Author Shelley Jackson invites participants in a new work entitled “Skin.” Each participant  must agree to have one word of this story tattooed upon his or her body. The text will be published nowhere else, and the author will not permit it to be summarized, quoted, described, set to music, or adapted for film, theater, television or any other medium. The full text will be known only to participants. In the event that insufficient participants come forward to complete the first and only edition of the story within the author’s lifetime, the incomplete version will be considered definitive.

How to Participate:

1.    Write to the author and explain your interest in the project.

2.    If you are accepted, the author will email you a Release of Liability.  Print it out, complete and sign it, and mail it back. (You may also request a printed copy by post.) By signing the release you attest that you are fit to participate and choosing to do so of your own free will; you release the author from responsibility for tattoo-related misfortunes; you promise not to make public the text of the story; and you give your permission for documentation of the project to be exhibited and/or published.

3.    You will receive a letter from the author specifying the word you are assigned.

The words will be passed out in strict order. A participant who does not want the word s/he is given may withdraw from the project altogether, but will not be allowed to apply for another word in hopes of getting a “better” one.

The words have been chosen for the purposes of the story, not for their suitability as decorations. Participants must be prepared for the possibility that the word they receive, once tattooed on their body, will suggest meanings unintended by the author and/or bearer.

Some words will come with a period, comma or other punctuation  mark attached. For example, you might receive as your word something resembling one of the following:


4.    You are responsible for getting the word tattooed on your body at a tattoo parlor of your choice. Read the following specifications carefully.

You are free to choose the site of your tattoo, except in the case of words naming specific body parts. These may be anywhere but the parts named, e.g. the word “hand” may be tattooed on your foot, stomach, shoulder blade, etc. but not on your hand. This stipulation does not apply to the word “skin” or any of its synonyms, for obvious reasons. The tattoo need not be in a place that is commonly visible (under your hair would be acceptable, for example) but must remain so long enough to be documented in a photograph.

The tattoo may be any size, so long as it can be read with the naked eye.

Tattoos must be in black ink and a classic book font. Words in fanciful fonts will be expunged from the work. No script, italics, German blackletter, etc; no decorations or embellishments of any kind.

5.    When the work has been completed, participants must mail the author three items:

1. The completed verification form.

2.  A close-up, legible photograph of the tattoo.

3. A photograph of the participant in which the tattoo cannot be seen at all.

6.    Participants will receive in return the full text of the story and a signed and dated certificate confirming their participation in the work and verifying the authenticity of their word.

From this time on, participants will be known as "words". They are not understood as carriers or agents of the words they bear, but as their embodiments. As a result, injuries to  the printed text, such as dermabrasion, laser surgery, tattoo cover work or the loss of body parts, will not be considered to alter the work. Only the death of words effaces them from the text. As words die the story will change; when the last word dies the story will also have died. The author will make every effort to attend the funerals of her words.

Shelley Jackson
123 7th Ave. Apt. 3
Brooklyn NY 11215