What is the Skin Project?

It's a 2095-word story published exclusively in tattoos, one word at a time, on the skin of volunteers. Read my call for participants here

How exactly does it work?

Read the complete guidelines here.

Is the project finished?


How many words have been tattooed?

For the latest statistics, see here.

Do you still need volunteers?

Yes and no. I am still accepting applications, but I do have plenty of volunteers already--over ten thousand requests for the relatively few words remaining.

I'm interested. Am I too late?

No, I'm accepting applicants in no particular order, so you could write me today and get in. Of course, the odds are pretty slim, given how many applicants I have.

How do you pick your participants?

I read your letters and choose the most interesting ones. There is nothing systematic about this process. My tastes are idiosyncratic, and I am not even trying to be "objective." However, I look for people who stand out, who tell me something surprising about themselves and what draws them to this project. Of course, I will have to turn down thousands of people, so don't take it personally if I don't choose you.

How do I apply?

Write me an email or letter and tell me who you are and what attracts you to the project. If I accept you, I'll send you a release form to fill out and send back to me. When I receive it, I'll assign your word. (Please see the guidelines.)

How long will I have to wait for an answer?

A long, long time. Please be patient! I have over 12,000 messages in my inbox, and I lick all my own envelopes. However, if I told you I was emailing you a release form and you didn't get it, something's probably wrong. Before emailing me, though, please check your junk mail filters (especially if you have a hotmail or yahoo account): I have been having particular trouble sending messages with attachments.

Who picks my word?

Fate does. I hand them out in the order in which I receive your release forms.

What if I hate my word?

You can turn it down, but you don't get a second chance.

What if I hate your story?

You should check out my other work before you take this leap, to get a sense of the kind of thing I write. In particular, read The Melancholy of Anatomy, my short story collection.

Can I put it anywhere on my body?

Yes, unless it happens to name a body part. Then you can put it anywhere BUT that part. (There is one exception: the word "skin" and its synonyms.)

Are there rules about size, color and font?

The word must be in black ink and a classic book font, and big enough to read with the naked eye. After that, it's up to you.

What's a classic book font?

I explain it here.

I got my word but I decided not to get the tattoo. What do I do?

Please be kind enough to let me know so I can reassign your word.

You gave me my word three years ago but I didn't get the tattoo until now. Am I still in the project?

Yes. I haven't bounced anyone yet, and I won't until further notice.

I got my tattoo. What now?

You owe me three things:

1. The form I mailed you along with the notification of your word.

2.  A photograph of the tattoo. This should be close-up enough that I can easily see that it is a real tattoo and not magic marker (I know Photoshop can work wonders, but I don't want to police this project; I trust you).

3. A photograph of you in which the tattoo cannot be seen.This can be any picture of you you like, in which you look like yourself. Whether that means a formal portrait or a polaroid, black and white or color, arty or mugshot-style is up to you. I like the idea that the pictures will reflect your individuality in form as well as content.

Do you want prints of the photographs, or can I email them to you?

Prints, please, unless that's prohibitively difficult for some reason.

I've lost the form I'm supposed to send back.

You can download it here.

Where do I send the form and photographs?

My address is at the bottom of this page.

I sent you everything and I still don't have the story. Have you forgotten about me?

Of course I haven't. But I'm still tinkering with the design of the story. (I'm a perfectionist.)

I've moved. What do I do?

Please update your contact information. Up to now I have been entering in your new addresses by hand, but I am woefully far behind, so I am changing my tactic. In a few days I will post a form here so that you can update your own addresses.

Shelley Jackson
123 7th Ave #3
Brooklyn NY 11215