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Hammer goes to the London Tattoo Convention

Last weekend the tenth annual London Tattoo Convention set up shop at the very trendy (and maze-like) Tattoo Dock. We sent resident hairy freelancer and photographer John 'Big John' Woolford out to check it out.

Heavy metal has had a long history with inky flesh. Let’s face it, your favourite band or artist probably has a portion of their skin covered and we’ve all got that mate with a band tatt – from the Slipknot ’S’ to the Motorhead Snaggletooth, these emblems are worn with pride on arms, chests and legs around the world in affinity with their heroes.

Of course some people take it further and dedicate their lives to inking themselves up.

Step inside the London Tattoo Convention and you’re met with hundreds of enthusiasts covered in tattoos and body mods (Hellboy hasn’t got shit on some of these guys) grooving to the sound of that blooding buzzing needle. The biggest and best names in skin art are here to show off their work and expand their ‘portfolio’ on new bodies looking for that extra addition to their skin.

Of course, like heavy metal, it’s not always serious business. From the dude with the homage to Eastenders on his stomach to the ‘Tattoos Suck And So Do You’ there’s a definite pierced-tongue-in-cheek attitude amongst everyone here who don’t just get a tattoo to ‘look hard’ but express themselves creatively. Y’know, like metal bands do. Hell – we used to have our regular Tatt’s Life feature in Metal Hammer magazine and the stories behind some of those were often as personal as they were ridiculous. Which is why we love ‘em.

Luke Morton