Brighton Tattoo Project
When I was in my early 20s you only had a tattoo if you had been in the forces, prison or considered yourself a bit of a wild child. Tattoo artists seemed few and far between. My first tattoo was done by a Hell’s Angel in Brighton’s Flea Market and it cost me a fiver. And it looked like it cost a fiver. Trust me, you do not want a five pound tattoo.
Tattoos had a stigma then. We had a friend visit from Czechoslovakia and, having spent a couple of nights in our home and meeting some of our friends, she wanted to leave. Back home the only people who were inked were gangsters and convicts. She’d come to England to escape the Communist regime and suddenly we seemed scarier than the Czech secret police.
40-odd years later, tattoos have gone mainstream, and the number of artists and shops have exploded. The quality and variety of art available now is incredible and tattoo artists no longer lurk in the shadows. They’re even on out TV screens (not always positively; MTV’s Tattoo of Us is deplorable).
I have been photographing tattooists and their subjects for a book which will be published in late 2020, provisionally titled Tattooists; the New Rock’n’Rollers.
A selection of photographs from this project appeared in the February 2020 edition of Black and White Photography Magazine.