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My Story

Cape Town, South Africa, some years in the past: In theory I am doing research for my university theses “Emerging Democracies in Third-World Countries” and “Cultural Interference in Second-Language Acquisition”. In practice, I am working as a receptionist in Derek Baker’s “Metal Machine” tattoo shop, getting a backpiece by Derek, trying to find out if I, too, could be a tattooist. Unfortunately I am not much of a drawing talent, average at best. 
Quite often Coloured gangsters come into the shop – intimidating to look at with their bad reputation; dangerous contract killers some of them, heavily tattooed, but still respectful in the presence of a tattoo artist. They are telling stories of their life in the city jungle and are proud to pose for my camera. Their tattoos? Tribal sign of identity and trophy at the same time. 
Meanwhile, Dirk-Boris, an old friend from school, has become editor of TätowierMagazin, Germany’s biggest tattoo mag. He encourages me: Do an article for us! This is great stuff! 
I oblige, and shortly after, my first feature comes out. 
On my return to Germany, I realise, I don’t want to become a high-school teacher anymore, journalism it is. Work and travel? What more do I want? Other magazines are printing my stuff. Writing is fun for me, coming to me easily; my photography (taught to me by a friend, a well-known South African artist) seems to appeal to people as well. 
It is great to travel around the world without a safety net. Borneo is next, then the US – not my taste, too easy, sterile and definitely not “free” – I prefer my trips to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, Samoa, New Zealand, Hawai’i, then Bosnia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Egypt, Tunisia, West Africa, Tanzania, Palestine, Jordan, Israel and so many more… 
I am fascinated by tribal culture, its connection to modern subculture and tattooing: Getting the mark of identity, sign of the group and of the individual at the same time. The cultural roots of body art are so obvious but still poorly researched, while they are dying out everywhere. Time to record them! I like the thrill of the calculated risk of traveling to exotic locations as well, negotiating with rebels about safe passage or just the price for a photograph, braving rides on third-world trains, buses, trucks, camels, donkeys, elephants, canoes, speedboats… It’s a kick other people seek when they go bungee-jumping, and certainly safer than drugs. 
But tattoo conventions are fun, too, seeing old friends, making new ones; doing interviews with well-known or aspiring artists is an experience in itself. 
My first book “Everything about Body Piercing” has been published in German language already, others, about traditional tattooing all over the world are in their planning stage. 
I know I am privileged to have a profession that is my favourite pastime as well. Traveling is my passion, and that’s why a line from Metallica’s song “Wherever I may roam” is my motto now: 
“Wherever I lay my head is home!” 

See you somewhere on this exciting planet…
Travelin’ Mick
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>Gangsters in Cape Town 
>Rabari Tattoo
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>Facial Tattoo in China
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