A TATTOOIST is celebrating 25 years of business in Leek.
Nidge Bowers, who has worked in the body art trade for 42 years and lives in Brown Edge, trained to become a professional tattooist by way of an apprenticeship.
He said: "There is no such thing as a tattooist school. I learned the trade through apprenticeship at different tattoo businesses."
Nidge began his tattoo business in Leek at the now derelict 'White House' in Ashbourne Road, before moving into the mill of Anvil Antiques in Cross Street, and then up to premises in Haregate.
He then moved his business to St Edward Street, before moving to Market Street, where he has been for the last five years.
The 57-year-old said: "It's ok here but trade is a bit up and down at the moment.
"I put it down to there being too many tattooists in Leek now. It used to be the non-official golden rule between tattooists that you don't move into an area where there is already a tattooist within two miles.
"But that's gone now; there is no such respect anymore.
"However, this is my business and I will be staying as I have a large customer base."
Nidge did his first tattoo at the age of seven and has decorated thousands of people.
He said: "The pleasure I have is when people bring their next generations in to have their tattoos done by me.
"I have had unusual requests such as a barcode on someone's behind to half a peeled orange. I have also been asked to tattoo someone's ashes into people.
"It is a way for people to have that final chapter for a loved one.
"Grieving can take a long time and with having their loved ones ashes tattooed into them, it makes them feel that they are still with them." Father-of-two and grandfather-of-one Nidge, who is married to Angela, added: "Nothing shocks or surprises me. Each to their own.
"It's their bodies and they can have what they want.
"However, I will say if I think they may be going over the top. I don't really like doing tattoos on faces.
"The most painful place to have tattoos is under the arch of your feet or at the bottoms of your toes.
"The most common tattoo is still a rose. It is one of the nicest tattoos you can have."
Nidge has a strict rule of only offering his services to over 18s, and his oldest customer to date has been an 82-year-old woman.
When the Post & Times visited Nidge's business, Leek Tattoo Centre, 23-year-old Laura Wright was having some 'grey work' to fill in one of the tattoos on her left arm.
She said: "I have got around 21 tattoos which I started having done at the age of 18.
"It can be quite painful having a tattoo done, but I take it as I am getting something out of it.
"Most of my tattoos I can cover up, except for one on my hand.
"Having a tattoo is a way of expressing myself. Some of my tattoos represent special people in my life."
To book an appointment with Nidge, call 01583 399681.