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

A tattooist works at London Tattoo Convention

A tattooist works at London Tattoo Convention - Credit: Archant

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.

A tattooist works at London Tattoo Convention

A tattooist works at London Tattoo Convention - Credit: Archant

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.

Curator Marion Thill with some of the artists from the Art of Tattoo exhibition in Trinity Buoy Whar

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

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.

A tattooist works at London Tattoo Convention

A tattooist works at London Tattoo Convention - Credit: Archant

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.

A tattooist works at London Tattoo Convention

A tattooist works at London Tattoo Convention - Credit: Archant

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 Whar

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


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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.

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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.

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.

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