Body art takes center stage in London

Reuters | Reuters Photo: Stefan Wermuth
1 of 9 To full screen

The body as canvas

Tattoo artists and ink lovers flock to the ninth International London Tattoo Convention. The three-day event hosts more than 300 tattoo artists. See gallery

Depending on the culture and the era, tattoos have been taboo or mainstream. In some ancient societies, nearly all members sported some form of body art. In the modern West, tattooing was once mostly restricted to sailors, artists and others who considered themselves counterculture. But today, tattoos are very mainstream in the US, Europe and parts of Asia. A 2012 poll found that 1 of 5 adult Americans now has at least one tattoo.

In late September, tattoo aficionados from around the globe descend on London for an international convention of exhibitions, musical performances and parties. And yes, some attendees will get fresh ink courtesy of the 300-plus tattoo artists on hand.

In this photo: Jade Allison displays her tattoo-covered upper body during the London convention on Sept. 27.

Reuters Photo: Stefan Wermuth
2 of 9 To full screen

Getting inked

What do people do at a tattoo convention? Well, many of them get new tattoos, usually in front of a large audience. Creig Masson is tattooed by Lianne Moule at the London event on Sept. 27.  

Reuters Photo: Stefan Wermuth
3 of 9 To full screen

Word tattoos

Knuckle tattoos often spell out words when the hands are put together. Oliver displays his hands in London on Sept. 27.

Reuters Photo: Stefan Wermuth
4 of 9 To full screen

Body modification

Beyond tattoos, another form of body art is scarring or scarification. With tattoos, ink is injected under the skin with needles. For scarring, the skin is cut or branded to leave permanent marks. Moniasse, who was at the London show on Sept. 27, has both tattoos and body scars.

Reuters Photo: Stefan Wermuth
5 of 9 To full screen

Head tattoos

Only for the extremely dedicated, nothing is more visible than a tattoo on the head or face. Jakub attended the London convention on Sept. 27.

Reuters Photo: Stefan Wermuth
6 of 9 To full screen

Neck tattoos

Some people with tattoos prefer to keep them on parts of the body that can be covered with clothing. But neck tattoos have become more popular in the US in recent years. Cleo was at the London show on Sept. 27.

Reuters Photo: Stefan Wermuth
7 of 9 To full screen

Tattoos everywhere

Matt Grosso's head tattoo is only fully visible from above ... and if his head is cleanly shaved.

Reuters Photo: Stefan Wermuth
8 of 9 To full screen

Under the needle

Emil is tattooed by tattoo artist Deno in London on Sept. 27.

9 of 9