30,000 tattoo lovers head for London Convention—but the feeling’s just skin deep

Biggest tattoo festival in Europe is coming back to Wapping's Tobacco Dock. Picture: London Tattoo C

Biggest tattoo festival in Europe is coming back to Wapping's Tobacco Dock. Picture: London Tattoo Convention - Credit: LTC

Britain’s oldest tattooist is hanging up his needles for the last time after 70 years when he takes part in the three-day London Tattoo convention at Wapping’s Tobacco Dock.

15th annual convention takes place in Wapping over three days, Sept 27-29. Picture: Mark Leaver

15th annual convention takes place in Wapping over three days, Sept 27-29. Picture: Mark Leaver - Credit: Mark Leaver

The 86-year-old Doc Price retires on September 29, when this year's tattoo convention closes.

One of the 30,000 members of the public expected to queue to get in will be his lucky final customer.

Doc, whose reputation is a cut above others in the profession, has spent seven decades running his needles to decorate somewhere between 28 and 40 acres of human skin since 1949. He is now one of the 400 most influential tattoo artists in the world.

The London Tattoo extravaganza this year includes a hotbed of live entertainment and sheer showmanship.

It's no mug's game as one tattoo fan spikes up his facial image. Picture: London Tattoo Convention

It's no mug's game as one tattoo fan spikes up his facial image. Picture: London Tattoo Convention - Credit: LTC


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A half-pipe skating ramp is being set up with demos from pro riders, champion UK skaters and a special appearance from skateboarding legend Steve Olson, with a chance for the public to get free skate lessons throughout the weekend.

Tattoos also come to life from hand-poked Japanese 'tebori', authentic Polynesian tribal and hyper-realistic portraiture and intricate bodysuits.

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Tattoos are being judged in daily competitions with a public vote for the People's Choice award. Renowned guest judges include Mark Mahoney, tipped as the 'king' of black and grey inker who can create photo-lifelike classic images of famous faces like David Beckham and Johnny Depp, and Swiss artist Filip Leu.

Among tattoo artists taking part is Jondix Jondix, 50, who runs his Seven Doors salon in Shadwell, barely a needle's throw from Tobacco Dock.

Toka Voodoo complete with his all-body tatto design. Picture: Mark Leaver

Toka Voodoo complete with his all-body tatto design. Picture: Mark Leaver - Credit: Mark Leaver

"Respect tradition," he advises. "Don't get fooled by Instagram 'likes' or good looking tattooists. Learn about art and talk to many before choosing."

Jondix has tattooed 10,000 people since he started when he was 18, often on the palms of hands, occasionally "in intimate parts", he tells you.

Live entertainment includes breathtaking aerial and fire performances from the Fuel Girls, Japanese rope bondage shows from Figure of A and live music from The Quireboys, Never the Bride, Hell's Bells and Urban Voodoo Machine.

The 15th anniversary London Tattoo Convention at Tobacco Dock in Wapping Lane, off The Highway, is on September 27, 28 and 29, with a flood of 30,000 visitors expected. Doors open at 11am.

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