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Showing posts from 2010

The worst of ribs

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I had a mini-conference with Ben about the shade and texture of the blue on my chest. I was not happy that so much of the one blue was dominating everthing and more seriously my wife doesn't even like the shade.  Ben looked perplexed and initially resisted a change of tactic.  Then he relented and came up with the idea of waves of blue with different shading and the result can be seen here.  I am much happier now.
With the work being general in nature Ben darted around all over the right side of my chest and it hurt, local anaestheic or not.  I wondered how I was going to survive the session.  A part of me felt a little ashamed that I was complaining and asking for little rests but the other side of me said, "no, Ben knows me well enough after all these years and anyhow for almost anyone the ribs are extremely painful".  Apart from those getting body suits most people avoid this area altogether, with very good reason.  Of course, no one person has the same pain threshold…

It's worth suffering more afterwards

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Back to the subject of Vasocaine. Ben reports that one of his clients won't use it again because it slows the healing process. It has the same effect on me. My ribs feel still quite sore a couple of weeks after the tattoo. But in my case this is a price I'm willing to pay. I'd rather get as much tattooing done as possible in the time my appointment lasts. Especially as most of my work now is on my ribs and stomach, the acute pain in the studio would otherwise mean Ben would have to go more slowly and I would be more saturated with pain. The pain killer's not a soft option now as it doesn't kick in until some work has been done. Ben won't use it on line work. Once an area has been well worked on then there is a major relief. I have to confess that I've become rather dependant on Vasocaine now.

Colouring black

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It was time to tackle the central image on my chest, a half woman half cat art nouveau image. The original work was outlined back in about 1998 and strung across my chest and stomach. Now it is being integrated into my body suit and in colour. Ben decided to eliminate the blackness. He says his inks can do that and here is the evidence.

One of Ben's clients is having his head tattooed, having had everything else covered. Half has already been done by another artists but he is asking Ben to do the other half. I wondered if he was likely to want his face covering too after his head is finished. Ben said he didn't think so but if he were asked to such work he'd refuse. He doesn't want to be part of removing someone's identity. I was surprised that he took this stance.

My right breast

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My chest is looking very blue but when finished will be offset by other strong colours on my stomach.

This time I used a different numbing cream - Ametop. It was recommended to me by the tattoo studio in St Ives, http://www.myspace.com/shorelinetattoo. It didn't make an obvious difference to me but maybe I used too little or didn't apply it early enough. Ben followed up as usual now with the Vasocaine.

Ben says he's used Vasocaine now on several occasions with his clients and all of them have found it very helpful, so he will buy his own now as part of his service. It's good to have helped Ben in some way.

Ben in more sparing now with the spray and as a result I find the after effect is less strong and even though this time he worked quite a lot on my ribs the pain after the numbing spray wore off was much less unpleasant.

Scratch as you can

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I really did want to break up the expanse of blue on my chest, which looked like a T shirt. So after a longish chat, Ben agreed to create a ring a of flowers that are toned blue, pink and purple based on Art Nouveau. I think it's a very big improvement and also inks a blank area on my shoulders.

Ben was so full of his holiday in Prague, from whence he's returned yesterday it was quite hard to get him to concentrate on the task at hand. But eventually he got going and he used the Vasocaine more sparingly this time, so this was not quite such a pain free experience this time. It will be interesting to see if the discomfort I suffered for several days after the work in my ribs, repeats itself this time.

A few months ago Ben told me he'd seen evidence that "scratcher" activity was increasing in Bristol. Would you believe it but one turned up at his studio during my session with the bare-faced cheek to ply Ben with questions on what equipment to buy and how to use …

Less pain, more gain with Vasocaine

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This is not intended to be an advert for Vasocaine and I most definitely don't have any link with the company. Yesterday I used the product for the first time in the hope that the work on my ribs would be less than agonising.

The result far exceeded my expectations. As usual, some Emla cream was rubbed on first. Vasocaine only works as a local anaesthetic once the skin is penetrated so the intial work with the needle was still very uncomfortable. But as Ben Boston, my tattooist, progressed in the same zone the pain quickly lessened until after a while in some areas it almost disappeared altogether. The quantities Ben applied were very small yet the spray transformed the experience.

Ben was enthusiastic because my skin didn't puff up so the ink held well and my lack of discomfort allowed him to work without interruption. He was so impressed that he felt worried about being so pleased and suddenly his mood changed (Ben is a taciturn man so enthusiasm and worry don't feat…

Isobel has gone where others would fear to be tattooed

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It is for very good reason that Isobel Varley is regarded as the most tattooed woman in the country if not the world. There may be others with more outlandish tattoos, others with better designs. There are those whose faces are fully tattooed but I doubt if anyone has been tattooed quite so thoroughly in the places most wouldn't dare to go. Her genitalia and anal areas are completely covered as are anywhere else guaranteed to hurt to the maximum. Take a look at her website where she has kept a remarkable photo history from her first tattoo to her latest. Some pictures will make your eyes water. www.isobelvarley.com

Isobel and I have some things in common though. While I don't think I'll ever have the physical courage to have such extensive tattoos nor will I have my head and neck tattooed, nevertheless in my late forties, like Isobel, I had my first tattoo. And as she was, I am resolved to have a full body suit. Age need not be a barrier and she is an inspiration.

Lots of blue and an anemone

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My chest has suddenly become rather blue. Maybe it's too blue and lacking in variation. I'll wait until it has healed and I can tell what its texture is. I think I'll get Ben to inroduce some pattern in to it even if it he just introduces other shades of blue.


This was a very painful two hours and the anemone on my right hand side ribs came at quite a price, but I'm pleased with it and look forward to it having been coloured in. The process isn't going to be any any fun but at least the outline is there now. Meanwhile my new beard grows longer. I wonder how much further it will get in length before my wife starts to kick up about it. I've always wanted to know just how long it would grow if allowed to go on and on but suspect I'll go to my grave still wondering.

Body suits

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It's a long journey towards a body suit. While my back is fully covered my heavily tattooed front is still a long way from being completely covered. This photo was taken before my half sleeve on my right arm was completed.
Perhaps the best known person in Britain with a full body suit is Isobel Varley. Her website is a remarkable record of how she began to be tattooed quite late in life and rapidly covered almost every part of her body. She has left a significant part of her face uncovered but as for the rest - well I suggest you take a look for yourselves. http://www.isobelvarley.com
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On Friday 28th May Hazel Hammond launched her book of tattoo poetry in Bristol. Her poems are inspired by tattooed people and tattooists. One of them (The Tattooed Man) is based on my story.

Present at the launch were many local poets and several of the performers in "Needlepoint" staged at the Tobacco Factory last year as part of the Bristol Poetry Festival. The singer, Suzy Condrad, added to the poetry with her own brand of folk music.

One of the most heavily tattooed people at the party was Natalie, a young woman of 21, who already had acquired ink on her arms, legs, chest, back and stomach. Now she's at university she has come to halt because of lack of funds. She's also removed many of her 22 facial piercings, though at least half a dozen remain. She says she has not yet got to the point that she wants to cover all virgin skin and she hopes that unlike me that she won't get to that stage. I wonder what she will eventually do.

My half sleeve completed

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When I arrived Ben Boston had just returned from a dental appointment and had a frozen mouth. But he was undaunted and wasted no time in starting on the coral rocks on my tight arm. I wondered if he had time enough to finish the half sleeve and he did. The angle of this photo shows that in doing so he also completed a small part of my back piece that had been left undone a couple of years ago.

Next he will return to my right breast. I asked him if he would look into buying some Vasocaine (http://www.thetattooshop.co.uk/shop/products/tattoo-anesthetic-vasocaine.htm), a product not available to the general public that the tattooist sprays on once he has started his work. It only works on open wounds and I hope would ease the pain when he gets back onto my ribs and stomach.

Cover girls at conventions

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Yesterday I was at the Newport, South Wales Tattoo Convention. It seemed less well organised than last year and in particular none of the body painters advertised were there. This would have been because they did not know they were invited or so it seems after my various phone calls to them in the weeks preceding the event.

What was unchanged and is a familiar feature of all the conventions I attend is a samll number of very pretty and heavily tattooed, very visible girls who walk around in the manner of celebrities. They dress to kill and are often very stylised, Betty Boo being one favourite persona they adopt. Several I saw have tattoos on their faces and necks, often beautifully executed. I don't notice any male equivalents. I sense that some girls spotting the priority given on the covers of tattoo magazines or even in the national press to models with tattoos see a role for themselves.

They are, in effect, convention cover girls.

I saw some lovely work while there and w…

Sudden growth in do-it-yourself tattooists

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In Bristol it seems there's an explosion in the number of people in the street deciding they can do what trained tattooists can do. Ben Boston says at least fifteen people he knows who are his clients have bought tattoo equipment and are inking their friends at home. He says they find a it an easy way to earn a few quid. Some take it in turns to tattoo each other, often after a few pints.

If people decide they want to have amateurs tattooing them then that's their right, I suppose, however stupid. But the big problem is that the amateurs are not buying the expensive sterilisation equipment that can cost £3,000 a time. This could ultimately lead to some punters contracting a serious illness or even a fatal disease. Were this to happen Ben says this could reflect very badly on the whole tattoo community and he's worried.

What I wonder has led to this acceleration of a well established trend. Ben thinks it's the new street culture? The same trend that leads to peop…

Working on my arm

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My two hour session was all too short. Normally I struggle to keep going that long and it's now much clearer why that was the case than before today. Almost all my work so far is on my torso and it hurts there a lot - who likes having their ribs done for starters?. Surprise, surprise, the arm is relatively pain free and I could today have taken another hour with no trouble at all. It's obvious really, but until you go through the experience you can't really understand the degree of truth.

I talked to Ben about the problem of my snake woman and mermaid disappearing from view with strong colours around them. Not much can be done on the arm except to strenghten the lines and put in some highlights. But that's for the future and he now got to work on the seaweed and some outline for rocks. The upper right arm is now almost complete.

CONNECTING THINGS UP

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I felt so tired. After a night of insomnia and two hours sleep I was in no mood for rib work, so Ben got out his blue ink and dedicated himself to the top of my right arm and connecting to my back piece and round onto my right breast.

There are days when you can suddenly get an idea of how it might eventually all look and so it was this time now that there is an area almost completely inked. It feels so good.

BEGINNING TO CONNECT THINGS UP

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I felt so tired. After a night of insomnia and two hours sleep I was in no mood for rib work, so Ben got out his blue ink and dedicated himself to the top of my right arm and connecting to my back piece and round onto my right breast.

There are days when you can suddenly get an idea of how it might eventually all look and so it was this time now that there is an area almost completely inked. It feels so good.

Some serious chest colour

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My chest has been dominated by black. The mermaid (not in view here) is partly coloured now, but quietly. Today I asked Ben to be bold with the flowers and he has been. As the tattoo heals it will become more yellow. I hope as the work on my chest progresses it will become more and more vivid.

Face tattoos - the ultimate taboo

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It is hard for someone who is very heavily tattooed not to be fascinated by face tattoos. They make the person look so beautiful in my eyes. But to have your face tattooed in this way means marginalising yourself from society. So it's hard to see how I can do it and live my life so I shall have to satisfy myself with face painting.



Yet the Moko has a tremendous pull and attraction to me. If only I could have one. There is sadness and lament in those words. The lines follow the contours of the face and serve to magnify the beauty of the human form.

It allows the tattooed person to age with dignity and grace and makes you look grand and strong. the piercings add to the glamour. Many have their noses with huge rings and their ears elongated. Glorious.

Yet you only have to look at message boards where people discuss their take on people with tattooed faces to know just how revulsed the western majority are by their image.

How to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

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When I had my back piece done I started with virgin skin. This meant the design could be an integrated coherent piece of art. Now that I'm finishing the rest of my torso, I face a bigger problem. I already have a number of tattoos on my chest and stomach and they are in black. My back is in colour.

Now I am trying to make the whole torso look all of a piece and to make the existing tattoos blend into the part body suit..

I do this knowing there can't be a big feature at the heart of it, something I would, with the knowledge I now have, have strongly desired. The best I can do is allow the flowers at the top of my chest to dominate. They will be coloured in later this month

Good tattoo links

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I've only recently found Needles and Sins and now visit it regularly. It has by far the best journalism I've encountered of any site or magazine related to tattoos. It offers a wider window to the world. http://www.needlesandsins.com/ Marisa Kakoulas, shown here is one of its main contributors, when not doing her day job as a lawyer.

Also try Inked Magazine, that has the best photos around. http://www.inkedmag.com/ I've not seen it on the stalls in the UK, which is surprising. It makes Total Tattoo and Skin Deep look staid.

The Tattooed Toff: Painful areas to be tattooed

The Tattooed Toff: Painful areas to be tattooed

These are early days in the life of this blog and this entry is an accidental repeat of the previous one.

But while I'm here I can reflect on the pain I've suffered in the cause. It always feels it was worth it once I walk and skip away from a session. But at the time of the extreme pain in a few of the nasty spots it flashes through my mind that I can't go on with this insane body suit project.

Now as I write it stills feels like a brilliant idea - while in the safety and comfort of my own home.

Painful areas to be tattooed

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Today was my first session with my tattooist, Ben Boston, this year. He is working on filling out the rest of my torso and upper arms. The main item for today was an outline for the centre of my chest but he began by filling out flower stalks in green. All was well until after more than an hour he worked below my left breast on the ribs over my heart.

Ouch, it hurt. But worse was to come as he moved onto the outline. The sweeps of the lines hurt like hell and I had to take a couple of minutes break in the middle of that. But I braved it through.

Poor Ben is recovering from an attack of shingles by his left eye. He was off work for five days with it and was clearly out of sorts today.

Telford Convention - Tattoo Freeze 14th January 2010

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I needed a break from home in Bristol. Things had been rather intense over Christmas and then in January we were snowed in so I took the train from Temple Meads and headed of to Telford. It's not my ideal location for a day's break but there were surprises in store.

The convention was held at the so-called International Centre and whatever Telford's limitations, this was a great venue for a tattoo event, or any event come to that. It is modern and spacious.

My problem with going on my own to a convention is how to avoid wandering around in a desultory way with no one to talk to or compare notes. I began in this way but after an hour or so went to the restaurant and bar area. After taking ages to get a white wine I plonked myself down at a table with a couple of a similar age to myself. We got on famously. Later we were joined by their daughter and boy friend.

Then I went and returned to the jewelery stand and bought a second fake tribal earring. I liked it a lot.

At ab…

Diary of my back piece

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BACKPIECE TATTOO DIARY

Stephen Perry

July 2006 to November 2008

PLANNING THE DESIGN

Monday 3 July 2006, Bristol – at home.
My back is blank. My chest isn’t nor my stomach nor my hips. Neither are my upper arms, my arse or even one of my ankles - but my back is virgin, uninked.

Now, that’s all going to change. My tattoos to date have been higgledy piggledy. I’ve tried to order them sensibly but there just isn’t a grand strategy behind them - and it shows. I’ve avoided my back because in my grand scheme of things it was eventually to be the site of my piece de resistance – the full expression of my tattooed self. I’ve considered original art, Polynesian art; Japanese even but they and other styles I’ve rejected as either unrealistic or simply not me.




Art Nouveau and pre-Raphaelite press my button every time. The Japanese designs are peerless – incomparable but I’m not Japanese. Art Nouveau on the other hand owes a lot to the Japanese but it is European. Further I love beautiful nudes…

Back Piece diary

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BACKPIECE TATTOO DIARY





Stephen Perry


July 2006 to November 2008

















PLANNING THE DESIGN

Monday 3 July 2006, Bristol – at home.
My back is blank. My chest isn’t nor my stomach nor my hips. Neither are my upper arms, my arse or even one of my ankles - but my back is virgin, uninked.

Now, that’s all going to change. My tattoos to date have been higgledy piggledy. I’ve tried to order them sensibly but there just isn’t a grand strategy behind them - and it shows. I’ve avoided my back because in my grand scheme of things it was eventually to be the site of my piece de resistance – the full expression of my tattooed self. I’ve considered original art, Polynesian art; Japanese even but they and other styles I’ve rejected as either unrealistic or simply not me.

Art Nouveau and pre-Raphaelite press my button every time. The Japanese designs are peerless – incomparable but I’m not Japanese. Art Nouveau on the other hand owes a lot to the Japanese but it is European. Further I love beautiful nudes…