Meet UK Tattoo Cover Up Team
Meet the tattoo fixers who erase your body ink mistakes
For some tattoo parlours, up to half of business now comprises of covering up unwanted markings. Sam Rowe speaks to the artists who make a living rubbing out their colleagues’ work.
David Dimbleby’s shoulder. Samantha Cameron’s ankle. David Beckham’s … well, David Beckham in general. If you’re ever in need of proof that tattoo culture is now swimming in the mainstream, you only need turn on your television.
Failing that, step outside, open your eyes, and ask that man at the bus stop to bare his chest. Odds are he may punch you or run away, but it doesn’t mean he’s not one of the 20pc of Brits sports some form of body art.
And yet, though the UK is among the most tattooed nations on the continent, it seems we don’t necessarily think before we ink – as a staggering one in six admits to later regretting it.
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From drunken holiday impulses to spelling errors or dodgy portraits, bad ink has become a staple tabloid story; fodder for an infinite number of schadenfreude-filled online galleries.
With embarrassing tattoos now so prevalent, transforming these disasters into works of art is actually turning into its very own industry.
“There’s a world of cover ups out there,” says ‘Sketch’, a London tattoo artist who stars in forthcoming E4 documentary series Tattoo Fixers. “Girls names, boys names; people they’ve known two weeks, get tattooed and break up with straight away.
“The problem is, people don’t think it can be covered up – they’ll think it’s so bad that all they’ll be able to get is a big, black tattoo. You don’t have to.”
“What I’ve found on this show,” adds Jay Hutton, another artist working in the show’s pop up parlour in Hackney, east London, “is that the bulk of the cover ups is from people getting p—– up on holiday and getting stupid tattoos. It’s almost a tradition. I genuinely don’t know anybody who has got a tattoo on holiday and not had it covered up.
“A tattoo is forever, but they always get it covered up eventually.”
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The pair claim at least 50pc of business these days is cover ups, with these arty renovations quickly becoming a more attractive proposition than the agony of laser removal.
“We don’t see laser removal as competition,” claims Sketch. “Obviously it’s taking a tattoo away, but it actually helps us. It’s not someone saying they don’t want a tattoo, it’s just they don’t want that one there.
“Plus, if you laser it a little bit and fade it, you can always go over the top with a new one. It’s like a rubber to pencil.”
Throughout the series, tattoos renovated by the Tattoo Fixers team include such inky abominations as a crude drawing of someone’s mother, several penises, and a smiley face around a man’s nipple.
Doug McCallum from Newcastle – owner of the latter – challenged a barmaid to a game of pool while on holiday with his male friends. If he won, she promised to give him a kiss. If he lost, he’d have to get a tattoo of her choosing.
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“I went back to show her,” says McCallum, 20, “and although she was impressed – I still didn’t get the girl.”
Despite tattoo transformations providing a great source of income, Sketch and Hutton – along with tattoo artists throughout the UK – are keen to promote a process of research for customers who want a tattoo. Examples include trawling your artist’s back catalogue and following them on social media.
And though tattoos might not possess quite the same counter cultural edge they had in years gone by (the artists admit to inking “young, old and everything in between”), the tattoo trend might actually date back further than you’d think.
Original source: www.telegraph.co.uk