New East Digital Archive

Tattoo kids: if you’re a true ink junkie, you start when you’re young

1 July 2016

Polish-born photographer Lola Paprocka got her first tattoo aged 15, though she admits she’d been obsessed with them since she was a kid. She started managing tattoo studios in London in her late teens — a love affair that has gone on to last a whole decade. “A few years ago I was gifted a whole bunch of old magazines from the 1980s and 90s by a random customer who came to one of the shops I was working at. I found photographs from tattoo conventions inserted between the pages of Piercing World and Body Art. I thought they would make a great zine, but I wanted to make it a little more personal,” Paprocka explains. Tattoo Kids is a playful photo book that brings together found images from two worlds: western counterculture and conservative Poland as it was transitioning from communism. The photos were shot on similar point-and-shoot cameras in the same decade, between 1987 – 1997, and some of the family snapshots were taken by Paprocka herself. “When I was a kid I loved to take a lot of pictures of my little brother. He is six years younger than me and we used to play dress-up. Either my mum or I would take photos of the ‘final looks’. Now looking back at our family photos I can see that my parents had a good sense of humour,” Paprocka reflects. On whether tattoos are a form of dress-up, the photographer says: “I never thought of tattoos as dress-up, but it is definitely a way of decorating the body, much in the same way that costumes are a means of expression for some people. I think everyone who is heavily tattooed holds a different story and reasons behind them. I’ve personally never taken tattoos too seriously and have my fair share of silly ones.”