As a smidgeon of sun shines Londoners begin to bare their arms and legs and one notices just how many people have tattoos. Small and discreet leaves or scripts on ankles, shoulders and wrists or blockbusting full arms and backs, the likelihood is there are more in unseen body parts that remain under clothes.

Tattoos are enjoying a growth spurt, both commercially and creatively, tattoos can be tongue to toe and everything in between, or evenon top of bald heads. One individual has a full body multi-coloured tattoo of a samurai slaying a salamander, mindful of jobs interviews not appreciating the scales, the neck and hands remain untouched so when in a shirt and pants no one would ever know of the artistic conflict beneath. Tattoos have transcended the age and class demographic and have become as universally acceptable as make-up. It is almost de rigueur in the fashion world to have a discreet tattoo; real or trompe l’oeil tattoos on both men and women are familiar on the catwalk, glossy magazines feature tattooed cover girls. Tattoo designs have even occurred on leather accessories.

The next phase will be entirely black body parts with the introduction white ink designs over black, geometrics and abstracts are increasingly edgy

Kelly Gorman, who has a reputation second to none, comments “media and television have opened people minds to the possibilities of tattoos”. Gorman was an artistic child and following her first tattoo of a flower at 18 years, she realised being a tattooist was her dream job. She prefers feminine motifs for herself, flowers butterflies, owls, swans and her children’s birthstones. Her clients travel up to four hours for an appointment, Gorman specialises in realistic black and grey images such as lions and tigers, she has also reproduced a lifelike chocolate Labrador; her clients come with their own idea and leave the creative interpretation to her. Typically a full back design could take up to 30+ hours depending on the details, about 5 or 6 four hour sessions.

There is no official qualification for tattooists but an inspection from the local Council expects high standards of hygiene and results in a licence to practise, Gorman says “to avoid risks I use all disposable equipment”.Gorman notices that the vogue for multicolour “watercolour” effect tattoos, that are indistinguishable from watercolour paintings, is already in full force. There are definitely trends in the tattoo hemisphere, this week Chester Lee of Oracle in Singapore posted a daring “blackout” tattooon Instagram, a scalloped neckline cropped top and armbands inked in solid black on a beautiful girl, the image went viral. The “blackout” has now arrived, large parts of the body are inked in solid black, a T-shirt shape or black leggings are popular, even a laced black bodice for the seductress. Gorman suggests the next phase will be entirely black body parts with the introduction white ink designs over black, geometrics and abstracts are increasingly edgy. Tattoo is a complete world with hundreds of tattoo conventions held over the year for families in and around the trade, Gorman’s choice is Tattoo Freeze has been held in Telford, Shropshireevery year since 2010; artists enjoy seeing each other’s work and awards are given in eight categories ranging from Oriental to Avant-Garde.


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