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Philly Tattoos get their own book in Tatted


The city of Philly has people who know what they like and what they want! Come summer, you see evidence of this- tattoos. A local publisher, photographer and tattoo artist came together to create a book on the tattoos culture in Philadelphia. Tatted Image

Recently, Philadelphia-based publisher GritCityInc debuted Tatted, to celebrate the tattoo culture in Philly. Those in attendance included, Tatted photographer, Philadelphia filmmaker and photojournalist Marianne Bernstein; Brian Jacobson, the president of GritCityInc. and the publisher of Tatted; and Troy Timple, the owner of Philadelphia Eddie’s 621 and Villain Arts as well as the famed tattoo artist featured in Tatted unveiled this amazing book and exhibit at their launch party.

In 160 pages, the reader is exclusively invited into one of the nation’s oldest tattoo communities through street-level perspective photo portraits and personal notes as well as candid interviews with some of the top tattoo artists in the world. The launch was held at the Pure Gold Gallery at The Piazza at Schmidt’s, with over 300 people in attendance.

Dozens of tattooed Philadelphians juxtaposed next to their photograph-and-note combinations featured in Tatted evoked the strong feelings of those with tattoos, and even those who aren’t inked. The content of Tatted was collected by Marianne in a one-year period and a three-block radius of Philadelphia’s colorful South Street and based on Tattoo Series 2007-2009, a larger body of work. The book includes interviews with "Philadelphia" Eddie Funk, Guy Aitchison, Shawn Barber, Troy Timpel, Jason Goldberg, Rachael Laratt, Brent Vann, Carla Hopkins, Magoshi, and tattoo historian Craig Bruns, among others.

Marianne and Brian have worked together on a few other projects and are a great artistic team with similar aesthetics. Marianne came up with the concept of a tattoo book just by looking out the window. “I live near South Street, and started noticing that more unique, personalized tattoos were on the rise. I began taking portraits. The book happened organically, thanks to Brian and his unique GritCity vision,” Marianne explains. “The notes added a lot to the series- I began thinking a lot about William Blake and his engravings in Songs of Innocence and Experience- where image and text are often at odds with one another, and almost create a new poetic entity. This is a very different type of tattoo book than most others out there. It's meant to be an art book for everyone to enjoy- whether you're tatted or not.” Tatted Image

Marianne says she’s an artist first and foremost, “I can be a tough critic of my own work- especially these kinds of portraits which ride the edge of being overly aesthetic. I often view my early commercial training has been both a blessing and a curse. I do feel however, that under the circumstances, interacting and photographing hundreds of strangers and having them write personal notes about themselves is something I’m proud of at this point. I honestly don’t know what possessed me beyond curiosity and a desire to connect with people in an open, honest way. I hope some of the portraits stand on their own as strong portraits. A strong portrait for me has to radiate a certain energy and embody both the light and dark parts of ourselves.”

“As a company composed of artists, GritCityInc. is committed to providing additional means for artists to share their work,” said GritCityInc. President Brian Jacobson. “The coupling of Marianne’s talented photography with tattoo art is meant for interpretation and conversation, which is everything our books represent.”

“Philadelphia Style tattoos are big and bold- solid lines with solid color. It is what they call ‘Traditional tattoos.’ I prefer and do a lot of Traditional styles mixed with Japanese. Both is structure and subject matter,” Tatted artist Troy Timple shares. “I enjoy doing this style, and doing very detailed realistic work. I prefer to work out the drawing ahead of time. Certain subject matter and flowing tattoos into larger scale sleeve work is done freehand, but it is better to draw and stencil before hand. I think the most exciting aspect of tattooing is having fun ideas coming in to work on- gives you a chance to push the envelope.”

“We had a great night- a lot of hard work went into this- beginning with Marianne and I’m about to call each other and discuss the images and notes and see how we could get them out there,” Brian said. Both publisher and photographer are extremely passionate about their tattoos and their city, so they made this happen. “Our hard work paid off. Our sponsors, Sailor Jerry Rum and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, and others made for a great night; DJ Frosty was spinning great music. I watched people’s expressions- they were laughing, shocked, intrigued by the images and messages. We had them high up on walls- so many images in such a great space.”

The exhibit will run until December 24 at the Pure Gold Gallery, Studio 57, The Piazza, Northern Liberties.

Tatted is available for $34.95 online, at the Pure Gold Gallery and select independent bookstores.

About The Publisher: GritCityInc.

Founded in 2008, GritCityInc. is an independent publisher dedicated to making smart and distinctive books on visual art and contemporary culture. Its books are a tangible expression of people and their stories, and a visual manifestation of the arts community’s creativity, skill and honest experience. GritCityInc. is also the publisher of the acclaimed Smoked. For more information, please visit www.gritcityinc.com. Stay tuned for GritCityInc.’s upcoming projects and latest books!

About Marianne Bernstein:

Marianne has been a photographer since she was 10 years old. She has worked commercially in NYC as a photographer in the 80’s and later in New Haven, CT eventually concentrating more on fine art and exhibiting her work in galleries across the US.

Contact me at engchik@comcast.net