Telford all abuzz again as Tattoo Freeze returns for 12th year
Telford's Tattoo Freeze brought enthusiasts and artists from across the country to the town for a two-day celebration of ink, art and culture.
Now a staple in many calendars, the annual convention that began in 2009 returned to the Telford International Centre on February 4 and 5 to celebrate the rich history of getting inked and the alternative culture that embraces it.
Whether it was to add to a collection, browse for inspiration or take the plunge with a new tattoo, thousands of visitors gathered at the centre for Telford Tattoo Freeze's 12th year.
Lauren Heath, 31, from Telford, was visiting the convention for the first time and said: "There's a load of different styles of tattooists, I've been to other ones and they've been very much one style - but at the Telford one, there are loads of different styles of art and loads of different artists. There's plenty of choice."
Live music, vehicle displays, tattoo competitions and a huge selection of alternative traders packed out the massive hall that was alive with a buzz of something else besides tattoo guns.
"The atmosphere's amazing," Lizzie Phelps, 23 and from Walsall, said: "I think people will probably think these kind of events are scary, full of scary people, but it's one of the most friendly conventions you'll go to."
With a quarter of Britons now sporting body art (according to a recent YouGov survey), Virgin Atlantic changing tattoo regulations for their cabin crew last year, and police forces across the country relaxing their policies on visible ink, it's obvious now more than ever that tattoos have escaped the realms of alternative.
Tattoos may now be more pop culture than subculture, but at Tattoo Freeze, the alternative label is still embraced, celebrated and valued.
The welcoming, judgement-free atmosphere promised each year brings many loyal visitors from all walks of life together with a shared passion for the weird and wonderful.