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 with the old traditional forms such as Japanese. There is no such thing as true originality. You won't find it on my body.
Ben thought some people will come to regret the work they have. It's becoming more common for people's first piece of work to be a big one. I said that I wish I had been that bold and if I had I wouldn't have had all these bits and pieces that have had to be incorporated into my body suit. Though the risk is if your first tattoo is large and then you decide you are not keen on being tattooed then you've got a much bigger problem. But that's not how it would have worked out for me though it's inevitable that the more you are tattooed the more opportunity you have to learn about the process and about yourself and what you really want. No simple amswers. For people like me a big part of the exercise is to be tattooed. I want coverage - lots and lots and lots of it.
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My mind is focussed on just one kind of extreme body modification - heavy tattooing. My body appearance has changed drastically in the past five years. But what are other people's body modifications of choice? One is a practice known as "tight lacing", in which the users of corsets embark on reducing their waist sizes to as small at 17 or 18 inches, if they can. It's not something that grabs me but Lacie here ( www.staylace.com ) has dedicated herself to the practice. There are others like her who take it very seriously. It's a fetish and not necessarily permanent. If you give up regularly wearing this special kind of corset then you will eventually revert to normal. I have no plans to embark on this myself, but before I pass any judgement must reflect that what I am doing to myself is even more extreme. The images here are truly eye catching. I have never knowingly met anyone who is into tight lacing yet there is a big community out there who do it.
The work in my groin and pubic area has been completed. Years ago Louis Molloy did the central figure in this picture but avoided going all the way. Now Ben has tattooed a circle of clouds all around the image that goes as far as it can without inking my genitalia. This completes the work on my torso. Added to that Ben has worked some hair detail on a much older art nouveau image originally tattooed in the nineties. Months ago Ben covered the black hair with brown. Today he gave the hair some texture. To mark the end of this phase Ben took some pictures of my whole body.
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 furt