Ben Fairman had his first full sleeve inked at Jolie Rouge Tattoo Studio by Claudia de Sabe in 2010. http://jolierougestudios.blogspot.co.uk/ I met Ben at the Art in Action event at Waterperry Park near Oxford on Saturday 20th July. http://www.artinaction.org.uk/ He was sitting there having a drink at one of the innumerable temporary cafes and I approached him and then we sat talking for at least a quarter of an hour.
He lives in west London and works in advertising for a small company. He is engaged to be married to the daughter of the artist Tony Merrick, who was demonstrating his technique at the show. Annoyingly I didn't make a note of her name.
Thousands of people were milling around. Art in Action is a cross between a village garden party or fete, the Antiques Roadshow and a tattoo convention. Why the latter? Because as at a tattoo convention you stand over artists and see them work and look at their skills in action.
Ben says the woman on his shoulder watches over the sleeve which uses its fine lines to depict a journey from the flowers of life to images and death and there is also a compass to direct you on your way. All very complicated but then Ben is a complicated man. In 2007 after the break up of his marriage he had a breakdown and engaged in self harm and cutting. His face bears the scars, though the nasty remnant of the long incision down the left hand side of his face is obscured in this photo. As he came out of his depression he had a phoenix tattooed on him. His tattoos he sees as part of the healing process. The ink felt like a shell and then he came to feel more whole.
The owl on his right arm reminds him of his clever fiancé, a psychotherapist, who has brought a lot of excitement to his life.
And the future? His mother and fiancé wanted him to keep his arm free of tattoos. That hasn't happened. But he is soon to be married and he is very excited about that.
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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.
This is how I look after being on hormone treatment for 18 months and after two lots of facial feminisation surgery. I have also had a lot of electrolysis on my beard. I have been transformed. And there is still quite a way to go yet. You can see some of my tattoos peeping out from the top of my dress. It seems evident now that my quest for a full body suit is linked to my gender dysphoria. I am not trying to suggest that everyone who gets a body suit suffer from dysphoria. Not at all. But in my case I think it is just one of a number of things I had been doing to change my appearance completely. Now my focus on being tattooed has dissipated as I continue my transition with my mind devoted now on my gender reassignment surgery scheduled for August of this year, 2020. Once my transition is finished then I must finish the work currently in progress on my legs. You can follow my transition via my YouTube videos. Just search for Zoë Genevieve Perry.