“Planet Ink”: A Global Look at Tattoos

In “Planet Ink,” artist and writer Dale Rio takes on the Herculean task of finding the top 20 tattoo artists in the world – yes, in the whole world – and profiling them. Rio visits tattooists in countries like Denmark, Japan, Samoa, Brazil, and Malaysia, all the while painting a vast picture of the current tattoo climate. 

Rio’s profiles highlight the dichotomy between East and West: whereas most tattooing in Western society “has evolved as a countercultural practice,” Eastern cultures in Samoa and Malaysia have upheld tattooing as a centuries-old societal norm.

Compelling artists include L.A.-based Bugs, who gained popularity specializing in the once cutting-edge Celtic style of tattooing, but traded black knots and spirals for a more color-saturated, cubist oeuvre. Readers learn about traditional Iban tribal tattoos from Borneo’s Eddie David, an artist that works extensively with soot and sugar cane. And the detail in Vancouver-based Hori Ryu’s work is breathtaking both close-up and far away – as shown in Rio’s own photographs, Ryu has perfected amphibian details like crisp scales and luminescent spots, and his Japanese suits are some of the most shining and immaculate we’ve ever seen.

All the artists featured in this coffee table book have done exceptional work, and the photographic evidence more than justifies Rio’s picks of top tattoo artists. Since we happen to love looking at pictures of tattoos, this book has our stamp of approval.

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