The Old Truman Brewery in East London was buzzing in more ways than one when thousands attended a tattoo convention on February 17.
The Tattoo Collective convention which was organised by the magazine Tattoo Life showcased 150 selected tattoo artists from Britain and Ireland who offered a diverse range of styles. Crowds from all walks of life were in attendance which reflects the change in popular opinion towards tattoos that has grown over the past two decades.
Tom Reeve, 30, from Beckenham who admits to having spent close to £10,000 on tattoos was getting his eleventh whilst at the convention. He told Rebel Rebel about his favourite tattoo and why he was returning to the same artist for a portrait on his hand.
“A friend I worked with got a portrait tattoo by David Corden and I thought it was incredible,” he said. “I decided I had to get a piece by him. Even though I had never met him before he invited me to stay at his house and I stayed there for three days. We got on like a house on fire. I flew back on fourth to Edinburgh about 5 times.
“That was my favourite experience because as it was such a big piece I got to know him well. Whereas some other tattoo artists I have had made me feel like they have only been there for the money and want to get you done and out the door.”
David Corden, from Edinburgh, is a tattoo artist who’s specialism is portraits. He passionately explained that the more specialized a tattoo artist becomes and is personally sought out by clients, the more they have in common which makes him feel like he is at work with his best friends.
He said: “If you don’t have a good experience you like the tattoo less.
“You should never be today’s wages. Getting money from what I do is a magical bonus but I often forget at the end of the day to take payment. Usually the client reminds me!”
Anu Laluna, from 1770 in Brighton, describes her fascination 16 years ago when she first started seeing tattoos on people that had stepped away from the mainstream:
“I identified with that crowd more than the mainstream. All the punks and the rockers and all the freaks. That is what got me interested. It was never about the self-expression which is so popular right now. It was more like Keep away from me! I’m a punk!”
“There are all these modern trends that are flying around and I think tattooing fits into that category somehow. It has become a modern trend, which has a life span but true tattooing will never go away. It is always going to be around because it always has been around before trends were even invented.”