Heavily tattooed bodies were the norm — not the exception — at United Ink's No Limits Tattoo Expo last month. Held at the Resorts World Casino in Queens, the exposition hosted body-modification artists from around the world. For three days, these celebrated names mingled with and tattooed local ink enthusiasts. Heavy metal and punk-rock music poured from the speakers as attendees compared tattoos and competed in contests from a pinup pageant to a suspension competition (not for the faint of heart). These 14 attendees — some artists themselves — shared with us the stories behind their body art.
Tattoos are an outward display of inward experience, the physical version of wearing one's heart on one's sleeve. From a woman with a portrait of her "future husband" Bruce Campbell inked on her calf, to a mother with a rose tattoo for each one of her children, each attendee was drawn to tattooing as a form of self-expression. They gathered to celebrate the subculture they call their own. Click through to view their portraits and read their stories.