Brilliant Books (and Treasured Posessions) - Forever and Ever by Shawn Barber

One of my favourite things to do when I just need to relax is curl up with a book, but sometimes this doesn't really go to plan when I pick a book to flick through that fills me with inspiration and sends me straight off to work again. Forever and Ever does this to me every time.

This weighty volume is a collection of works by Shawn Barber, a fabulous artist and tattooist working at Memoir Tattoo in Los Angeles which is also home to his girlfriend and fabulous tattooist Kim Saigh - you may recognise her from the first season of LA Ink.

I think it is the texture that Shawn brings to his work that really draws me in, along with the neutral, muted backgrounds and bold pops of colour in his subject's tattoos which he brings to life with amazing accuracy. He has a magical talent of showing that the designs are part of the owners skin and not just a piece of clothing, somehow managing to replicate the matt, engrained and fainty blurred look of a real tattoo.

For an artist this book really is an invaluable resource, with several progressions pages thrown in such as the one below that help you follow Shawn's work process and colour layering. There are also some great candid shots of him working in his studio which give great insite into the artist's life and creative space. Sketches such as the piece above show Barber's great talent for using his tools to imitate structure and texture, clearly shown in his portrayal of Grime's famous spikey, tall crop of hair.

This book really is one of my most treasured posessions - it went out of print a while ago and though you can get second hand copies from Amazon they will set you back a pretty penny going for £80 plus. I do hope that one day I can get my hands on a copy of Barber's first book Tattooed Portraits, but the few copies of this available start at a tidy £250. There is however a new book to be released in September, Memoir, which you can pre-order here. You better believe my order is already in.