Showing posts from 2011

A gallery of tattoo photos

I received a camera for Christmas and used it to photograph my tattoos today - or some of them.  They would be a lot better had I just had a body wax, but it's my blog so here they are:

Tiger lilies in colour

It was a case of ink over ink today.  An art nouveau image tattooed on me in the late 1990s in black has now almost been completely coloured in and relined.  And how much better it looks!  There's just a little left to be done but it brightens up that whole area of my body.
As Ben worked he talked about the number of people with tribal tattoos who were now having it covered.  It highlighted for him the risks of following fashion too slavishly.  I said that we tattooed people do have to beware of that pitfall but it's almost impossible not to pick up what's in the zeitgeist.  I have had some tribal work of my own covered by Ben, when he completed my backpiece and it was tough to disguise it. So I am living proof of his argument. I like to think I'm just doing my thing, but at a conscious or sub-conscious level I'm bound to be influenced by what I see in magazines or at conventions.  We can't help belonging to the culture of our age.  The only safe way is to go …

Authentic look of Girl with The Dragon Tattoo

I was apprehensive about the Hollywood version of the Swedish film, "Girl with a Dragon Tattoo".  It may yet prove to have been a justified fear, but the girl who plays Lisbeth looks just right and has gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure that is so.  She has had many piercings and a drastic haircut, all of which she has maintained long after filming has been completed.  Rooney Mara, see above, is not an actress with whom I'm familiar but having seen the trailers she has completely transformed herself into a tattooed and pierced Swedish Goth.  I am convinced by her. It may be that she has done all this to make sure she is again cast in the sequels that will follow if the film is a success.  But she's gone so far it's hard not to imagine that she is living out a persona with whom she is completely at one, in terms of appearance.

Two page spread in Tattoo Revolution magazine

In this month's edition of the British Tattoo magazine "Tattoo Revolution" I have a two page spread, part of a feature on "Wrinkly Ink".

The photos were taken in the spring when I attended the Newport, South Wales convention. 

I am really happy with the article though slightly embarrassed it doesn't make mention that my moko is painted on.  Those who saw me in the flesh weren't fooled and nor did I expect them to be.  I just hope I haven't misled those who read the article in Tattoo Revolution.

That said, I'm entitled to look how I want to look in any place or time and what you see here is what I like to be.
The picture on the bicycle is somewhat surreal but maybe it amused the editor to show me like this.  All I can see is my uninked legs.  Hope I live long enough to remedy that.

Why not visit the magazine website and if you like what you see, subscribe.

A final piece of this jigsaw

There wasn't an awful lot to be done to complete the inking of my stomach but it's complete now and all my chest and lower torso are covered.

Next time Ben will colour the tigers coming out of the lilies and work on the hair of the woman on my right side, which can't be seen in this photo..

I am excited to have reached this stage and to have an area that is so visible to be fully covered.  It's that moment right after a session when I feel some euphoria.  A smashing time.

Ben was telling me that his hearing was affected by one of his female clients.  She screamed so loudly in a high pitch right through her tattoo session that he temporarily lost some of his hearing.. I asked him why didn't he just stop but it seems she was keen to continue.  It takes all sorts.  It's just as well the police didn't rush in to save her.

What makes me want a body suit?

I quite often ask myself why do I want a tattoo body suit?  Why do I want to cover my whole body with tattoos?  What is the fascination and what gives me the drive and determination to do this?
The photos here show a range of types of body suit. I'm not at all sure the final one is for real, but it looks great.

If you look elsewhere on my blog you will see plenty of evidence of my significant progress in that direction.  By the end of this year all my torso, both my upper arms and my thighs will be fully covered.  That leaves my legs and lower arms.
The answer to my own question is:

1) I am excited by the idea of the transformation of my body.  I want to be different from the overwhelming majority of the population.  In large measure I have already achieved that.  It alters my sexual identity and my personal characteristics.  It means in many ways I am not a white man any more but a man of many colours.  How thrilling.  But what I've done already is not enough. 2) I want to comple…

The sandy sea floor tattoo

My torso gets closer and closer to completion.  A couple more sessions and it will be almost there.

I persuaded Ben that I had enough of the blue background and wanted there to be a sandy bottom to the sea and this is what is now emerging bringing a different colour emphasis.  The tigers coming out of flowers in black (hard to see in this photo) will soon be coloured in too, though they can't be very vivid as they are already so inked in a somewhat faded black.

While being inked a woman of 42 who was getting a piercing peered at my tattoos and exclaimed how much she liked them.  I know they are not everyone's cup of tea but I enjoy having my body art examined.  It can be hard to explain to people and convince them that I am happy for them to look at my body in the same way they would at a picture in an art gallery.  They are possibly inhibited because they are so conscious of me the human being rather than my body the canvas.

How do I know she is 42?  Because her small son was…

The London Tattoo Convention 2011

How I wish I could have made it to the London Convention.  Next year it is a must for my diary.  The Guardian gave it excellent coverage while the BBC was plain silly and lazy about it.

This face tattoo (above) is splendid and very cleverly done. It would be good to have had the chance to see it from other angles.

The back piece (see above) is magnificent and was published in the largest size in last Saturday's Guardian.

The BBC article rightly says tattoo afficianados rarely regret their tattoos and then goes on to talk about whether other people do have regrets and what can they do about it.  It showed the imagination of a flea.  Feeble, feeble, feeble.

Tattoo numbing cream versus Vasocaine

Ben never seems to tackle the area of my body that I expect, so my efforts to use numbing cream in the most effective way are partially thwarted.  The instructions on the tube say that it should be applied in two stages.  First rub in a generous amount on the area to be affected and after that is done then put on another layer. Then keep it all intact by wrapping cling film around.  This should be done 40 minutes before being tattooed.

Unusually for Ben, he was very late finishing the previous customer.  She was having work done on her ribs and I could hear her groaning.  This is a vicious area of the body to be tattooed without the aid of numbing cream and spray.  The consequemce for me was that my work began half an hour late and I was worried that the numbing effect would wear off.  In fact the reverse was the case and in the areas I had applied it I felt almost no pain and did not need the Vasocaine. 

My experience of Vasocaine is not altogether positive.  It doesn't kick in …

Grandparents with tattoos

The media wouldn't be interested in Grandpas with tattoos. That's because I imagine there are so many of us.  The fact that I have six grandchildren counts for nothing.
But the idea that women in their late sixties or in their seventies or eighties might be embarking on getting themselves tattooed, then that's a story.  If the woman is 100 years old then that's best of all.  And these women exist as you can see in this picture. The centurion photo I found just isn't sufficiently detailed that I want to show it on my blog.
I do wonder how many old men like myself are occupying themslves, as I am, with getting a bodysuit.  A few but perhaps not a great number.  We ought to form a club.

A watery tattooed stomach

From this angle you would think my torso were completely inked.  Not yet, but it's heading that way.  Next time some finishing touches will be needed to the flower and a little more and then on to the centre of my lower chest and stomach.
Once the worst of the discomfort eased, Ben and I engaged in the usual sort of conversation about the problems of the world and holidays.  Ben was just back from Turkey and Prague and inevitably the riots were given a once over.  Well, you've got to fill the long hours somehow.
The tattoo parlour front of house has been given a major face lift, a source of pride for Ben and Stu, who has been the interior designer.  A sign that the studio is moving up in the world.

Tattoos and marital problems

This is Jacqui Moore, who according to the tabloid newspapers, got this body suit to spite her now divorced husband.  (  It took her eight years and all the tattoo work is thanks to her new partner, who is a tattooist. I am struggling not to feel envious for her transformation is truly shocking and exciting. 
There remains her right leg and face fully to cover.  Everything else is remarkably complete, except I notice there's her head as well.  I wonder if she will eventually go the whole way.  Jacqui is now 41, so was only 33 when she started, and is the mother of two children.  I do not believe that throughout the eight years of pain and resolve she was constantly saying to herself "that will show him" but rather once free from her marriage that she may have felt free to do something that she had for some time wanted to do, yet fel…

The growth of scratchers

I was a little incredulous at Ben Boston's comment that there could be as many as 1,000 tattoo "scratchers" or amateur tattooists in Bristol but was chatting to another and in this case very young tattooist who until recently was working at Birmingham Ink (  He said Ben was right and the craze is getting out of control.

In the States a campaign group has been created called "Destroy Your Local Scratcher".

It highlights the "Tattoo School" programme aired on the TLC channel last week in America.  In our risk averse society it's surprising the health authorities don't seem to care about the absence of hygiene practices with amateur tattooists and the non-use of Autoclaves which costs thousands of pounds to buy.  It seems the scratchers can easily buy the actual tattoo machines off eBay for very low prices.  It's a funny old world.

Tattoo School on US TV and the left side of my tattooed body

Suddenly it can be seen what the three sirens on the left side of my body are all about.  This angle of photo makes me look so very covered, while in reality there is still my stomach and some of my right side to be completed on my torso.  So I'm still quite a few months away from completing that stage.

Ben was back onto his regular topic of amateur scratchers.  He argues that actually tattooing rather than being tattooed is now all the rage.  He thinks there may be as many as 1,000 of these people in Bristol.  I've no idea how he arrived at this number but he says he is receiving a stream of enquiries to his website on the subject.

This seems to cross check with what's happening in the USA.  The Needles and Sins site features a campaign against a new reality TV show over there called "Tattoo School".  This has enraged the American tattoo community.  Here are some details of the programme.

On Thursday, July 14 at 9pm, TLC will air "Tattoo School". Award-…

Proof positive I skinny dipped

Someone sent this photo around on Facebook - and I thought the event was to be discreet.  Anyhow, as is now there for all to see in this just about decent photo there is irrefutable proof I was one of 408 who broke the Guinness book of records record.

World record skinny dip

I was there at the Gower peninsula on Sunday 19th June along with 400 others.  I think the chap with the back piece tattoo on the top photo, upper right is probably me.  You may need a microscope!  There weren't many back pieces on show, so look carefully.  It was an assault on all my senses. There was the cold, the force of the waves on Wales's top surfing beach, the beauty of the National Trust beach, the joy of all the participants and the initial fear of the unknown and then the euphoria..  I wouldn't have missed it for anything.

Tattoo Revolution arrives in the shops


When I went to the Newport Convention I caught up with Neil Dalleywater, who when I last met him was editor of Skin Deep.  That's how off the pace I am.  Well now he's created an exciting new Tattoo magazine called "Tattoo Revolution".  This is up to issue 8 now and for the first time can be bought at WH Smiths, which should be a big boost for the magazine.

Anyhow, this time I actually feature in the magazine in the section on the Newport Convention, which you see reproduced right.  The voice is mine though I'm not sure how many of the words I remember.  It does reflect my views.

Neil is determined to provide an independent and intelligent voice and I wish him every success.  The articles in the magazine are longer and tackle more complex subjects than its competitors and Neil says the front page models don't have to be no older than their early twenties.  The design has a classier look too.

Arthur Rackham emerges on my left side

Down my left side we go and the three sirens are given some water and water lilies.  There will be extra grass to link up with my backpiece, which can be seen outlined on the picture below right.

Looking at me rom the front it appears that all of my chest is complete, though there are still some bits remaining including my left breast.

I'm pleased with what has happened here and look forward to this area being completed next month.  Ben will carry on down and around the sirens, who are taken from a picture by the brilliant Victorian illustrator, Arthur Rackham.

This session I followed the instructions written on my tube of numbing cream, which said put lots and lots of the ointment on, in two coats and then cover it with cling film.  This worked and I was able to cope with having the most tricky area of my body tattooed.

Tattoos around my armpit

Arm pits in a man are not regarded as an attractive area of the body - unlike women. But my left arm pit was not to be escaped and Ben has given it a garland of flowers.  This joins up the work on my back with my left breast and creates a beginning for the work going down the left side of my body.  It'll never stand out but helps create asense of completeness.  I think it works.

I talked to Ben about the young woman featured in my prior blog and the extent of her neck and face tattoos.  Ben doesn't like doing face and neck tattoos very much and will only agree to do them if a person is already very heavily tattooed elsewhere on their body.  I think such tattoos can look wonderful but often they don't.  Most of all they stop you being any more than a tattooed person.  I'm thrilled to be a tattooed person but do not want that as a complete definition of who I am.  So I am more conflicted about all this than Ben.

Face tattoos part two

I went to the Newport, South Wales convention yesterday.  Before getting there, I spent two and half hours with a face painter who gave me fake face and neck tattoos.  It was painstaking but very pleasant and enjoyable.  Sam Fisher, the face painter from Longwell in Bristol,  did a wonderful job and the reaction I got at Newport was quite electric.   All tattooists spotted the fakery immediately and most heavily tattooed people didn't take long either.  But many were unsure.  One way or another I caught the eye and it led to many conversations with those attending the convention.
It was an opportunity to talk about face tattoos and how far people were willing to go.  I was struck that a significant proportion of those there with some face tattoos were women.  I'm not sure, but maybe more than half.  One young woman I photographed, but unfortunately can't name check, has at her tender age advanced very far on neck and face.

She said she may well take it further. But others…

Warm.colourful flowers

My plan was take a colourful picture by the English artist Lindsay Butterfield who painted these poppies.  This picture brings some light, warmth and colour to my half sleeve.  My half sleeve is not finished yet but a scattering of poppies and leaves has altered its aspect.  It's hard to see just from from this single photo.

My photo is not the best to show off what has been done.  I must find a friendly professional photographer who can help bring some quality to my blog.  At the moment I get Ben to take a few photos on my iPhone.  The lighting is less than superb.

My snake woman is too scary

This tattoo is once again dark and this very greeny blue.  The body of the snake is lovely but I am very unsure about the woman's face.  I like beautiful and not ugly and she looks rather scary to me.

Somehow I have to persuade Ben that I want contrasting colours and warm colours and not just cold colours.  I have a plan to deal with this issue.

Progress is so slow at two hours a month and part of me wants to accelerate the pace but when the tattooing starts then I focus more on withstanding the pain and the energy it sucks out of me.  Can I really take it more regularly?  I certainly couldn't cope with longer sessions.

Darker tattoos are, of course, likely to be more durable and I'm sure that is a part of what is on Ben's mind but his house style appears to be blue infused.

A garland of flowers

Nothing dramatic today. The work was all around the Alphonse Mucha picture and some shading of the same.  The top of my shoulder appears very dark now.

Am I suffering from body dysmorphia?

Body suits can look so different one to the other.  The Japanese girl with the body suit in my eyes looks "normal" and not extreme, albeit very unusual.  There is no sense that she dislikes her body.  Whereas the second photos is of another attractive woman who could conceivably suffer from a form of body dysmorphia.
She has so radically altered her appearance that she may have done it because she didn't like how she was before.  I think she looks wonderful but then I am hardly coming to that judgement from the same place as the great untattooed or lightly tattooed world.

When talking to the students this week, I admitted that I am now in a hurry to eliminate all my pink unadorned skin on my body and that feeling of urgency contributes enormously to my desire to have a bodysuit. I was also asked if all social considerations could be eliminated would I have my face tattooed.  They appeared surprised when I said not only would I like to do that but it was a  matter of sad…

An "extreme" grilling by students

Yesterday I was invited to be one of three to be interviewed by students at a sixth form college in Bristol.  This was to help with their course work on a study of the social issues around body modification.  Hazel, who is a poet and former school teacher has a published book of poems on tattoos.  Damien, like me is tattooed.

The students' questions prompted me wistfully to look back to the eight days in 1998 when I got myself a mohican and wandered around the country in less conventional clothes than I normally wear getting reactions to my appearance.  I tried to get a documentary commissioned by the BBC entitled "Judging by Appearances" and nearly succeeded but fell a the last hurdle.  In that week I was photographed by Japanese tourists in Trafalgar Square and by Americans in front of Buckingham Palace.  In the City of London I managed to get myself invited to a merger party of two investment banks and after half an hour was thrown out because of my appearance.  I fai…