Pen & Ink: Tattoos & the Stories Behind Them

Isaac Fitzgerald and Wendy MacNaughton. Bloomsbury, $25 (144p) ISBN 978-1-62040-490-4
Based on the popular Tumblr pen & ink, Fitzgerald (books editor at BuzzFeed) and illustrator MacNaughton (Lost Cat) bring their inspired collaboration to the page. The premise is simple: Fitzgerald and MacNaughton asked online readers to submit an image of their tattoo and its story. The book features 63 tattoos, with text that answers questions including: the reason for the tattoo, the individual’s name and profession. Drawn in a whimsical, tender style, MacNaughton’s portraits are captivating in their intimacy: the lower half of a hirsute man with his pants down, a skateboarding bear on his right thigh; a student peeling down her lower lip to expose the words “I forget” in black ink. The accompanying explanations, some of which are entertainingly straightforward (a fondness for pizza) and others that tell a darker story (a celebration of survival after a sexual assault), demonstrate resilience and imagination. Without judgment or regret, this emotionally raw collection, featuring an introduction by Cheryl Strayed, explores how we find permanence in an impermanent world. As MacNaughton says of her very first tattoo, “What the tattoo does prove is that Wendy, like most 19-year olds, used to take things very seriously, and that things change.” 4-color illus. throughout. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 05/19/2014
Release date: 10/07/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Discover what to read next