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Clothed-Unclothed NSFW Photo Series Gets Under The Ink Of The Heavily Tattooed
By Yoon Sann Wong, 15 May 2018
“I was 16 and got a small lizard on my hip. My parents said, ‘How would I ever get a job!’” James Robinson, 33, Brighton. Image by Alan Powdrill and featured with permission
In a twist on its title, ‘COVERED’ invites heavily tattooed individuals in the UK to strip down in public and bare their body art designs, all in an attempt to challenge your perception.
Between 2015 and 2018, Alan Powdrill has been documenting the rise of tattoo culture in the UK through portraits and uncovering more about those addicted to ink.
“As a photographer I’ve always been visually intrigued by tattoos. My middle England upbringing meant very little exposure to rebels or mutiny; those who dared to change their appearance so drastically and permanently were attractive and exciting to me,” Powdrill explains to DesignTAXI.
The clothed and unclothed juxtapositions challenge the viewer’s change in perception; before and after one becomes exposed to these tattoos that are vital to the wearer’s identity.
“How does the way we view these people change when we discover the ink on their skin beneath? Do we change our attitude to the housewife when we discover a huge tiger across her back and bum? Is the suited civil servant seen differently after the massive skull on his chest is revealed?” questions Powdrill.
The photographer explains that the project was inspired by documentarians such as Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra and American photographer-cum-filmmaker Katy Grannan, as well as Helmut Newton’s ‘Sie Kommen (Naked and Dressed)’ 1981 prints.
Accompanying each pair of images is a quote from the photo subject that sheds more light on their personal tattoos and story.
Featured directly below is Stefano Vega, Powdrill’s very first model for this series. If you’re wondering how difficult it was to get Vega to don his birthday suit in public, Powdrill describes him as “a total dude of a guy who didn’t take much convincing.”
As for Victoria Clarke, who’s featured directly after, Powdrill explains that her sheer dedication blew his mind. “She is working on her third body suit front and back. Each time she has lazered off the original tattoos and then had a brand new tattoo done over the top. Amazing!”
While Powdrill doesn’t have any tattoos of his own yet, the photographer pledges to get one should his COVERED photo book—currently funding on Kickstarter—becomes a reality.
Though ‘COVERED’ was born in the UK, Powdrill hasn’t ruled out plans to take this series to other parts of the world.
“I would love to but it depends on how well the UK book does first. Like all labours of love, the time and effort put into this project is fairly exhausting, but I’d love to shoot people all over the world for Covered.”
“I pretty much love every inch of my skin for different reasons, but I love my back because I’ve been waiting for 17 years to get it done, and it’s come out exactly as I wanted it.” Stefano Chila, 33, London. Image by Alan Powdrill and featured with permission
“My tattoos are part of who I am and I’ll always love my bodysuit now and when I’m 80. The respect and love I get for what I look like is what it’s all about.” Victoria Clarke, 37, Coventry. Image by Alan Powdrill and featured with permission
“They’re an expression of my journey through life, as my body ages they take on a different appearance, ask me in 30 years how I feel.” Matthew Morris, 48, London. Image by Alan Powdrill and featured with permission
“I love being different and everyday I’m asked about them at least once always getting a positive reaction. Good tattoos aren’t cheap, cheap tattoos are not good.” Izzy Nash, 48, Maidstone. Image by Alan Powdrill and featured with permission
“I’m beyond the stopping point now. It fucking hurts like shit man but I wouldn’t change my look for the world.” Unsal Mustafa, 46, Hastings. Image by Alan Powdrill and featured with permission
“I’m loving how they change as my body gets older and the creases and wrinkles change how they look When I’ve got no space below my neck I’ll stop.” Ness Watson, 40, Crawley. Image by Alan Powdrill and featured with permission
“Me mum wasn’t happy at all about the swallow on my hand so I said, ‘Look mum it’s not like I’m on the street doing drugs or heroin.’” Alex Coates, 49, Whitby. Image by Alan Powdrill and featured with permission
[all images by Alan Powdrill and featured with permission]
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