tall. short. fat. thin. young. old. shouldn’t a canvas come in just about any shape, size or age?
that’s exactly the thing that struck us when we stumbled upon the work of UK based photographer – alan powdrill. in his photo essay titled ‘covered’, he went all over the country shooting people and their tattoos.
but it really isn’t what you expect. these tattoos aren’t just a lonesome one or two on the back or on the bicep. the people in this series are covered in tattoos. many of them from head to toe.
every one of the people shot in this series has also given a brief lil story about the art on their bodies.
we caught up with alan and had a chat with him on his series. here is what he had to say.
coq: What was your inspiration behind the concept?
alan: i’m a big fan of fashion photography for it’s creative ideas and techniques. i was looking at helmut newton’s famous serious of clothed and naked models shot in the same poses. I thought this might be a really interesting way to shoot real people and their amazing body art.
coq: who was the first person you shot for the series? and how did you convince him/her?
alan: stefano vega was the first model, such a total dude of a guy who didn’t take much convincing. he was very brave getting totally naked in public but i love the result.
coq: who was the most memorable person you shot for the series? and why?
alan: all the characters i shot were memorable for different reasons but graham platt stands out. such a lovely unassuming man who has this incredible full body artwork beneath that you would never suspect.
coq: was there any particular tattoo design that stood out from the entire series? what was the story behind it?
alan: not so much a design but the sheer dedication of victoria clarke blew my mind. she is working on her 3rd 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!
coq: do you have a tattoo? if yes, what is it? if no, would you consider getting one and what would the design look like?
alan: no i don’t….interestingly enough. i have pledged to myself that i will get one if the book becomes a reality. what the tattoo will look like i’m not sure yet but watch this space!
coq: are there plans in cover other countries in the ‘covered’ series?
alan: 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’.
coq: one final question. was there an experience or an incident during this entire process that really left a mark on you?
alan: passion! all the people shot for the project had an underlying passion for their body art. I really love anyone who has a passion for anything, especially if it’s visual and in front of my lens.
alan currently has a kickstarter campaign to raise funds to turn this series into a beautiful photo-book. here are a few of the photographs that caught our eye from his series. you can follow alan’s work on his website, on facebook and on twitter.
“my tattoos are part of who i am and i’ll always love my bodysuit now and when i’m 80. the love i get for what i look like is what it’s all about.” victoria, 37, coventry
“as long as i get to the toilet and piss on my own, i don’t care what i look like when i’m older. i never intended to get this many but i had an addictive personality.” simon, 47, london
“they have given me confidence in life since my crohn’s illness, i will love them in the future like i do now” peter, 38
“my first tattoo was at 13 and was a secret for 10 years. it’s a part of me and i’m never going to get old.” patrick, 34, brighton
“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, 40, crawley
“can’t say what age i’ll stop. while there’s still space to fill, it’ll get filled. i don’t think my attitude will ever change” michelle, 53
“i don’t feel my opinion will change on my tattoos, i doubt i’ll have any regrets regardless of my age.” lillianna, 23, hackney
“my kiss tattoos are my favourites, the pain was incredible but it feels good to show my ultimate dedication to the band.” kimmy, 29, ruislip
“i love my tattoos, it’s a way of life and part of me. i’ll carry on getting them for as long as i can” kenny, 27
“i was 16 and got a small lizard on my hip. my parents said ‘how would i ever get a job !’ ” james, 33, brighton
“i love being different and everyday i’m asked about them. good tattoos aren’t cheap, cheap tattoos are not good.” izzy, 48, maidstone
“i was 51 when i started and my father was already dead and my mum didn’t say anything as she was in the early stages of dementia” graham, 58, cleethorpes
“i started in 1963 when i was 14 and i don’t think i’ll ever stop.” dave, 66, leyton
“if i ever forget who i am i take my clothes off and look in the mirror and find out who i am again.” chris, 25, coventry
“i love the fact i’m middle aged, have a professional job, am surrounded by straight people and i have ‘no fucking way’ tattooed on my chest” bill, 59
“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 heroin” alex, 49, whitby