Go Big or Go Home: Taking Risks in Life, Love, and Tattooing - Kat Von D
Full of quotable quotes and photos of tattoos and other works of art, this is the third book written by Von D but the first I've read by her, and now that I have, I'm much more likely to read the other two. I love tattoo art, and I have a great admiration for Von D's work as a tattoo artist, but aspects of her personality that were highlighted in the (since canceled) television series LA Ink left me with little to no interest in reading either of her previous books. I just didn't feel like I wanted to know any more about her.

However, I've been thinking a great deal about risk taking with my photography and other art, so when I ran across Go Big or Go Home: Taking Risks in Life, Love, and Tattooing at the book store and saw the title, I picked it up and started skimming through it. Immeditately, I found Von D's words resonating with what I had been feeling for quite some time, and I wanted to know about her experiences and perspective.

Because she is so willing to be open and honest about her own struggles and vulnerabilities, I felt as though Von D were speaking directly into my soul. I found myself highlighting, underlining, and writing in the margins--and wanting to share much of what I read with my students, who sometimes have a hard time letting go of or blocking out the voices of self-doubt that can stifle creativity.

Von D addresses several themes that aren't explicitly mentioned in the book's title, including creativity, individuality, discipline, and hard work. All of these topics are relevant to me, personally, and I believe most people can relate to what Von D has to say about them.

Now, let me clarify why I rated the book 4 stars instead of 5. Much of the book consists of the stories of individual people and their Von D-created tattoos, but several of those stories just didn't appeal to me, and, as my students would say, "I just wasn't feeling it." Also, I didn't appreciate the lighting and depth of field (or the lack thereof) on several of the photographs of the tattoos featured, but some of the other photos are just beautiful and do a great job of capturing the piece.

I will leave you with a question to ponder, something Von D asks in the book: "Anyone can master anything if they so chose. . . . If you definitively knew that you were capable of mastering anything . . . what is it that you would do?"