Best Books About Tattooing To Learn This Beautiful Craft

Trade schools and studios that offer apprenticeships are usually the first places people have in mind when thinking about learning this art. But the best books about tattooing can be a good companion too.

Those starting out in the scene can benefit from their pages upon pages of crucial knowledge, advice, and inspiration. Even the most experienced tattooists can learn something new with these books.

Below are amazing titles that we have curated for you. Their existence on your bookshelf can make remarkable progress in your career.

Best Books About Tattooing

1. Tattoo Basics – Best For Learning The Basics

Every aspiring artist must start somewhere. And there is no better place to get a firm grasp of this art and career than Charles Jordan’s Tattoo Basics.

This book doesn’t claim to be the bible of tattoos. But it sheds light on very fundamental mechanisms and equipment you have to master beyond your apprenticeship.

This is a dense book, yet it is very practical. Beginners should not have any trouble following lessons laid out in this book, which uses the classic textbook format.

From sterilization methods to tattooing machines, Charles Jordan paints a detailed picture of how tattooing works. After 240 pages, you should know your way around a studio.

These skills include how to assemble a machine, configure needles, make use of ink, and troubleshoot problems. The author also includes several tips and tricks to keep the whole process sterile and safe.

This well-written book won’t propel you to be a professional artist right away. Still, it offers a solid foundation to make that career possible.

Get this if:

  • You are a beginner.
  • You want to know how machines and equipment work.
  • You want to learn basic equipment and sterilization.

Don’t get this if:

  • You have done an apprenticeship before.
  • You need to learn the steps of making a tattoo.
  • You want to check out designs and patterns.

2. Drawing & Designing Tattoo Art – Best For Learning The Workflow

Fip Buchanan has been in the industry for several decades. And his book, Drawing & Designing Tattoo Art, can give newcomers a closer look at how an artist works on a daily basis.

Unlike Tattoo Basics, this title revolves around common demos and tutorials. Even an experienced artist can learn something about the creative process of Fip Buchanan – a respected figure in the scene.

They cover subjects like hearts and dragons, showing how the author actually deals with them and comes up with his design. Drawing & Designing Tattoo Art nicely leads the reader through each step, from consultation to finalizing the concept.

It can show you what Fip Buchanan takes into consideration during the whole process. From color schemes to the best locations, this book has the best practical information to build your own workflow.

Get this if:

  • You want to practice.
  • You are curious about knowing a veteran crafts his artworks.
  • You need detailed step-by-step tutorials.

Don’t get this if you:

  • You don’t know anything about tattoos.
  • You want to own a library of designs and flash arts.

3. Tattoo Johnny: 3,000 Tattoo Designs – Best Collection Of Artworks is a major website in the community, drawing millions of visitors each month. The success prompts the author to publish their catalog in the form of a book.

It covers an extensive range of design subjects, and more importantly, there is a variety of tattooing styles represented too. Most other books introduce just one or two artistic approaches. If you want to gather as many styles as possible, you will have to spend a lot of money on several catalogs.

But Tattoo Johnny and its more than 300 pages of colorful designs are a one-stop place for you. From hyper-cartoon fairies to photo-realistic depictions, it can be an endless source of inspiration for your ideas.

Get this if:

  • You want to check out a broad collection of artwork.
  • You’d like to explore many tattooing styles.
  • You need an inspirational source to create your own tattoos.

Don’t get this if:

  • You need to learn techniques.
  • You prefer step-to-step tutorials.

4. The Tattoo Textbook – Best Title About Starting A Career

Other books are most concerned about tattooing techniques and designs. But if you want to make a living, knowledge about running a business is a requirement too.

The Tattoo Textbook will give a great overview of the industry. It also teaches you some basic aspects of tattooing, but from a different perspective.

You will learn how to become not just a tattooist but also the owner of your own studio. The book is informative and engaging, thanks to the years of experience of Shelly Dax – the author.

The Tattoo Textbook fills the void other titles left behind. For instance, customer services and supplies are rare subjects in tattooing books. Still, Shelly Dax makes a ton of information accessible to those who lack experience in running a business.

Get this if:

  • You want to learn about the basics.
  • You want to start a business.

Don’t get this if:

  • You want to sharpen your techniques.
  • You need an inspirational collection book.

5. The Tattoo History Source Book – Best History Book

This book comes with a major departure from other choices on this list. It doesn’t teach you how a needle works or any skill. Instead, this thorough source documents tattooing’s rich history that dates back several thousand years.

The Tattoo History Source Book is a collection of historic designs that you may have never seen before. It starts from the Greek and Roman era and ends with the modern tattooing scene.

The author, Steve Gilbert, is a historian and a tattoo artist himself. At the beginning of each chapter, he gives an introduction and explains the historical context of eye-opening tattoos in these essays.

Overall, this title is the most comprehensive source covering this subject. It would make a perfect gift for every tattooist.

Get this if:

  • You want to understand the history of tattooing.
  • You are willing to learn other aspects of this craft.
  • You need a gift for your friend and colleague.

Don’t get this if:

  • You want to learn and practice your skills.

How To Pick A Book About Tattooing

1. Topics And Purpose

What kind of information you want to get has everything to do with the decision. Most books want to show you how to make a tattoo the right way. But there are other choices that delve into other sides of this art too.

Think about the topic that sparks the biggest interest or can improve your skills the most. What do you want to hear and learn? How to work with ink? Tutorials that lead you through each step? Stories from high-profile artists? The market is flooded with all.

2. Knowledge Level

There is no shortage of great books about this craft. That said, they are written with the same audience in mind. Some can be too indigestible for newcomers, while seasoned artists may find them a boring read.

Find out who the authors are writing the books for. Read a sample if possible too. This way, you can confirm its content and whether you can understand it.

Also, each author has their own way of writing. And reading a body of work whose style is not your cup of tea would be a daunting experience.

3. Reviews And Recommendations

Readers who leave reviews are usually enthusiastic about a topic. They may love or loathe what they have just read but certainly have enough passion for putting down their thoughts.

Check out reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other forums. They can be a reliable source to vet a title, even though you may run into subjective opinions. Poorly written and boring books are unlikely to get many positive reviews no matter what.

You should also ask for and check out suggestions from like-minded people. There is a higher chance of getting the right resource if people are in the same boat and love it too.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I Teach Myself Tattooing?

Entering an apprenticeship is still the most popular way to learn this craft. But you can self-learn it too, at least some aspects of it.

2. What Do I Need Other Than Books To Learn Tattooing?

Tutorial videos are an effective medium for showing the process of designing tattoos. You should also participate in forums and attend workshops ito build your network.

3. How Can I Practice Tattooing After Reading Those Books?

Some books recommend what equipment you should get to follow their lessons. Simple designs are great subjects to start. Draw a lot and practice your skills on a friend with a non-toxic marker or henna dye.


With the best books about tattooing, you can learn from the best people in the scene. They are always a good channel of knowledge and experience that you might not be able to find elsewhere.

Check out Charles Jordan’s Tattoo Basics to know about the equipment or Tattoo Johnny to expand your design library. On the other hand, The Tattoo Textbook can prepare you better for your first-ever studio under your name.

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