The brand of the Force comes in many shapes and forms.
Star Wars fans have many ways of showing their passion for a galaxy far, far away. Some create and wear costumes, some write their own fan fiction, and an increasing number have gone so far as to have their love permanently inked on their body. Star Wars tattoos have become so popular in the last decade or so that you see them on TV shows such as Epic Ink; conventions like Lucasfilm’s own Star Wars Celebration have live tattooing on sight; and now there are two books released on the subject -- Force in the Flesh: Star Wars Inspired Body Art Volumes I and II.
Longtime fan and collector (and all-around awesome dude), Shane Turgeon, has used his fervor for Star Wars tattoos to immaculately chronicle this increasingly popular fan obsession. I’ve been fortunate enough to know Shane since before the first book’s release back in 2007 and recently had the distinct honor of having my own Star Wars body art featured in the new volume released a few months back. Knowing firsthand how much love really goes into these books, I jumped at the opportunity to talk with Shane about The Force in the Flesh, Celebration, and his own Star Wars tattoo collection.
StarWars.com: Contrary to popular belief, you’re not a tattoo artist. How did you first get involved in the tattoo community?
Shane: After getting my first tattoo, which was a Star Wars tattoo, I realized there were a number of other people out there who were also doing the same. This was back in 1998 and you have to bear in mind that the cultural landscape back then was not what it is currently for the popularity of nerdy tattoos. It was a very niche thing nestled inside two other very niche communities (Star Wars and the tattoo community). I started an online archive dedicated to Star Wars tattoos in 1999 and it grew in popularity over the years. At it’s peak it was getting 30,000 unique hits a month and featured over 500 tattoos. These days that number seems like a pittance; but back then, it was truly monumental. I started working with Lucasfilm to coordinate tattoo programming for Star Wars Celebration III in Indianapolis back in 2005 and that helped bring a lot more attention to what we were doing from both the Star Wars community and the tattoo community as well. Through all of that, I met a number of amazing tattoo artists who were hugely influenced by Star Wars and managed to build a solid reputation with them, which is difficult when you’re not an artist yourself.
Since then we’ve incorporated live tattooing at the last four Celebrations. I’ve written numerous articles and two books on the subject, been featured in several magazines, and on television and have opened my own studio, Shades of Grey, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The shop is both a tattoo studio and a vintage toy and comic store and art gallery. It’s a pretty great place to come to every day!
StarWars.com: One day I’m going to visit that shop. It sounds incredible. What was your first Star Wars tattoo?
Shane: My first Star Wars tattoo was the abbreviation for “straightedge” (a punk rock lifestyle choice based on abstinence from smoking, drugs, and alcohol) done in the Aurebesh. Shortly thereafter, I got a realistic Yoda tattoo based on a painting done by Tsuneo Sanda and the ball was rolling!
StarWars.com: How many Star Wars tattoos do you have now?
Shane: Oh jeez! That’s a hard one! My whole lower left leg is dedicated to The Empire Strikes Back, I have a vintage Power Droid action figure on the top of my left foot, a mini-Tusken Raider portrait and some other bits of Aurebesh here and there.