Addicted to the needle
By Jason Reed and Larry Downing
The tattoo is as ancient as time itself.
Born out of man’s desire to draw more than straight, simple lines, today’s tattoos have evolved into beautiful interpretations by savvy artists that bend those old lines into colorful masterpieces etched onto a virgin canvas of skin with sharp needles and bright inks. Lifetimes of stories of hard love, or high adventures archived onto an arm, a leg, or for that matter, anywhere skin lives for curious eyes to enjoy forever.
The hobby of collecting tattoos has exploded into the mainstream. Look around and you’ll find them worn by anyone…. and anywhere. Annual conventions and competitions are held freely inside luxury hotels instead of hidden from view. Tattoos are even stars of their own reality television shows.
Reuters Senior photographers Jason Reed and Larry Downing traveled across the country recently to attend two different tattoo conventions in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and Cincinnati, Ohio, while working on a multimedia project entitled, “Addicted to the Needle” which opens a window into the private world and the culture of tattooing. First up was the Hampton Roads Tattoo Festival and then the National Tattoo Association’s 33rd annual convention. Both walked out of those gatherings realizing tattoos are no longer the stamp indicating someone to be a tramp, or a biker outlaw, but instead a lover of beautiful art and personal expression.
However, the freedom of expression comes with a steep price and should be considered before making that tattoo appointment. There’s no magic eraser…once in…all in….