Extreme tattoos and body modification are edgy and unique ways of expressing one's individuality. And that's why tattoo fans trade paper and canvas for skin. Because many see permanent inking as an identity. And designs often range from small images to intricate sleeves. But British tattoo artist Eli Ink has taken all that to the extreme. Because he's got a truly unique and brand of tattoo art. Eli Ink is deep into his ongoing quest to cover his entire body with black ink. And it's clear the 24-year-old artist isn't ashamed of his arresting image. Because why should he be? It rules.
Meet Eli Ink
Eli Ink is a 27-year-old tattoo artist from Brighton, England. According to Ink, his extreme body modifications are merely an extension of his deep-rooted appreciation for art. "I've always been blown away by art itself," he said. "Picasso is a huge childhood inspiration to me, especially abstract art, but I do like all forms of art. Body art was just the next local step for me growing up."
Eli Ink has spent the last ten years covering every inch of his body with several layers of dark black ink by undergoing a number of incredibly painful and time consuming tattoo/ink rubbing sessions. When pressed about the reason behind his decision to completely transform his body, Ink argued that in defense of self-expression. "I wanted to look like an abstract character in one of Picasso's paintings," he said. I love the abstract look- no thought, just pure expression."
Along with his expansive tattoos, Ink has also used piercings as a medium to further his body modification goals. Implanting stretchers in his lips, nose and ears, Ink distorted his features in a bid to inch one step closer to his desired tribal appearance. "I am currently inventing myself into my own version of a tribe--I have always had a huge interest in tribe cultures around the world, and this was just another stepping stone into my dream."
Pushing the limits of what his body can handle, Ink even agreed to undergo the extremely risky process of having the whites of his eyes tattooed. "That's the risk you take letting anyone near your eyes, even trained surgeons can make a mistake. Body modification is a risk takers lifestyle," he admitted.
According to the 27-year-old tattoo artist infamous for his unique appearance, criticism from strangers will not halt his quest to become the ultimate abstract art piece. "The best is always nice compliments, that's always nice to hear, either from tattoo collectors or just passers-by," he explained. "The worst is always the older generation looking down on you and making you feel worthless."
It's A Lifestyle
Harboring an undying respect for both his craft and the artform itself, Ink has tasked himself with mastering lobe reconstruction, tattooing, ear pointing and scarification. "I will never be finished," he said. "It will take me the rest of my life to finish my studies but I am dedicating the rest of my life to body modification and perfecting my work."
Eli Ink isn't the only extreme tattoo enthusiast that opts to wear their art on their skin (and eyes). 39-year-old Rodrigo Fernando dos Santos of Sao Paul, Brazil also underwent the extremely risky sclera tattoo procedure. In a scene more fitting for a horror movie than real life, dos Santos admitted that he "cried ink for two days" after the procedure was completed.
Not surprisingly, sclera modification (the injection of dye in order to stain one's eyeballs) can be accompanied by serious medical complications. After opting to receive the risky procedure, body modification model Cat Gallinger was left with a distorted eye and blurry vision. Gallinger now refers to the procedure as a "huge mistake."
The Vampire Woman
Mexican lawyer-turned-video jockey Maria Cristerna now boasts an apperance fitting of her nickname--The Vampire Lady. With head-to-toe-tattoos, dental fangs and titanium devil horns, Cristerna has no qualms about transforming into the person/deity she believes she was meant to be. "Many almost worship her and take her blessings like she is some kind of goddess with mystical powers," said a source close to Cristerna.
Dubbed the Human Checkerboard by tattoo enthusiasts, Matt Gone travels the world to showcase his extreme body modification. Like both Ink and dos Santos, Gone had his eyes injected with ink to compliment the expansive tattoos covering 95 percent of his skin. The main difference? Gone carried out the risky procedure on HIMSELF.