Books | Shelf Life

Penguin gets tatted up with new 'Penguin Inks' series

Tattoos aren’t always the product of a good decision. That cursive text on your left bicep might look like the name of your ex-girlfriend, but what it really spells is “regret.” And imagine how you’ll feel at 60 when you look in the mirror and see Dr. Evil staring back at you from your chest. However, Penguin Books upcoming “Penguin Inks” series, in which the publisher commissioned tattoo artists and illustrators to re-imagine the covers of six modern classics in the style of body art is actually pretty inspired. And the resulting designs are pretty cool.

There are some recurring tattoo tropes (mainly women and roses), but each of the images remains distinct, from a serene and detailed portrait for J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians to an appropriately vulgar farrago of sailor-arm art for Martin Amis’ Money. And the choice to include Keri Hulme’s The Bone People in this project makes sense, considering the book’s Maori themes. The new editions are set to art up bookshelves this June.

Do you like the tattooed look? Does it depend on how you feel about the six novels themselves, or do you tend not to judge a cover by its book?

Originally posted February 23 2010 — 9:00 AM EST

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