Photos: Surprising tattoos under the surface of ordinary people

How well do you really know your friends and coworkers? In his gorgeous photo series Covered, photographer Alan Powdrill reveals surprising tapestries of tattoos on otherwise ordinary-looking people.

Shot across the UK, Powdrill’s subjects’ ages vary from 23 to 66. And after having spent time, money, and pain on their skin, he tells Quartz, most were more than happy to show it off. “The method of double portraits with & without clothes was inspired by a famous Helmut Newton series,” says Powdrill. “It helps highlight ‘what lies beneath’ and our perceptions of the people we’re looking at.

” If I ever forget who I am, I take my clothes off and look in the mirror and find out who I am again” Chris, 25, Coventry (IMP Features/Alan Powdrill)
“I love being different, and everyday I am asked about them. Good tattoos aren’t cheap, cheap tattoos are not good” Izzy, 48, Maidstone (IMP Features/Alan Powdrill)
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” I was 14 and my mum tried to wash it off. I will stop whenever I die, everything I want to remember gets tattooed on me.” Stuart, 22, Bromley (IMP Features/Alan Powdrill)
” I am beyond the stopping point now.” Unsal, 46, Hastings. (IMP Features/Alan Powdrill)
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” They have given me confidence in life since my crown’s illness, I will love them in the future like I do now.” Peter, 38, Colchester. (IMP Features/Alan Powdrill)
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” I was 15. My parents didn’t find out until I got my second at 18.” Carlos, 35, Bournemouth. (IMP Features/Alan Powdrill)
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” I was 18 and got a small lizard on my hip. My parents said ‘how would I ever get a job !’ ” James, 33, Brighton. (IMP Features/Alan Powdrill)
” I love every inch of my skin, but I love my back the most. I have been waiting 17 years to get it done, and it is exactly how i wanted it to be. ” Stefano, 33, London (IMP Features/Alan Powdrill)
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” I am loving how they change as my body gets older and the creases and wrinkles change how they look. when I’ve got no space below my neck, I will stop. ” Ness, 40, Crawley. (IMP Features/Alan Powdrill)
” My tattoos are part of who I am and I will always love my bodysuit now and when I am 80. The love I get for what I look like is what its all about.” Victoria, 37, Coventry. (IMP Features/Alan Powdrill)
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