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. And tattooists were few and far between. My first tattoo was done by a Hell’s Angel in Brighton Flea Market and it cost me a fiver. And it looked like it cost a fiver.
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.
I have been photographing tattooists and their subjects for a book which will be published in late 2020.
A selection of photographs from this project will appear in the February edition of Black and White Photography Magazine.