EVERY ARTIST SEEKS A MEDIUM TO CALL HIS OWN, MICHELANGELO HAD marble. Kilroy had walls. Mark Baudains has... his epidermis. Looking for inspiration in spots where most men see nothing but a 5 o'clock shadow, the 26-year-old Englishman has carved his physiognomy into a Dantesque vision in tattoos. On one cheek is a devil; on the other, he notes with pleasure, are "claws ripping through the skin." Demons abound. A snake adorns each ear—two serpents slithering their way down to his earlobes.
No great art is without pain. Last April the truck driver cum builder took the ferry from his home on the isle of Guernsey in the Channel Islands to the English port city of Portsmouth, where tattooist Darren Stares etched his face for a week, working up to seven hours each day. "I had to shave the eyebrows off," says Baudains. "Down my nose was also very sore—the needle sort of grinds on the bone." Still, he needs fresh horizons. "I'll be going over the top of the head," he says. "I intended to get the top done a while ago, but there wasn't enough time."
But hasn't he already gone over the top? "I don't think there's a limit," says Baudains, who since he was 18 has spent over $5,000 on tattoos. Already covered are his arms and back. Coming soon: illustration of the legs, feet and toes—"everything," he says, "apart from, like, the groin area."
There are, of course, objections. Baudains's girlfriend of four years, florist Alison Setters, 23, the mother of his son, Nathan, 2, complains that people in their town of St. Peter Port stare, though Baudains seems oblivious. "She's not a lover of tattoos," he says. Not that Baudains hasn't integrated her in to his being: ALISON is inked on his knuckles, left arm and on the inside of his bottom lip.
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