T is for Tattoo

T is for Tattoo

Are you a tattooed parent? Looking for the perfect gift for your friend’s new baby?  Want to make your kid's bookshelf the coolest on the block? 

T is for Tattoo is an untraditional ABC book filled with traditional tattoo designs. This book combines early education with tattoo culture and provides those who already know their ABCs with a beautiful gallery of authentic art to admire and inspire.  

Created by tattooer Matt Manning and his client-friend and talented graphic designer Jesse Taylor, T is for Tattoo is currently raising funds on Kickstarter


We love this project so much, and not just because Matt used The Spitshade Set to create the beautiful designs, but because you have the opportunity to help bring this idea to life!

 We sat down with Matt and Jesse to hear their backstory and learn more about how The Spitshade Set was helpful in the design process. Keep reading to learn more! 

Jesse, where does your passion for tattoos come from?

Since I was a kid I’ve been creative, coloring and doodling on paper eventually turned into drawing on my shoes and skin. And I’ve always appreciated and valued art. In my teens I started listening and going to hardcore shows so I was surrounded by people who had tattoos. Those two worlds eventually collided and I started getting tattooed when I was 17. I’ve lost count of how many I have but some of my favorites are from Dave Quiggle, Myrah Oh and of course Matt.

How did you first find Matt and what made you choose him to help execute on your idea for a children’s book? 

When I moved to Tallahassee I was looking for a new tattoo artist. After searching for a bit I came across Matt’s work and it really stood out. I set up an appointment and we’ve been buds ever since. In between appointments and texts this idea developed and it just felt right. We could both see the vision and here we are. Plus he’s a super talented artist.  


Matt, was it hard to choose just ONE design for each letter? 

It actually was pretty hard. Jesse and I just compiled individual lists and then put those together to narrow it down.  Some were more obvious than others. 

I wanted to choose stuff that would make a cool tattoo but wouldn’t be too obvious of a choice. Also having to keep in mind the book is for kids learning to read so it had to be something that worked for them first and foremost. We put some staples in there like an anchor and an eagle, but there is also some odd stuff like a van and a yo-yo. 

We can’t help but notice that you used The Spitshade Set for the book. You’ve got to tell us - how did you hear about The Spitshade Set and which tools did you decide to use?

 I first saw The Spitshade Set on Tattoo Smart’s Instagram. Then I started to see what artists were making with the set and was impressed at how realistic it looked. There weren’t really any brush sets I was aware of that could actually simulate watercolor painting this accurately. The way you can manipulate the paint and push it around is pretty amazing. Not to mention the paper textures that come with the set really help with the authenticity of the watercolor look.


 For the illustrations in the T Is For Tattoo book I used the “New Shahpee” brush for lining. It’s clean but not TOO clean. The way the line responds and tapers off feels authentic and consistent. I also use it to do my line drawings for tattoos. It makes for a great stencil line weight and consistency. I used the “Magic Spit Shader” to blend with. To me that’s where the magic seems to be!

Yes! Yes! Yes! We agree and absolutely love the utility of The Spitshade Set. Your work here is stunning, but we know there are two pieces of this puzzle: the art and the business. So, with this Kickstarter campaign, Jesse, were you nervous? Is this your first attempt at crowdfunding something new?

This was my first time crowdfunding a project so I’ve been learning a lot. I’d definitely say there was some nervousness, putting this thing out into the world and hoping people connect with it – enough to spend money on it. The whole process has been a combo of nervousness and excitement, which is where I’m floating between now.

We are HUGE fans of this idea and hope that the Tattoo Smart community feels compelled to support you guys and bring T is for Tattoo to life! 

If you want to back this project, please check out Matt and Jesse’s Kickstarter campaign where you can read all about the different pledge tiers - including the chance to get your name tattooed on Jesse’s thigh?! 

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