Updated: Mar 31, 2020

My skin art was a punishment.

I wanted to hurt. I wanted to actually feel something. I wanted to bleed.

I hate needles. Needles have been a constant in my nightmares since childhood. Even as a heroin addict I could not watch people use needles. Needless to say I was a bit of a shit smackhead.

I got tattoos when drugs were taken from me.

I got tattoos when you were taken from me. You can only sleep inside my dreams.

I got tattoos when I stopped crying.

I got tattoos to feel the guilt of abandoning you forever.

I got tattoos to never forget you.

My tattoos mean my blood and skin are now scarred with love.

written by shelley


Updated: Mar 31, 2020

I had my first tattoo at the age of 11. It was on the day that I first bunked off school, instead of going to school I went round my friend's house whose parents both worked, we had the place to ourselves. His brother arrived home with his home made tattoo kit, a bottle of black Indian ink, a pack of needles, and a reel of cotton.

I was intrigued and became a very enthusiastic volunteer to have a tattoo of a cross, as a good Catholic boy, that seemed like a good idea.

At the end of normal school time my friend and me went home to my house for tea. I told my mum I would not be coming home that evening as I was going to stay at my friend's house.

I didn’t stay at my friend’s house. My friend told his parents he would be staying at my house.

We spent the night roaming the streets. We broke into garden sheds and stole some bikes. The next morning I had to go home to get changed in to my school uniform to continue with the lie.

To my shock my father, who I had not seen since he ran off to his latest woman, was sat on the sofa in his paisley y-fronts. I was filthy and he told me to go and wash myself. I did wash my face and hands and quickly changed into my school uniform. I came downstairs and he shouted you haven’t washed and he lifted up my left sleeve of my school jumper. To his and my horror there underneath the grime was my new and scabby blue cross tattoo.

Then came the beating of my life which ended with him kicking me out the door screaming that if that fucking cross was still there when I came home he’d cut my fucking arm off.

That evening there was no ink left in the cross.

written by gary p


Updated: Mar 31, 2020

I was about 12 and me and 3 of my friends wanted to be in a gang. We all had the same tattoo on our ankle, done with ink and some needles we'd stolen from WH Smith.

Then when I was 13 or 14 I went to a grown up tattoo parlour using my friend's id and got a big dagger, a serpent and a skull going through them. It said Gary, born to lose.

After anytime that life got shit I felt I'd cursed myself. Prison, drugs, addiction, my failure at being a father, my failure at being a son, a brother. You know it was just a complete failure, a fuck up.

Then I realised that out of all the guys who got the same tattoo on our ankles that day, I was the only one left alive.

I started to think a little different. Am I really born to lose if they're all dead and I'm not?

Eventually I decided to do something with my life.

I went to rehab. When I left I realised two things. One, I was a winner, I weren't a loser. Two, I had to get rid of that tattoo on my arm, so I got it covered up.

I actually designed this myself. Now it depicts a journey rather than a self-fulfilling prophesy.

told by gary