aCurator contributor Klaus Pichler will be signing copies of his new book, 'Fürs Leben gezeichnet' this Wednesday, December 7th 2011 at 7:30 pm at galerie OPEN, Legiendamm 18-20, 10179 Berlin. As well as some great portraits and detail photos, 'Scarred For Life' includes interviews with prisoners about their tats.
"There was no way of stopping people having tattoos done in prison, not even back in the 70's when we weren't allowed ink and needles weren't available. We just made all the stuff ourselves. The colour was made by cutting a piece off the rubber sole of our prison shoes, burning it and covering it with a tin bowl which created a layer of soot on top. We mixed the soot with toothpaste or shampoo. The red colour was made using brick dust which we scraped off the prison walls. Our needles were usually sharpened paper clips, pieces of wire or guitar strings." Mr. J., 57 years
"Traditionally tattooing used to be mainly for people from the prison scene, nowadays it is trendy everywhere. I'd say if you compare modern day tattooing to the old tradition, many people just feel very important nowadays. It never just used to be a tradition, you know, but it was also a sign of being part of a criminal culture. Everybody who got put away for a while just had to have some done. Well, you didn't exactly have to, if you didn't want to do it you didn't do it, but nearly everyone had some done. Criminals were criminals and they were tattooed. That was it. We were outsiders and with our tattoos we made a promise not to join the mainstream." Mr. L., 63 years
All images © Klaus Pichler