Inspiration comes from Cheryl Cole's bottom to David Beckham's back - tattoos on the rise in Truro
They have existed for thousands of years, but some people believe it was David Beckham who really made them popular.
In the UK tattoos used to be viewed with suspicion - as a badge of belonging to a dark underworld.
But now ink is everywhere - from Cheryl Cole’s bottom to the biceps of young professionals - and people in Truro are buying into its ever-rising popularity.
Karl Bowker is an award-winning tattoo artist who runs Kamikaze Ink in Truro’s New Bridge Street.
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He said: “Their popularity has increased infinitely. Celebrity tattoos are making the news - everyone knows Cheryl Cole has just had her bum tattooed.”
Karl sees a wide range of customers coming through the doors including managers of local businesses.
“Acceptance in the workplace has been a big thing,” he said. “People in authority have tattoos now whereas they didn’t used to.”
The number of tattoo parlours in Truro has gone from three in 2008 to seven now. Lionel Titchener, president of the Tattoo Club of Great Britain, said the number of shops nationwide had gone from 2,000 to more than 20,000 in the last ten years.
Karl carried out a two-year apprenticeship to learn his art and mostly creates his own designs based on ideas from customers.
Karl runs Kamikaze Ink with his wife Martha. A portrait of the movie legend Marilyn Monroe that Karl produced on her thigh won the best small black and grey tattoo award at the Plymouth Tattoo Convention last year.
Martha said: “You are changing the way your body looks for ever. It’s definitely addictive and I would not want to live my life as a non-tattooed person.”
Martha was only 15 when she got her first tattoo which was illegal at the time and remains so today. It’s against the law to give a tattoo to anyone under 18.
“My mum still hates it and she freaks out every time I get a new one,” said Martha.
Dan Jones from Redruth was in the chair at Kamikaze having more work done on his ‘sleeve’, tattoos that will cover his arm.
He said: “I had the first one when I was 18. It’s one of those things, you see different people and different designs and it just grows on you.
“I had the Celtic warrior done first then decided I wanted another one and now every tattoo is designed around the theme of the warrior.”
Dan has also had his son Benjamin’s name and date of birth incorporated into the design.
People with tattoos are often asked about the pain and for many it’s part of the process.
The areas that are most painful are the inside of the elbow, the back of the knee, armpits or other areas close to tendons.
Martha’s Marilyn Monroe tattoo took eight hours to complete.
Martha said: “It’s a mental experience going through pain for that long, but I do it because they are pretty, I would not want to have plain skin.”