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Artist statement:

As a tattoo artist of nearly 16 years, this project was created to explore my personal tattoo lineage. This book represents my mentor, and his mentor, and his mentor, and so on. The choices made for this art book were intentional. The red and gold color palette pays tribute to the early roots of the tattooing sideshow workers in the traveling carnival and on the pike found in this lineage. The star shape of the book itself is a tribute to the “filler stars” traditional tattoos often have around them. The knowledge we gain comes not just from one source but from many sources we encounter in our lives, and the star shape also represents the offshoots of our expertise and the knowledge that came before us. The way the star book opens into a complete circle was no accident. Even though there is a chronological order there is no beginning, and there is no end. There were many before us. And there will be many after us as the cycle continues. History is often passed down via word of mouth from generation to generation, and the title, So I’ve Been Told, is a direct homage to this passing of history. Often, tattoo artists showcase only the tattoos they create, so I wanted this book to showcase the artists, putting a face to the names. The hand-pressed prints in the pockets behind the cutouts are a mirrored image of the cutouts themselves. This is intentional also because tattoo artists often take on tattooing as a significant part of their identity, unable to separate themselves from their craft. This is partly because we are obsessed with the art and partly because societal norms don’t often allow room for tattoo artists to be multifaceted individuals. I hope you will take the time to look up more information on any of these individuals, as they all have lived fascinating lives, and I am so proud to be a part of this line of decorated and respected tattoo artists. I want to give a special thanks to Rick Walters for telling me before he passed that I belong to his line of tattoo artists, which has inspired me to make this book.




John C. Hitt Library


Special Collections & University Archives