Craigy Lee: Around the World in a Day

Published: 02 January, 2013 - Featured in Skin Deep 220, January, 2013

So it’s 2013 and if your reading this, it means the world didn’t end! 2012 shaped up to be another fantastic whirlwind year on the road that made me feel very lucky to be able to do what I do and share my adventures with you fine people through the good ship Skin Deep.

Europe is a fantastic place to work and visit. It has such a rich history and culture and is so close to travel to; driving from South London to Belgium or Germany is in fact quicker than driving to Scotland. Europe may seem daunting, but it really isn’t. It has been a long haul – I worked a total of 24 conventions and eight guest spots in nine countries. I overcame language barriers, driving on the right, changing currencies, and finally getting married… yup, it’s been one hell of a year!

One thing people say to me all the time is, “oh you’re so lucky to be able to do what you do”, and in certain cases, I am lucky. I am lucky to be born in the UK and have a UK passport, and I am lucky the UK is part of the EU and allows me to travel and work in whatever country I like in Europe. But hang on a minute; more than most of you reading this will have all of those things. Europe is literally on your doorstep, so I hope that reading about my adventures throughout the year has whet your appetite and made you want to travel. If you’re an easy-going, open person and go to work a convention in Europe, you will meet loads of lovely people and no doubt get many invitations to do guest spots. As they say the harder you work the luckier you get.
Working conventions in Europe is not much different to working conventions in the UK. Yes, people talk different languages, but if you learn a bit of their language most people have a little English. Organisers 99 percent of the time are thrilled you made the effort to travel and work at their convention and will go all out to help you making sure you have everything you need, and customers are delighted to have the opportunity to be tattooed by an artist they may not usually be able to get to.

You don’t even need to take much with you either; everything can be bought at the convention from suppliers, from inks, needles and gloves, to power packs, clip-cords, disposable tubes and cleaning products. One thing I would certainly advise, is to make sure you have one or two days off either side of the convention so you can get out and see some of the sights. Everything is pretty close. For example, after I worked in East Germany I took a few days to go and visit Prague which was a two-hour drive from the convention venue, Europe is well connected with autobahns that run through each country and most of the time you don’t even show your passport when you are crossing borders – you will just see a welcome sign on the side of the road.

I have unexpectedly bumped into many of my fellow Englishmen on the road. If you tattoo lovers and collectors can’t decide what to do on your next weekend, why not jump online and go experience a convention in Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Norway, or any other destination in Europe you fancy; it won’t cost you an arm and a leg and the worldwide tattoo community are so friendly and welcoming, you will fit right in and feel at home. The best way to experience a country is with the knowledge and help of the local people, and the best way to meet local people is through a common love or interest – the love of tattooing draws many different people together and will help you get well on the way to discovering some of the best kept secrets in your chosen destination.

With the internet, it’s now easier then ever to book flights, hotels and transport and find what conventions are going on at what time of year. Prague was an amazing place, with a great art scene; Budapest was also amazing to walk around and discover the amazing architecture, not to mention the hot spa’s that were really affordable. So make your New Year’s resolution to get out and visit that country you always fancied going to, and fly the flag for British tattooing!

Another highlight of my trip this year was visiting Amsterdam and the famous Tattoo Museum with its huge collection of artefacts from all over the world. I want to take a few inches to highlight this fantastic place, as some of you may not have heard, but the future of the museum is under threat as well as the collection itself. I would strongly urge you all to visit the website to see what you can do to help. If the collection was lost or taken by a corporate body and sold it would be terrible as future generations would not be able to see these amazing pieces of tattoo history. Visit, to read the full story and start your new year off with a good deed.


Text & Photography: Craigy Lee