When you spend over a month locked down in your home, barely interacting with the outside world, one could definitely end up comparing the situation to being in prison. One of the most popular tropes in any sort of prison movie is that image of an inmate, with nothing but time on his hands, marking each day with a scratch on a drab wall.
Chris Woodhead has taken inspiration from this and given it a far more creative spin. Each day of lockdown—all 44 days, so far—he has added a tattoo to his collection.
We spoke with Woodhead about how he's been spending his time, how tattooing has helped him keep sane and how he's able to block out the pain of hand poking his own foot.
Inked: Tell us a little bit about your background in tattooing. How long have you been working, where do you work, etc.
Chris Woodhead: I’ve been a tattoo enthusiast since a young age and collector for the last 15 years but only a professional tattooer for the last three years. I work from a studio in Hackney Wick (London) called Maria Paradise.
How many times had you tattooed yourself before this all started?
I started tattooing by practicing on myself and did 100 tattoos on my legs before I ever tattooed anyone else, so I’m pretty used to tattooing my own body!
What made you interested in hand poking as opposed to using a machine?
Hand poking was something I was interested in for a while. The application amazed me, because I found it insane to ever be able to get a clean tattoo just from poking by hand. It seemed impossible, so I wanted to become a master at it.
How is your lockdown going? Who are you with? Have you tattooed anybody else during the lockdown?
Lockdown is going OK for me. I’m with my wife, who is pregnant and who has zero tattoos. We are keeping ourselves as busy as possible.
Did you plan on doing this right as you went into lockdown? Or did you end up tattooing yourself out of boredom and figured, what the hell, let's keep it going?
I started the daily tattooing not truly knowing the seriousness of the situation, to be honest. I started it about a week before full lockdown in the UK, because with my wife being pregnant we wanted to be as careful as possible. Then it all got really gnarly, and before I knew it the daily tattooing became some structure to my day that I now need more than anything. I’d be lost without it now!
What number are you on currently? How many do you think you'll end up with?
I did number 44 today. I think I’ll get up to about 100 before I can start tattooing other people again. I’ll carry on until it’s done. I’ll know when it’s time.
Have you missed any days?
I haven’t missed a day, no. I’ve actually done a couple on some days but didn’t post them because they were just filler bits that weren’t that interesting.
Do you have a favorite that you've done so far?
My favorite is the NHS (National Health Service, the British health care system) one, by far. It’s heartbreaking that it’s taken a global pandemic for us to appreciate the health service in this country. I will wear it with pride for the rest of my life.
How fucking painful was the bottom of the foot tattoo?
The sole of my foot was fucked! But not as bad as the palms of the hands, man. I still have a couple of little spaces to fill in my palms that I’m gonna do in the next week.
Is it difficult to tattoo through the pain of being tattooed?
Generally the pain of hand poking is pretty bearable. Also, when I’m concentrating on making a good tattoo, in an awkward position, the pain gets lost along the way.
While we know that many tattooers start off by tattooing themselves, how is the process different than tattooing somebody else?
I started off tattooing myself, but in easy to reach places. Now I’m doing the backs of my legs and my sternum and shit and it’s pretty challenging. I’m looking forward to tattooing in the studio again with nice lights and tattoo beds, it will be a dream come true!
We love the "Tiger King" tattoo. Which leads us to the last, but very important question: Did Carole Baskin kill her husband?
Carole Baskin definitely killed her husband. That goddamn bitch!!! Haha.