Saturday, 22 June 2013

Musical Ink By Jon Blacker Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Jon Blacker

Published By Schiffer Publishing Ltd.

Art, Photography, Music, Tattoo


Musical Ink is a portrait project from Toronto-based photographer Jon Blacker that spotlights 62 musicians and their tattoos. This exciting volume of imagery not only has something for every musical taste – featured artists range in genre from heavy metal to hip hop and opera – the tattoo styles include elaborate sleeves, creative one points, and traditional Japanese themes.

Each portrait is photographed in black and white using a special infrared camera, which allows the tattoos to truly stand out from the skin because while infrared light largely reflects off of skin, it is absorbed by the tattoo ink, creating a great deal of contrast between the almost glowing, ethereal appearance of the skin and the deep blacks and greys of the tattoos.

But Musical Ink goes more than skin deep and focuses on the personal meanings of the artists’ body art, be it a deep personal reflection or simply a great funny story. This outstanding collection of images, including artists like Dave Navarro, Chad Smith, and Sammy Hagar, is ideal for music lovers, tattoo aficionados and artists, and photographers.

Jon Blacker is a portrait and music photographer best known for his lightning-fast location and live concert work. He has been hiding behind the camera for more than 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his girlfriend, her son, and their neurotic cat.


While I don't have any tattoo's myself, I've always thought of them as an under rated art form because when somebody puts their heart and soul in to a tattoo or there's a good story behind it, I really can't think of something better to look at or hear about.

That said, I have seen some truly awful  tattoos on people regardless of if they're in a band or an actor or any other walk of life.

This book here offers some absolutely brilliant portraits of musicians showing off their tattoos as well as a short bit of writing on each one explaining why they got a certain piece of art work.  The musicians here range from heavy metal to hip hop and in between.  There are some truly beautiful photographs in this book and they combine with the stories of why certain bits of art were chosen by the people who have them.  In fact, I loved the little bits of writing. Some of the reasons behind the tattoos were very heart felt and really help to realise just why tattoos can be so important to a person.

I honestly can't recommend this book high enough, even if you aren't a fan of the musicians here the photographs along with the stories are really beautiful and well thought out. One of the main strengths of the book is that you can pick it up, turn to any page and have a look at a beautiful photograph or read a well thought out snippet about why that person has that particular tattoo.  Granted there are  a couple of stories that don't live up to the high standard of the others but it doesn't ruin the flow of the book though.

Highly recommended.

Presentation 4.5/5
Informative 4/5
Recommended 4/5
Overall 12.5/15

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