The Anatomical Tattoo Book: the Skin as a Canvas for Anatomical Obsession

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Tattoos and the subject of anatomy have a lot in common. Both inspire a sense of awe and a tinge of discomfort. Combine the two—making the internal external—and the reaction is mind-blowing.

Yet, as someone that doesn’t have any tattoos, anatomical or otherwise, the anatomical tattoo means something different. 10 years ago I posted what became one of the most popular posts on Street Anatomy—Wearing your anatomy on your skin: the anatomy tattoo gallery. The response completely shifted my perspective, transforming Street Anatomy from a simple blog on medical illustration to a platform for anatomy in pop culture. And as the popularity of anatomical imagery exploded over the past decade, so has the prevalence of anatomical tattoos. Some of the most creative anatomical art I see continues to appear in tattoo form.

Emily Evans, of Anatomy Boutique Books, amassed a unique and broad collection of anatomical tattoos for her latest release, The Anatomical Tattoo. She categorizes the more than 150 anatomical tattoos across 80 tattoo artists into themes, such as dissection, the heart, organs, historical, and more, giving an introduction to the significance of each.

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Emily says of the breadth of tattoos captured,

“This book illustrates the huge variety of anatomical tattoos, both in their subject matter and in their positioning. Some are depicting what lies beneath the skin directly; others use an anatomical element as a representation of a deeper meaning. Mortality, love and science—all of these motives and more have driven the people in this book to use their skin as the canvas for their anatomical obsessions.”

What sets this book apart from other tattoo collection books is not only the breadth of anatomical tattoos featured, but also how it teaches us about the actual anatomy of a tattoo. Dr. Wendy Birch, a forensic anatomist at the Anatomy Laboratory at University College London, dives into the science of skin, illustrates the most painful and least painful points of tattoo application on the body, and even tells us how our tattoos decompose after we die.

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If you’re looking for an anatomical tattoo idea or simply love anatomy and tattoos, this book is for you!

The Anatomical Tattoo

  • 224 color pages
  • 8.5″ x 11.4″
  • Hardback

Available for $34.99 (or less) at Amazon*.

*Normally we would sell this book on our Street Anatomy Store, but it’s becoming more difficult to compete with Amazon’s prices. So please support us by purchasing through the link above!

Emily Evans is also the author and illustrator of the gorgeous anatomical text Anatomy in Black and The Secret Language of Anatomy.

1 thought on “The Anatomical Tattoo Book: the Skin as a Canvas for Anatomical Obsession”

  1. Hi Vanessa, I noticed an interesting page about you in the 2012 AHS Magazine. I graduated in your program back in ’71when Hooker Goodwin was still the head. Seems unreal. Your varied artistic interests spark my own. Down in some dark basement does the department still collect the painted wax heads of every student? I’m the good looking head with long red hair and beard.
    Cadmium orange and burnt sienna.

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