Tattoo Ideas: Words & Shelley Jackson's SKIN Project
Shelley Jackson's SKIN Project, Ineradicable Stain
Shelley Jackson's "Skin" Project, Ineradicable Stain, has been in progress since 2003. Jackson, a published author, put out a call for volunteers who would tattoo the manuscript on their skin, one word per participant.
The novel will not be published anywhere in book form and will be known only to the volunteers, who will each receive a copy upon completion. The term "completion," however, is up for interpretation. When Jackson first launched her website and proposed the idea, she stated that if not enough volunteers came forward to complete the first (and only) edition, then the incomplete version would be considered definitive.
The words are assigned to volunteers in the order in which they sign a release form. The assigned word may be any size (the volunteer decides), but must be tattooed in black ink in a classic book font. The word may be placed anywhere on the body, as long as the volunteer did not receive a word which names a body part. In this case, he or she can tattoo the word anywhere EXCEPT on that body part. (For example, the word "hand" can not be tattooed directly on someone's hand.)
She also explains on her website that the participants are not carriers of the text, but are the words themselves, the embodiment of a concept. If any volunteer wanted to cover up or remove the word on their body, it would alter the larger work and change its meaning, but only the actual death of participants would remove their words from the text. Jackson went so far as to say she would make an attempt to attend the funerals of her words.
Sounds self-righteous? Perhaps it is, and maybe it seems as though Jackson is removing the autocracy and agency from her participants, but that hasn't stopped 2,095 volunteers from coming forward.
Here are some examples from Shelley Jackson's SKIN project, along with a few others who are using the art of writing to convey a message best expressed in words rather than images.
SKIN PROJECTClick thumbnail to view full-size
Below, you'll find some other examples that use the art of tattoo to convey a message via words, quotes, and phrases rather than images.