Pictures: Thousands at docks to see walking canvasses as tattoo convention hits

PUBLISHED: 13:08 01 October 2013 | UPDATED: 13:08 01 October 2013

A tattooist works at London Tattoo Convention

A tattooist works at London Tattoo Convention


Tattoos have seen their popularity skyrocket in recent years as celebrities from football icon David Beckham to pop superstar Rhianna have put their body art on display to the world.

Chris BerteChris Berte

For some, “getting inked” has a tribal or spiritual connection, for others the process has an addictive quality and sees them turn their bodies into a tapestry, but for yet more still, getting a “tat” is just plain cool.

Last weekend saw some 20,000 tattoo enthusiasts and artists descend on London’s Docklands to revel in and share the art that has literally become a part of them.

The main attraction? The ninth International London Tattoo Convention, one of the most prestigious annual body art conventions in the world, held at Tobacco Dock, Shadwell, and run by organisers Tattoo Life Magazine.

Chris Berté, 23, was among the many walking canvasses showing off unique designs.

Curator Marion Thill with some of the artists from the Art of Tattoo exhibition in Trinity Buoy Wharf. Picture: Isabel InfantesCurator Marion Thill with some of the artists from the Art of Tattoo exhibition in Trinity Buoy Wharf. Picture: Isabel Infantes

He has won awards for his single piece “body suit” called the Meaning of Life: Zion Farytale which covers all of his chest, back and arms — including his armpits — and has taken more than two years and £10,000 so far.

“It’s my masterpiece. When I’m old, if I have Alzheimers, I will take my clothes off and look in the mirror and know who I am again,” said Chris, from Leamington Spa.

Also on show was exhibition The Art of Tattoo at Trinity Buoy Wharf, East India Docks, which brought body art of a maritime theme to an area that would have played host to a throng of tattooed seamen in its not too distant past.

Co-curated by Gray Hunter, along with Luxembourgers Marion Thill and Dan Vinkowski, visitors saw the work of international artists laid out on everything from traditional canvas to skateboards, and of course skin.

Baz BlackBaz Black

The more adventurous could even have a virtual emblem emblazoned onto them using a camera.

For Marion, having owned a tattoo shop for two decades, what draws people towards getting a tattoo is simple. “Everybody wants to be different and everybody wants to stick out of the mass of people,” he said.

“Some people try to shock with their first tattoo but often when you are young or a teenager you want to shock your parents.”

And certainly, regardless of their booming popularity, tattoos still have the capacity to cause shock and amazement among many.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East London Advertiser. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the East London Advertiser