London’s Tattoo Convention: Forget ‘tramp stamps’ bold ink is back

There was once a time when London?s Tobacco Docks would have abounded with the
shouts and cries of workers in overalls and flat caps as they unloaded
fragrant crates of cigars from wooden ships and carted them off to the
city?s coffee houses. But for three days this weekend, it was the constant
high-pitched buzz of tattoo needles that filled the air as thousands
descended for the annual London Tattoo Convention.

For those who like to ink their bodies, the convention is not just an
opportunity to mingle with fellow tattoo fans. Some of the world?s top
artists fly in for the occasion giving British tattoo fans a plethora of
styles and attitudes to choose from. The Japanese and Chicano
(Mexican-American) styles seemed to have the longest queues.

Forget “tramp stamps” or small butterflies tucked away discreetly on
a barely visible part of the body. At the London Tattoo Convention big and
bold is definitely in. The festival celebrates all things alternative,
complete with the obligatory thrash metal bands and burlesque shows.

In one corner a small Japanese girl, seemingly oblivious to pain as an artist
completes the lone un-inked part of her back, giggles with her friends. In
another, an enormous biker flexes his muscles and shows a giant griffin that
wraps around his torso to the collective sighs of approval from the gathered
crowd.

Carly Barrett, 21, from Nottingham, travelled down to the show with the
Suicide Girls ? the alternative world?s answer to the lads-mag pin-ups of
Nuts or Zoo (beautiful, barely dressed women with lots of tattoos and
piercings).

She has been getting tattoos for the past 18 months and proudly shows off her
latest piece of body art, a black and white sketch on her forearm which she
got done on Friday. ?I love it here because of the sheer variety and quality
of the artists,? she says. ?I want to get more tattoos done as soon as
possible.?

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