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?

Comments (22 total) Add your comment
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  • Stacie


  • meghan

    those are cool looking covers, but im not wowed by the book choices….bridget jones diary????

  • c

    Hmmm, Bridget Jones looks really think and teenage young. Other wise they’re a cool concept, although the writings a bit difficult to pick up immediately

  • alex

    the DFW is cool.. i’m really psyched for that interview/biography thing of him coming from David Lipsky. I’ve heard it’s amazing

  • Matt Staggs

    Perhaps you should reconsider some of your prejudices concerning tattoos and the people who have them.

    • Theresa

      Thanks for posting this… that was my first thought as well. As someone who has tattoos, I did not appreciate the author of the article’s comments.

    • NicoleS


  • cuddles

    the covers look excellent, shame about the choices.

    bridget jones diary?
    the bone people? an obscure and dull booker prize winner from the mid 80s.
    jm coetzee’s weakest novel?


    get those designers on good novels and im in.

    • RS

      ‘Coetzee’s weakest novel’? What makes you say that? And which texts do you happen to compare it to? Have you read more than just Disgrace? Am really curious to find out. Cheers.

  • Drew

    Have you guys even read Bridget Jones’s Diary? It extremely original and unique, and it’s definitely a modern classic.

  • John

    CT author Karen E. Olson actually has a mystery series set in Vegas featuring a tattoo artist as the protagonist. And the covers are OUTSTANDING!



  • WTF

    Tattoos? Cries for attention; Look at me; look at how messed up my sense of self worth is.

  • tricia

    Unfortunate. I look at these and I see Jon Gosselin.

  • eric

    Speaking as a professional designer and tattoo-bearer (though not in the Sailor Jerry style favored above), I think these covers are unappealing with the exception of Bridget Jones. It’s a crass, commercialized application of classic tattoo tropes, and will likely move a few copies of books, but ugh.

  • erik

    1) Not everyone who gets a tattoo is saying, “Tattoos? Cries for attention; Look at me; look at how messed up my sense of self worth is”. That has been replaced by Twitter.

    2) THIS however is a messed up cry for attention for books that are not moving. Penquin has the reprints rights for so many brillant novels, these choices must be fiscally motivated. The Jason covers however was an example of great marketing.

  • erik

    Please forgive the terrible grammar and spelling…I just reread what I wrote

  • Abby

    I do not think that the cover for Bridget Jones’s Diary fits the book at all. I love that novel, and the darkness of the cover comes out of nowhere. I’m disappointed to say the least.

  • Crismloossy

    bardzo ciekawe, dzieki

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