Morrissey fans / friends Julio Chavez and Anthony Amor got together to compile a book with nothing but Moz fan tattoos and devotion.
I'd rather get a tattoo of a band than get a tattoo of a significant other. Why? Because I don't believe bands breaking up would fuck you up in the most horrible ways a former lover can. And there's nothing like a good song from your favorite band that can pick you up on your worst day. These Morrissey fans seem to be on the same page as I am as they show off their tattoos dedicated to old Moz.
The brainchild of Morrissey fans and friends Anthony Amor and Julian Chavez who, of course, met at Morrissey concert, To Me You Are a Work of Art features 190 pages of Moz tattoos by fellow devoted fans. Fans from 11 cities—from Toronto to LA—agreed to roll of their sleeves and take off their shirts to take part of Anthony and Julian's project, with photographs by Patrick Moore and contributions from Nicole Kuntz, Jared Polin and Skully Smith.
Anthony and Amor's friendship go way back. Morrissey is probably one of the main reasons they stayed strong. Not only have they been to Morrissey concerts everywhere, from the UK to Japan but they also both have more than 20 Moz tattoos scattered in each of their bodies. To Me You Are a Work of Art first started at a Morrissey concert in the Midwest. And from there, the two friends started their adventure that eventually lead to the completion of the book.
The pair first started shooting portraits of friends who have Morrissey tattoos themselves. The project blew up when more people found out about what they were doing and wanted to get involved as some reached out to them through their Instagram account. The book captured not only the fans' tattoos but the personalities of the fans bearing the tattoos. The book captured these people's devotions to Morrissey and the Smiths.
“There’s some people that are, like, 'Well, my tattoo isn’t really good’ and we said, ‘It’s not about that; it’s about how you dedicated a piece of your body to him or the Smiths,’” told Chavez, who grew up in LA and was 14 when he first listened to The Smiths. The next year, he attended his first Morrissey concert, which gave way to over 200 more Morrissey concerts in the future. That's how he met Anthony Amor.
"He definitely brings people together," said Chavez. "If it wasn’t for Morrissey, I would not even know Anthony or a good amount of my friends.” His first Morrissey tattoo was a line from “That's How People Grow Up” that says, “Let me live before I die.”
“He played it live for the first time and I remember hearing those lyrics and thinking, ‘Man, that sounds amazing. I wanna get that tattooed.’” recalls Chavez. “The song hadn’t even been released or recorded yet … I remember one day I ran into his guitarist Boz and then I showed him it and then he was like, ‘Well, what if he changes the lyrics?’ and I was like, ‘He won’t.’”
It was quite a story and Chavez fondly remembers the day. The same feeling flooded the rest of the Morrissey fans the pair met for To Me You Are a Work of Art, fans who got Morrissey's signature tattooed on them and fans who had songs really hit them and got the lyrics tattooed on them afterwards. One fan even got a portrait of Morrissey and then went on to show it to the musician later on at a concert who signed the words, “more than life” near it. He got that tattooed soon after, too.
“I don’t even have my mom’s name tattooed on me but yet I have a portrait of Morrissey and my hands tattooed of him,” confessed Chavez. "So it goes to that extreme, you could say. … I have big posters in my place where I live of him and maybe a small family picture of my family next to my fridge.”
The Morrissey fan duo decided to only print 2,000 copies of To Me You Are a Work of Art, where they got Morrissey himself involved in the process and writing the foreword. Morrissey wrote: “I feel a great responsibility when I look at these photographs because here is the listener answering back, and we shall now be close for the rest of our lives.” He emphasized the deep connection he felt with all these people whom he has touched with his music, saying how the book contained ‘deep bonding and the deepest friendships.’
“Now is the future when all’s well, and I thank you with all of my heart,” read the last line.