We are moving of?ces today, so I am packing up the massive amounts of stuff that we have somehow accumulated during our time in the of?ce we are vacating. The removal van arrives at 10am so I just have time to make some phone calls.
I ring a publisher to chat about a book project I might be involved with, all a bit hush-hush at the moment. I also call back a television company which has contacted me looking for heavily tattooed contestants for an upcoming television show.
By 12.30pm we are off to the new of?ces, located in a small town just outside London. It will be strange not working in London but, as I have recently moved to the Essex countryside, the commute to work will be half the distance (and half the cost!).
I head off to Cheltenham for the Mantra Festival of Body Art. I try to attend all of the dozen or so tattoo conventions held around the UK during the year.
Mantra is one of the biggest, with upwards of 6,000 visitors over the two days. Renowned tattoo artists are invited from all over the UK and around the world to showcase their work and tattoo eager visitors.
Skin Deep has a stand at the convention, selling copies of the magazine and a range of T-shirts. It is also a great opportunity for our readers to come and meet us.
I chat to so many people at various events during the year that I feel I know virtually all our readers by name.
The second day of the Mantra Festival, which is held at the racecourse.
A large part of my day is taken up with judging the tattoo competition.
To outsiders, this would look like a very strange affair indeed, with three judges peering closely at various unclothed, but heavily inked body parts.
Winners are chosen in categories such as best female sleeve and best male small! Tattoos are, of course, for life and not just for winning trophies.
However, many proud tattoo collectors and their talented artists enjoy entering contests, especially at a prestigious, international event such as Mantra.
It’s my ?rst full day in the new of?ce and I’m still surrounded by boxes waiting to be unpacked.
I go through the mountain of post from the past few days. Such is the nature of niche magazines that secretaries and editorial assistants are nonexistent in my world, so I have to deal with all the mail myself.
Much of it consists of packs of photos sent in by tattoo studios, hoping to get their work published. Seeing photos of excellent tattoos by top artists and exciting, innovative tattoo work by an up-and-coming new talent always excites me.
In the afternoon I catch up with the work on our November issue.
Deadline is not until 18 September, so we have the luxury of a little time on our side.
Much of the content of Skin Deep is produced by regular freelances, all with a passion for tattoos and in-depth knowledge of the international tattoo scene.
I proof an article about tattooed Berber women of North Africa, written by a guy known as “Travellin’ Mick”, a talented and heavily tattooed German photojournalist. He has the knack of rooting out the most fascinating stories of disappearing or barely accessible tattoo cultures around the world such as prison gangs in South Africa or head-hunter tribes of the Philippines.
I write an editorial of about 1,000 words each month, always with a tattoo angle. I must admit that, on more than one occasion, I have sat in front of my computer, on the day before deadline, thinking “what on earth can I write about this month?” I have faith, however, and the inspiration always comes.
This morning I get an idea from a conversation I had at the Mantra Festival, and I write the editorial about tattooed people with partners who hate tattoos. A thought-provoking editorial (often with a bit of controversy thrown in), ensures a brimming postbag and I do enjoy ?ring up the readers into a meaty discussion via our letters page.
Oh, for an occasional extra member of staff. The mail piles in again, the e-mails crowd the inbox and the phone rings off the hook.
It’s great that the magazine generates so much interest, but with a fulltime team of just two (myself and art editor/ designer Perry Rule) it does get a bit hectic at times.
Much of the post today consists of replies to a readers’ questionnaire that we published in our recent 100th issue. These take time to read through, but the feedback in them is invaluable.
We lap up the praise, take note of the constructive criticism and completely ignore the complaints.
This afternoon I go out to do an interview with an up-and-coming tattooist in his studio. I love getting out “into the ?eld” as it were.
Sometimes, when I am chatting to someone like John, a retired bank manager with 500 piercings or watching a guy called Lucky, tattooed black from head to toe, juggling machetes while riding a 14-foot high unicycle, it does strike me that I do a unique job.