Smallman Syndrome 191

Published: 19 October, 2010 - Featured in Skin Deep 191, October, 2010

One man’s tragic obsession with the sillier side of tattooing...

Hello there, thanks for stopping by at my corner of Skin Deep. 

My name is Jim Smallman, stand up comedian and professional idiot.  I’m arguably one the most heavily inked comics on the UK stand-up circuit, with the proud boast that hardly any of my tattoos are in any way sensible.  You may have bumped into me at Tattoo Jam either this year or last, as I was the shorts-clad imbecile running around on the main stage and doing announcements whilst trying my best to not sound too much like a local radio DJ (which I also happen to be, sometimes). 

Anyway, we’ll come to the subject of my daft tattoos shortly.  I was lucky enough to be tattooed twice at Tattoo Jam this year, and this was a new experience for me.  I had the marvellously evil Akuma from the Streetfighter series etched into the back of my left leg by Matt from Tattoo UK, and German wunderkind Mr Halbstark tattooed a heart onto my chest. I adore both pieces, but there was one thing I didn’t enjoy: trying to maintain the faintest illusion that these tattoos didn’t hurt like all hell while people wandered past and in some cases, paused to watch for several minutes while my visage contorted into something halfway between being in tears and my sex face.  That’s what I tend to look like when trying desperately not to scream or slap at the face of my artistic tormentor like a camp swan.

So despite my own limitations with pain and exposure to the public, it was an excellent weekend.  I met loads of great people, saw tons of amazing tattoos and ended up with two brilliant pieces myself – two of the more sensible ones that I happen to have.  For Edinburgh in 2011 I’ve been inviting suggestions via my Twitter (see link at the end of this article) for an even dumber tattoo. Best ideas so far are:

• A Charles and Diana commemorative plate.

• A pancreas.

• Holes in my body like I’m a human version of Operation.

• The scene in Corrie where Alan Bradley is hit by a tram.

• The Last Supper, recreated with all the winners of Big Brother.

Whatever I end up with will be a surprise to be revealed next August, but in the meantime I would love to hear from any Skin Deep readers who think they can rival my silly ink.  I don’t mean mis-spelled or shoddy work, I mean works of art that are frankly, surreal or bizarre.  Maybe you’ve got a beautiful black and grey replication of a classic James Dean pose but he’s walking a small piglet?  A hen driving a chocolate tram?  A llama popping out of a Deal or No Deal box?  I want to see them and hear the stories behind them.  We’ll print the best one each month and as well as my upmost admiration you’ll win some Skin Deep goodies.

Send your amazingly daft ink pictures to and I’ll be back for more nattering next month. 

Toodle pip!


Twitter: @jimsmallman


Text: Jim Smallman; Photography: Christina Owen