Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I’ll cut right to the chase: if you’re going to buy one tattoo book this spring, make sure it’s Tattooed by The Family Business, a feast for the eyes and a new standard by which all tattoo photography books should be judged.

Simply stated, this book is gorgeous, heavy on high-quality photography, focusing on the wonderful body art created by Mo Coppoletta and his crew of talented tattooists at The Family Business Tattoo Shop, a London-based establishment that has been producing breath-taking work since 2003.

If you're not familiar with Copoletta, or his studio, the book gives readers a peek inside the world of the Family Business. But aside from a one page foreword, and a couple pages of introduction, this lovely book is light on text, and heavy on images from photographers Fredi Marcarini and Chris Terry.

Image copyright: Fredi Marcarini and Chris Terry
Taken from Tattooed by the Family Business (Pavilion)

The two hundred plus pages are filled with lush images of life in the shop and, more importantly, the high quality work created by the artists. Divided up into five sections, titled "The Family," "The Business," "The Art," "The Work," and "The Patrons," this is not just about Coppoletta and his own work. The reader is also introduced to the whole family: Kanae, Mie Satou, Dominique Holmes, Diego Brandini, and Diego Azaldegui.

Some may draw comparisons to the books the American tattoo artist Kat Von D, which I have favorably reviewed in the past on this site. Tattooed by the Family Business is in a different league. It is as you would expect, Von D's books are busy and filled with words and images; whereas Coppoletta's book exudes a classiness to which other artists can only aspire.

In fact, an online review hardly does it justice. Photography dominates and, whereas the tattoo, or the process of tattooing is always at hand, the beauty of the book also lies in its images. Ultimately, I believe, it's what most serious artists want to see in a tattoo book. Although some may criticize that, in some of the photos, the details of the tattoos themselves are lost in the framing of the photograph, I would argue that these images are just as compelling as the close-ups, as one sees the way the tattoos are placed, and how they flow along the lines of the human form.


Image copyright: Fredi Marcarini and Chris Terry
Taken from Tattooed by the Family Business (Pavilion)

Image copyright: Fredi Marcarini and Chris Terry
Taken from Tattooed by the Family Business (Pavilion)

One of the neat features within this volume are several sketches on pages designed to resemble transparencies, where are laid over images of the tattoos themselves. The reader is treated to the full-page two-dimension image from which the artist drew his inspiration, and then can compare it to the end result.

Here on Tattoosday, where most of the tattoos we see are from New York-based artists, I have, in several years, only had the pleasure of encountering Coppoletta's work once, documented here. Therefore, getting to see a more expansive look at his work, as well as that of other artists in The Family Business, is a real pleasure.

Tattooed by the Family Business is a veritable feast. I keep returning to it, marveling at the craftsmanship and beauty of the tattoos. I highly recommend it to artists and aficionados alike. The book is a work of art in and of itself, and the fact that it so beautifully and simply celebrates the art makes it a must-read, a must-relish, and a must-have for every tattoo library.

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