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9 Best Tattoo Books – For Inspiration, Guide and How-To’s

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Keen to learn all there is about tattooing? Whether you’re setting up your very first tattoo parlor, looking to enhance your existing tattooing skills, or needing design inspiration, possessing the right books will help you immensely along the way.

In this article, we have listed and reviewed 9 of the best tattoo books that will inspire you through the rich history, striking tattoo designs, and other useful information included in them.

By having as many of these books, as possible, in your tattoo library, you would have a rich resource of autobiographies of top artists, history of tattooing, education material to learn tattooing, and thousands of design ideas to get inspired by. 

So without further ado, let’s get right into the list.

At A Glance: Our Top Picks For The Best Tattoo Books

  1. Tattoo Basics: Basic Fundamentals of Modern Tattoo
  2. TATTOO. 1730s-1970s. Henk Schiffmacher’s Private Collection
  3. The Tattoo Textbook
  4. Tattoo Lettering Bible by Superior Tattoo
  5. Tattoo Coloring Book For Adults
  6. Vintage Tattoos: The Book of Old-School Body Art by Carol Clerk
  7. The World Atlas of Tattoo by Anna Felicity Friedman
  8. Tattoo Johnny: 3,000 Tattoo Designs
  9. Japanese Coloring Book by Japan Dream Publishing

Best Tattoo Books – For Inspiration, Guide and How-To’s

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Tattoo Basics: Basic Fundamentals of Modern Tattoo
  • Paperback : 240 pages
  • Language : English
  • Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
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TATTOO — 1730s-1970s — Henk Schiffmacher's Private Collection
  • Hardcover : 440 pages
  • Language : English
  • Item Weight : 13.52 pounds
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The Tattoo Textbook: Escape the Grind, Do What You Love, and Launch Your Kick-Ass Tattoo Career
  • Paperback : 237 pages
  • Language : English
  • Item Weight : 1.65 pounds
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Tattoo Lettering Bible by Superior Tattoo
  • Paperback : 128 pages
  • Language : English
  • Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
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Tattoo Coloring Book For Adults: A Coloring Book For Adult Relaxation With Beautiful Modern Tattoo Designs Such As Sugar Skulls, Guns, Roses and More! By Tattoo Coloring Press
  • Paperback : 109 pages
  • Language : English
  • Item Weight : 6.1 ounces
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Vintage Tattoos: The Book of Old-School Body Art by Carol Clerk
  • Paperback : 256 pages
  • Language : English
  • Item Weight : 1.5 pounds
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The World Atlas of Tattoo by Anna Felicity Friedman
  • Hardcover : 400 pages
  • Language : English
  • Item Weight : 3.9 pounds
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Tattoo Johnny: 3,000 Tattoo Designs
  • Paperback : 352 pages
  • Language : English
  • Item Weight : 1.65 pounds
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Japanese Coloring Book by Japan Dream Publishing
  • Paperback : 303 pages
  • Language : English
  • Item Weight : 1.65 pounds
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1. Tattoo Basics: Basic Fundamentals of Modern Tattoo by C. R. Jordan

Basic Fundamentals of Modern Tattoo

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This book equips you with the basic skills required for your apprenticeship. ‘Basic Fundamentals of Modern Tattoo’ is a 240-page book that is highly recommended for apprentices to help them learn how to construct a tattoo machine, make needle configurations, work with ink, and the tricks of keeping the process safe and sterile.

The book doesn’t necessarily make you a professional tattoo artist, yet it teaches you the basic foundation. You’ll also learn incredibly helpful tattoo tips, and you get exclusive access to the interactive website ‘Teach Me To Tattoo.’ That website has been created to supplement this book to take you on the path towards becoming a professional tattoo artist. 

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2. TATTOO — 1730s-1970s — Henk Schiffmacher’s Private Collection

TATTOO. 1730s-1970s. Henk Schiffmacher's Private Collection (English, French and German Edition)

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The author of this famous first edition with 10,000 numbered copies, is  ‘Henk Shiffmacher.’ Henk is based out of Amsterdam and is considered a living legend in the tattoo world. Through this exhaustive 440-page book weighing a massive 5.5 kg’s, Henk vividly takes us through the 1730s to the 1970s, showing us the history of tattooing through his personal journey.

This oversized book showcases impressive artifacts and designs that tattoo lovers would love to get inspired by. As per the author himself, the book outlines the rich worldwide tattoo history, with stuff never seen before.

This book is conveniently divided into three important parts. There’s a part on history, a part on art, and the third part as a fascinating memoir. The book has over 700 images, portraying the wide scope and variety of tattooing from the world over.

Besides showing old-school European and North American tattoo art, the book also includes work of the Māori & South Pacific Islanders, and the Asian traditions. Also seen in the book are the author’s own original illustrations of his inimitable art style.

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3. The Tattoo Textbook

The Tattoo Textbook: Escape the Grind, Do What You Love, and Launch Your Kick-Ass Tattoo Career

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This instructional tattoo textbook promises to have unique content. If you’re looking to launch your career as a tattoo artist, reading this textbook will put you on a head start! Knowing the ins and outs and tactfully breaking into the industry is the best way to start making a living as a new entrant.

This professionally formulated, full-color book, teaches you everything, and all this information comes from the instructor — Shelly Dax — who herself is an experienced tattooer.

This 237-page book serves as the starter’s tattoo bible. It is useful to all levels of artists, including the student, apprentice, or the complete rookie. If you’ve been dreaming of becoming a tattoo artist most safely and conveniently, then this book is for you!  Learning is made easy through high-quality photos, extensive examples, and incredible graphics. 

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4. Tattoo Lettering Bible by Superior Tattoo

Tattoo Lettering Bible

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Whether you’re a newbie tattoo artist or a professional with your own tattoo studio, this book serves as a crucial resource for your reference collection.

There are 128 pages in this book, organized almost in encyclopedically referenced style. This is the best tattoo book when it comes to having a complete and ready collection of reference lettering styles.

The is the latest book in the “Superior Tattoo Bible” series. The motive behind producing this book is to offer a single resource to meet the exponential growth in popularity of tattoo designs with letters and banners.

This book is truly the bible of tattoo lettering. You won’t have to flip through several smaller editions looking for the perfect font. It’s finally all in one place. 

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5. Tattoo Coloring Book For Adults

Tattoo Coloring Book For Adults: A Coloring Book For Adult Relaxation With Beautiful Modern Tattoo Designs Such As Sugar Skulls, Guns, Roses and More!

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This book has stunning tattoo designs waiting to be colored in by you. Tattoo lovers would love to destress by letting their creativity run wild as they color the 30 original artist designs.

The book is gorgeous — having high-resolution graphics of designs such as Sugar Skulls, Guns, Roses, and More. What further sets it apart from other coloring books for adults is that the other side of each design illustration is plain.

This book is a lot of fun. It’s a great way to be creative and relax at the same time. Priced just under 10 bucks, this book is the perfect gifting idea to give to other tattoo lovers or just about anyone who loves to color. You could even decorate your wall with these designs. Who knows, soon you’ll get enough practice and inspiration to create similar compelling tattoo designs for your clients. There’s no better way to unwind and perfect your coloring techniques at the same time!

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6. Vintage Tattoos: The Book of Old-School Body Art by Carol Clerk

Vintage Tattoos: The Book of Old-School Skin Art

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Off late, there has been a revival in fascination towards the bawdy vintage tattoo. Old schoolers would be intrigued by this book. In fact, the new generation and many others across the globe are into vintage tattoo designs more than ever. 

This is an extensive 256-page book that illustrates examples of the traditional tattoo designs restructured with modern touches. Inside, you’ll find a notable coverage of patriotic, nautical, and superstitious tattoos that will keep you glued and inspired.

While you turn the pages,  look forward to anecdotes and distinctive body art by renowned artists like Don Ed Hardy, Sailor Jerry Collins, Bert Grimm, and Pinky Yun, among others.

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7. The World Atlas of Tattoo by Anna Felicity Friedman

The World Atlas of Tattoo

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‘The World Atlas Of Tattoo’ lavishly illustrates the world’s greatest tattoos. The vast array of tattoos showcased gives the reader incredible insights into the styles of global tattoo practitioners from ancient times to the modern era.

This book takes you on a systematic journey of how technology and innovation shaped changes in tattoo designs over time. Works of 100 artists are illustrated, showcasing their transition from handmade to machine-made tattoo art.

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8. Tattoo Johnny: 3,000 Tattoo Designs

Tattoo Johnny: 3,000 Tattoo Designs

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Tattoo Johnny is a 352-page rich resource with more than 1,000 tattoo design examples of all styles. This book caters to just about anybody who’s looking to own the perfect tattoo on their body. All styles showcased in this book are from the world’s leading tattoo artists. You’ll find ample examples of flowers, angels, zodiac signs, stars, pin-ups, religious/spiritual images, devils, skulls, pirates, and much more.

The in-depth collection shown in the book is selectively narrowed down from the world’s leading website on tattoos. This book is very helpful in making the design selection process easier, no matter how many tattoos you’ve already gotten yourself inked with. 

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9. Japanese Coloring Book by Japan Dream Publishing

Japanese Coloring Book: Over 300 Coloring Pages for Adults & Teens with Japan Lovers Themes Such As Dragons, Castle, Koi Carp Fish Tattoo Designs and More!

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This coloring book is highly inspirational, especially if you love Japanese tattoo styles. It’s the best way to relax and enjoy yourself through a creative process. The best part is, the designs are suitable for all age groups. So go ahead, gift this wonderful Japan art color book to your child, or anyone else in your life.

There are over 300 pages of inspirational Japanese designs in this coloring book. Those are enough pages to make this book well worth the price. The pictures are calming and simply beautiful. The reverse side of each illustration is blank so that there’s no bleed-through. You can feel free to color with color pencils, markers, or any other tools, the blank side makes this a versatile book.

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Conclusion

Foremost, the above books are meant to assist you in achieving your envisioned goals as a tattoo artist. The books aim to inspire you, teach you, and constantly guide you to reach the next level in your career. If you have the talent and the enthusiasm to learn, there is no reason you can’t be a world-famous tattooist yourself. 

On the other hand, if you’re keen to get more and more tattoos on your body, and have been running out of ideas, some of the above-listed books will help you decide. For both, the tattoo artist and the enthusiast, this list is not exhaustive. You’ll find many other books that showcase the tattoo culture, process, history, and works of artists. However, the tattoo books listed in this article are quite popular and highly recommended for your tattoo library. 

About Author

Jonathan Corby "Jonny" is a guy who is passionate about Tattooing and successfully running a Tattoo Studio in NY. Through my journey as a Tattoo Artist I have made unforgettable memories. This irrational poetry and sense of freedom of art on skin has given a blissfull experience to my life. Each Tattoo has a story behind it; Lets share one!