Chris Woodhead Has Found A Way To Cope With The Coronavirus Pandemic: A New Tattoo On His Own Body For Every Day Of The Lockdown
Sitting on the sofa in his flat in Walthamstow, north-east London, with his dog Pingu by his side, Chris Woodhead is trying to find space to add another tattoo to his already crowded body.
There is little unmarked skin left – from the tips of his fingers to the soles of his feet, almost every inch is covered in a vast jumble of tattoos of different styles. A pair of dice have fallen just before the toes of his right foot begin, a scorpion extends down his inner thigh, there’s a leaning palm tree, a swordfish arching around a love-heart, and a voodoo doll floats above some ripe, glossy cherries.
At the beginning of the lockdown, Chris had around 1,000 designs on his body. Now he has 40 more and counting. When the east London tattoo studio where he works as an artist closed in the lockdown, he went into isolation with his pregnant wife, Ema, and decided to add one new tattoo per day for as long as it continued.
“I found myself pottering around, not knowing what to do and eating all the food in the cupboards,” Chris says. “So the idea of tattooing myself every day was to give myself a bit of direction. Without structure people are at a complete loss.”
“It’s like you have a quill that you dip into a pot of ink, but you’re only able to dot it into the skin,” Chris says. “It’s really, really difficult to be precise – each dot matters – and it takes quite a lot longer than working with a tattoo gun.”
But he’s also mindful that he must save a space on his body to tattoo the name of his new child when it arrives. So he’s been calculating how much tattoo-less skin he has left to continue his lockdown project.