The Beauty That Lies Within These Pages Is More Than Skin Deep

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Revelations: The Art of Justice Howard

“Revelations: The Photographs of Justice Howard” by Schiffer Publishing is more than just a book of photos by an artist. It’s a multidimensional look at the art of photography and tattooing, and how, in the right hands, the two can come together in a beautiful union.

It’s instantly apparent by just looking at the cover of this volume that this is a quality piece of workmanship. The heavy cover stock is beautifully rendered with a tattooed model on the front, laced with vibrant colors, giving us a glimpse of what’s to come.

There are three forwards written in this book, one by an artist and two by “celebrities” featured in this book’s pictures, all paying homage to the photographer, Justice, who also provides a written introduction.

I do not know a whole lot about photography, and although Justice is acclaimed as a pioneer in the art of photographing tattoos, I’m sad to say I was not familiar with Justice’s work before obtaining this book. However, that being said, I am a huge art fan and after looking at the images she captured in these pages I can see why she is so highly esteemed. All of the pages in this book have this heavy, substantial feel to them so that, as you turn the pages, you don’t feel as if you’re going to tear them. In fact, several times I found myself looking to see if I had a couple pages stuck together.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section is titled “Ink Ikonz: Tattooers and Piercers” and has photos of 20 well-known artists within the tattoo industry. The second section is “The Models” and contains photos of 48 models, with each profile getting from a single page to several pages in length, from one picture per page to collages. The last section is “Celebs and Luminaries” and focuses on 17 famous (though mostly not your normal Hollywood type famous) people whom she has photographed.

The artists, models and celebs photographed here are not portrayed as merely human canvasses depicting the art of tattooing. There is a short bio on each of them that gives us a little insight into who they are and what their ink means to them. Tying the art and people together is the photographer who is the real subject of this book.

Each photo or set of photo does an exceptional job of capturing the essence of the model and the tattoos on their bodies. Some photos are shot in such stark realism that they appear almost three-dimensional, others as if they just walked out of a Frank Frazetta or Boris Vallejo painting. Justice’s ability to frame each shot is an art form in itself, and her use of props, sets, moods, and colors compliment and make the tattoos take on a life of their own. Sometimes the shots are done in hues that pull out the over arching color of a particular tattoo that gives them a glow and washes over the models body.

While there are a few shots that have nudity, they are never in bad taste and only serve to be part of the composition of the shot. I was blown away by the composition of many of the shots just as much as by the colors and complexity of the ink work portrayed.

Looking at the inspirational inkwork done in these pages really brought home to me just how far the art form of tattooing has come, and Justice did as fine a job of showcasing that art as can be done by a photographer. Think of it as one art form bringing out the best of another in a complimentary way that brings together the life and passion of the artist, the model, the tattoo and the photographer all in one cohesive frozen moment in time.

Some books of this nature are often called “coffee table” books because they are left on tables for people to pick up from time to time and thumb through to see the pretty pictures inside. If this book is ever thought of that way, it would be an injustice. This is very much a reference book of fine art just as if it were full of paintings in oils, watercolors or pastels. It just happens to be done with a lens and ink.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0