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

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Jerome Taylor takes a look at the unconventional world of the UK's tattoo bearers, reporting from the London Tattoo Convention.

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.”

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?