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Inking The Force in the Flesh
An Interview Shane Turgeon, author and Star Wars tattoo enthusiast

By Kat
Staff Writer

August 14, 2010

Star Wars
fan and tattoo enthusiast Shane Turgeon combined his two hobbies to create The Force in the Flesh. Published in 2007, the coffee table book features over 400 tattoo photos and spotlights the stories of 45 Star Wars tattoo collectors and artists.

Author Shane Turegon talks tattoos, T-shirts, and Star Wars Celebration in today's interview.

How did you decide to create a book about Star Wars tattoos?

At the time of coming up with the idea of the book, I had been running a Star Wars tattoo website for a few years. In the process of running the site and going to conventions, I met so many awesome people with Star Wars tattoos who had very diverse and interesting backgrounds and i thought it would be great to collect their stories and art in a coffee table book.

  The Force in the Flesh by Shane Turgeon
Image Credit
The Force in the Flesh debuted at Star Wars Celebration IV in May 2007

Once you became serious about writing a Star Wars wars tattoo book, where did you begin?
The first thing i did was contact John Kellerman, who had recently self-published his amazing book Vintage Star Wars Action Figures: A Guide for Collectors. John was incredibly helpful not only in helping me avoid the pitfalls of self-publishing but going so far as to set up a meeting with the printer as well. Once i decided on the format for the book, i set out finding the right people, conducting interviews, collecting photos and writing bios. While i was doing this, my designer, Jeff Correll and i worked closely to define the look of the book.

Can you describe how you brought the book from concept to completion?
A lot of long, hard days and sleepless night pretty much sums it up. In the last few months before sending the book to the printer, i was working 12-16 hours a day on the book, writing, editing, proofing pages, etc.

How closely did you communicate with Lucasfilm when you were working on the book?
The book isn't licensed by Lucasfilm but i did communicate with them closely to make sure it followed all of the parameters a licensed publication would.

At what stage of the process did you come up with the title The Force in the Flesh?

Likely during one of those aforementioned sleepless nights. I remember lying in bed and it just sort of came to me after months of pondering what a good title for the book might be.

How did you get the photos of the tattoos for the book?
We did some principal photography at Celebration III and whatever we were missing beyond that, i had all of the people featured submit new photos.

What's one of your favorite Star Wars tattoos that you've seen and why?
That's a loaded question! There are so many great Star Wars tattoos out there that it's impossible to pick one. Bespin backpieces, lightsaber fingers, Rancors on the sides of, it's really difficult to choose just one.

  Darth Vader tattoos
Image Credit
Tattoos by Justin Kovesy, Steve Hayes, Guy Aitchison
When did you decide to get your own Star Wars tattoos and how did you choose the designs?
I got my first Star Wars tattoo over 10 years ago. I remember reading Jon Bradley Snyder's article on Star Wars tattoo in the early 90s and thinking it was a great thing. When i got my first tattoo, i wanted to represent Star Wars but not overtly so. I decided to get the abbreviation for Straightedge across my lower back but in the Aurebesh. While getting tattooed, the artist, Steven Hayes, commented on how he wanted to do a Yoda. I bit, picked a design and he did an amazing job on my leg. Over 10 years later, and Steve and i have just opened a new tattoo shop together at the beginning of August.

You have coordinated Star Wars tattoo art shows at several Star Wars conventions. How did you decide to create the show and what has been the response from the fan community?
The fan response has been overwhelming. From the site, the book, to the Celebration events, i'm always humbled and thankful by how well the community has responded. Originally the idea was just to have a Star Wars tattoo competition at Celebration III and we had some tattoo art on display as well. The competition went over so well, we decided to do it again at CIV, where we also launched the book and had an even bigger exhibit. This time, we've got the exhibit, The Empire Skates Back tattooer art show, the competition and tattooing! It's definitely our most ambitious year yet!

How did the Star Wars tattoo art shirts come about? Did you approach Lucasfilm or did Lucasfilm approach you?
Our first shirt was an idea i had with Hannah Aitchison, the artist and i approached Lucasfilm about having it done as a CIV exclusive. It went over VERY well and shortly thereafter, tattoo couture became a lot more popular. A few companies put out some pseudo-tattoo designs and i wanted to show what the tattoo community could do when given the opportunity. I brought the idea up with some friends at and we worked together with the artist, Adam Hays, to make it happen. Our next shirt is due to come out very soon.

What is your favorite Star Wars character and why?
Definitely Yoda. Not this new skool, lightsaber wielding Prequel Trilogy Yoda but the serene Jedi Master from Empire. He represents a way of thinking sorely missed in our hectic world.

What's next for you?
I just opened a tattoo studio/toy/comic store called Shades of Grey here in Edmonton [Canada] so that's where the bulk of my time and energy is being focused on. I have loose plans for a second volume of The Force in the Force which i'd like to publish sometime in 2011.

A big thanks to Shane Turgeon for taking the time to share his story with For more information about about Shane and his book The Force in the Flesh, visit his website

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