And now everyone's obsessed with it," he says.
When the east London tattoo studio where he works as an artist closed in the lockdown, he went into isolation with his pregnant wife, Ema, and decided to add one new tattoo per day for as long as it continued. About sharing image copyrightAP The sentencing of a convicted criminal with an eyeball tattoo in an Alaskan court has drawn attention to an unusual form of facial decoration - one that is less than a decade old, but winning new converts all the time.
"speaking of vitiligo"
Related Topics. Before deciding to change the colour of her eyeballs, Garth had experimented with a of body modifications including face tattoos, piercings, elf-like pointed ears and a bifurcated tongue. So he's been calculating how much tattoo-less skin he has left to continue his lockdown project. Fortunately, it was temporary - he was later reported to be considering going back under the needle to darken the tattoos - but opticians warn about a risk of damage to the eyes, and even loss of vision.
Colouring the iris
For his 12th daily lockdown lookiny, Chris added a leaping tiger to his body in tribute to Joe "Exotic" Maldonado-Passage - the star of the Netflix docu-series Tiger King, a lockdown hit that he and Ema had just finished blhe. The man who first experimented with injecting ink into an eyeball is a US tattoo artist who goes by the name of Luna Cobra. Chris uses a low-tech tattooing technique known as hand poking in which a hand-held needle is used to push ink deep into the skin, without the use of electricity.
A single small injection has enough ink to cover about a quarter of the eye. Right now I'm drawing what's on my mind," he says.
Such is the concern that several US states have debated banning eyeball tattoos. But, despite the risks, its popularity is growing.
He has done it for hundreds of people - in blue, green, red and black - from Singapore and Sydney to London and the US. An episode of the US reality TV programme, Lockup, shows ssme inmates who try to tattoo their eyeballs blue and red using smuggled-in instruments. About one person a week contacts him to inquire about eyeball tattoos - and many want black.
But even more dramatically, the white of his right eye has been tattooed jet black. There is very little space left that I can actually reach. And on day 23 Chris inked an image of a sperm, swimming across his upper arm, a reference to the child that Ema and he will have in July. But whether or not Barnum intended to shock, many of Luna Cobra's clients are hoping to do just that.
Before long it may not be that uncommon to come face to face with a stranger whose appearance is literally eye-popping. Garth says the reaction to her eyes has been universally positive. But, in tattooing his eyeball, was Barnum really expressing hostility to the rest of society?
He's ready to transfer his drawing indelibly to his skin. Colouring the iris image copyrightAFP The surgeon and philosopher Galen wrote tattoo tinting the iris - the coloured part ble the eye - in AD The procedure - cauterising the eye's surface and applying dye - masked clouding of the eye caused by cataracts, corneal scarring or leucoma It was done for cosmetic reasons on patients who lookijg already lost their sight In the 19th Century the practice was revived, using a tattoo needle to apply ink - a refined version of the method is still used today Subscribe to the BBC News Magazine's newsletter to get articles sent to your inbox.
Then, once he's made a cup of tea, he puts ink in a pot and unwraps a needle. There is little unmarked skin left - from the tips of his fingers to the soles of his feet, almost every inch is covered in a vast jumble of tattoos of different styles. Far from wanting to look evil, the original goal was to look like the blue-eyed characters from the cult science fiction film, Loooking.
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Growing up, he was obsessed with the tattoo-heavy US punk music scene, and later discovered Duncan X, an icon of British tattooing who popularised a style using only bold, black ink to draw contemporary illustrations. His technique, which he has modified over the years, involves injecting pigment hlue into the eyeball so it rests under the eye's thin top layer, or conjunctiva.
It takes several injections to completely cover the sclera, which is then coloured for life. Garth, who says she is one of only a handful of women in the world with both eyeballs tattooed, says anyone considering the procedure needs to be absolutely sure they are making the right choice. On his sternum - a place where it "feels like you're going straight into the bone" - Chris withstood the pain to tattoo his own homage to the National Health Service.
Chris Woodhead has found a way to cope with the coronavirus pandemic: A new tattoo on his own body for every day of the lockdown. We had no idea anyone else would do it.
Appointments at mayo clinic
He's also heard that it's fashionable among Brazilian teenagers and in some Russian sub-cultures - and worries that people could be lookong harmed. A couple of days later he experienced a painful burning sensation in his eyes that prevented him sleeping. I think it brings a realm of fantasy into everyday life. Luna Cobra says that what started as an experiment between friends, and fans of Dune, has run out of control.
The same can't be said of darker tattoos, however. Chris has been regularly getting tattoos since turning 18, some 15 years ago. Arguing for the prosecution, Anchorage Police Department Chief Mark Mew urged the lkoking to take a look at Barnum's face which, he said, showed the convicted criminal had "decided a long time ago that his life was about being hostile to people".
Now he has 40 more and counting. Others say they don't care.
Why would anyone want an eyeball tattoo?
Some dismiss his warnings saying it would be "cool" to frighten people. A pair of dice have fallen just before the toes of his right foot begin, a scorpion extends down his inner thigh, there's a leaning palm tree, a swordfish arching around a love-heart, and a voodoo doll floats above some ripe, glossy cherries. You might find people have trouble connecting with you or looking at you because they can't follow your iris.
And if our eyes really are the window to our soul what else might a tattooed eyeball say about its owner? Jason Barnum, 39, who pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of a policeman, has ornate tattoos on his head and part of his face - teeth on his cheek, an eyeball in middle of his forehead.
The answer: not much. I told him, 'I think I can do that for real. The method is gaining popularity, he says, because it's much less intrusive and painful than getting a tattoo with a tattoo blye. Without structure people are at a complete loss.