort to attend the funerals of her words.”
* Further information available here -

That is one version of combining art & literature.
The art becoming the literature.
And, although that is what inspired this post, I’d like to talk about different types of literary tattoos. There are a gazillion examples of this on the web.
Some beautiful, some horrendous, some inspiring, some fun…

Paying homage to a favorite author…

Yes it is real and yes it did hurt along my pinky right there. I’ve had numerous people stop me and ask what is on the side of my hand and when I show them I always get a laugh. I got it because I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes and this is his original Corn Pipe that he used to smoke. I also wanted to have it somewhere to make it completely original. I can honestly claim FIRST! My artists name was Scott Fearin of Delta 9 Tattoo here in Indianapolis, IN. #PipeTattoo

Or, a certain book that changed your life..
The Library of Congress call number for J.D. Salinger

Some people choose poetry…

They may cause others to stare… But, you know why they’re there!
(I’m reluctantly adding pics of my vampire bite tattoo here, because I hate how it turned out. My love of vampire lit started at a young age, and my obsession took over with Anita Blake. Sadly, it has become my most hated piece. Especially when tweens approach me and say something moronic, like ‘Team Edward’. I hate those people.)
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I wish I could find an artist to fix these, without making them bigger & uglier. ::sigh::

Literary quotes have become a huge market.
This is a tattoo from Stephen King’s Bag of Bones, from the quote: “When an imaginative person gets into mental trouble, the line between seeming and being has a way of disappearing.” I have always liked this quote, and, since it is one of my besties favorite books… I chose this example…

And, this ‘Fear & Loathing… ‘ one just kicks ass…

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas tattoo.
Done by Ryan @ White Lion Custom Tattoo in Toowoomba, QLD, Australia

I could post hundreds of inspirational literary quotes…
“Question everything. Learn Something. Answer nothing.”
“One flew east, One flew west, One flew over the cuckoo’s nest.”
And, of course, one of the best…

The best tatts are ones with meaning. Something special, unique to the bearer. It could be something as simple as a date, or as elaborate as… something big and elaborate.
One of the coolest tatts I’ve seen lately is this –

Matt Shaw’s Happy Ever After ink, done at Dragstrip Tattoos (run by a nice woman called Laura) in Bitterne, by Alex.

Do you perceive it as the author’s skin being pulled back, to show the story within? OR, do you see it as the story bursting out of the author, too powerful to be contained? Either way… it speaks.
This one marks a special occasion, the authors first publication date –

I would love to see your ink! What, when where, why…
Post links in the comments.

Any authors wanting to duplicate Shelly Jackson’s project, I’m down!

One last thing… Grizz, how strange is this?! Unless I ran across a random picture of you while Googling… It’s bizarre!