Scab Vendor

Scab VendorConfessions of a Tattoo Artist

Jonathan Shaw’s Scab Vendor: Confessions of a Tattoo Artist is a surreal, multi-generational roller coaster ride through the underbelly of modern culture, charting the course of a life measured by extremes, and all the people, places, and events that shaped that life into a survivor’s tale of... more

Product Details

  • ISBN 9781681629155
  • Imprint Turner
  • Category Fiction

Click below to purchase


  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Indie Bound


  • kindle
  • nook
  • itunes


Jonathan Shaw’s Scab Vendor: Confessions of a Tattoo Artist is a surreal, multi-generational roller coaster ride through the underbelly of modern culture, charting the course of a life measured by extremes, and all the people, places, and events that shaped that life into a survivor’s tale of epic proportions. In its pages, Shaw takes the reader deep, not only into the recesses of his extraordinary mind and adventures, but also into the strange and magical process of memoir-writing itself.

If truth is indeed stranger than fiction, then, as Shaw’s friend and literary mentor Charles Bukowski once told him, much of this book would have to be lived before it could be written. In that sense, Scab Vendor: Confessions of a Tattoo Artist is much more than a fascinating chronicle of a popular outlaw artist's creative evolution. It is a multicolored, cinematic, modern-day Odyssey, written in blood, ink, and tears—a kaleidoscopic, visionary roadmap to the journey of the human soul.

You might know of Jonathan Shaw as the first tattoo artist to ever appear on The Tonight Show with David Letterman. Or maybe you’ve seen his likeness depicted by Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Art...more


Finally, after twenty-plus years of coaxing, cajoling, pleading and basic needling on my part, my ol’ scallywag brother, Jonathan Shaw has put his pen to paper, dragging and drudging up virulent and violent hallucinations from his not-so-cute brainscape. Been waiting too long for this. So have you, whoever you are, believe me. If you don’t yet know him, you will. If you didn’t want to, too bad. Once he’s in, he’s in. Jonathan Shaw’s words, work, life, lives, deaths, rants, rage, hilarity and taste rank with the best of ‘em. If Hubert Selby Jr., Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Neil Cassidy, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, the Marquis de Sade, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto, Edward Teach, Charley Parker, Iggy Pop, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, R. Crumb, Robert Williams, Joe Coleman, Dashiell Hammett, E.M. Cioran and all of the Three Stooges had all been involved in some greasy, shameful whorehouse orgy, Jonathan Shaw would surely be its diabolical reprobate spawn.

Johnny Depp

Jonathan Shaw is the great nightmare anti-hero of the new age.

Iggy Pop

Famed tattoo artist Shaw (Narcisa: Our Lady of Ashes) uses multiple narrative threads, vacillating between first person and third person, to tell his life story in this sprawling, experimental autobiography. The book is framed around an imagined conversation between a young man and a famous tattoo artist named Cigano—Shaw’s alter ego of sorts—interspersed with vignettes from Shaw’s life. Through this framework Shaw revisits his foggy memories of an often chaotic childhood and explores the influence of his actress mother, an alcoholic with a flair for the dramatic (“other kids got [the] Hardy Boys… I got Hieronymus Bosch”), and his largely absent father, famed jazz musician Artie Shaw, on his adult life, which was a whirlpool of drugs and alcohol. The gritty, gutter style of prose is sharpened by Shaw’s gift for dialogue and sharp insight. This tale is one of shame, humility, and wonder at how it all happened. Agent: Mark Gottlieb, Trident Media. (Mar.) Reviewed on 01/26/2017 | Release date: 03/01/2017 | Details & Permalink

Publishers Weekly

The grunge of Bukowski… The teeth-grinding momentum of the Beats.

Kirkus Reviews

Jonathan Shaw is the next Bukowski.

Rolling Stone

{Shaw is} a hunk of shit fish-asshole cunt-sucker!

Charles Bukowski

Is he bitter? Oh, just a tad.

R. Crumb

Compelling and hot as a sticky summer night that won’t let you sleep.

New York Times Book Review

Jonathan Shaw’s writing is one hell of a wild ride through the bizarre netherworld of his own damaged consciousness. His experiences are real and his language and insights kinetic and brutal. This is what the French would call “littérature maudit,” and Shaw’s writing certifies him as a subversive and criminal inhabitant of the world of human expression.

Jim Jarmusch

“Jonathan Shaw is a decorated veteran of the drug war whose deviance is only exceeded by his clever ability to weave his own sickness into a true classic of American literature. He is Oscar Wilde and Charlie Manson tattooing a portrait of Dorian Gray on the white underbelly of a society desperately in need of this type of fearless storytelling.

Marilyn Manson

Jonathan Shaw has been a Zelig-like figure in American underground culture for the past forty years.


...{Jonathan Shaw is} a real writer...

Henry Rollins

Jonathan Shaw has made it through the eye-of-the-needle into our lives. This kind of rite of passage gives his perspectives a sense of the physical world that he creates for us. To immerse ourselves in this bare bones-attitude is what a novel is supposed to do for the reader. Lucky us.

Debbie Harry

Jonathan Shaw’s passionate descriptions of the surreal, paranoid jungle he inhabits capture the haunting poetry of his soul.

Hubert Selby Jr., author of Requiem for a Dream and Last Exit to Brooklyn

Shaw’s writing reinvents and promotes life. Be prepared to see yourself in the pages of Narcisa, the essence of your own poor humanity, weak and vulnerable and unprepared - and to see at the same time your own strengths, whatever your circumstances.

Paulo Lins, author of City of God

Required reading. One of my favorite writers.

Lydia Lunch, author of Paradoxia

Jonathan Shaw has had his passport stamped in hell so many times he could get his mail there… Written in blood, his writing takes us places most people never come back from… Vile as junkie-cum, beautiful as a dead drunk’s bible, Scab Vendor will keep you clawing at the pages…

Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight

{Jonathan Shaw’s Narcisa is a} compelling novel that grips you right from the beginning.


Shaw’s poetic collage lays bare the poetry of the streets and probes the shadowy corners of the soul with fearless candor.

Jillian Lauren, New York Times bestselling author of Some Girls

Literate and compelling...

Harlan Ellison, Grammy Award-winning author of Strange Wine

Amazing writing.

Kat Von D

Nightmarish talent... wedged between outlaw and genius... serious street cred.

N.Y. Press

Jonathan Shaw is a myth: an American anti-hero whose wild exploits are folklore in underground circles the world over.

Huck Magazine

Bruised, brilliant and unapologetically raw.

Gonzo Today

Jonathan Shaw is an American classic… a barbarian intellectual and optimistic cynic...


{Shaw’s Narcisa follows} in the great tradition of cultural criminals like Genet, Rimbaud, Artaud through the Beats.


A cult classic… Oozes delicious dysfunction… Gritty and raw as an open wound… Never before has an author explored {co-dependency} with such honest integrity …

Beverly Hills Courier

Very vibrant, very important art.

Men's Journal

Jonathan Shaw is a notorious innovator and creator.

Ponyboy magazine

Absolutely intoxicating… Bukowski on acid… Dark and hypnotic.

Powell's Books