Javier Betancourt’s recent book, This Is Meant To Hurt You, is a collection of interviews, tattooists’ artwork, and photographs of beautiful alternative models. These images of body art and gorgeous women are organized around intimate conversations with artists. These interviews give a compelling look at what it’s like to lead a career in the industry and the unexpected places from which tattooers draw inspiration.
The subjects addressed in the book are wide in scope. In the first interview, Jason Boyer opens up about a number of topics, including his love of Noam Chomsky and writing songs for his band Nerve City. There’s also a discussion with Daniel Albrigo, in which he talks about working on album art for rapper Action Bronson, traveling the world, and his famous “smiley face” paintings. The final dialogue is between Betancourt and Tamara Santibañez, which revolves around her hand-poked body art, BDSM-inspired content, and Chicano-style biker tattoos.
Alongside these wild interviews, This Is Meant To Hurt You showcases some of the three tattooists’ most impressive pieces of visual art. You’ll encounter eye-popping graffiti, custom flash designs, subversive paintings of objects like the American Flag, drawings of sex toys, and jaw-dropping tattoos, of course.
The collection’s photographs of models Amanda James, Sami Haims, and Jordan Ebbitt are absolutely stunning and all taken by the Betancourt himself. Each one is at once erotic and deeply emotional. In shot after shot, Betancourt captures these ravishing ladies in their most vulnerable states yet preserves their powerful feminine mystique.
All in all, This is Mean To Hurt You does exactly what its title implies. Like a tattoo machine, both the interviews and imagery get under the skin a bit, presenting both happy and painful memories from tattooists’ lives, and in doing so, they leave a lasting impression on the reader.