A SCOTTISH art school dropout is inking up a storm with amazingly lifelike tattoos of celebrities.
Alex Rattray has a six-month waiting list of customers prepared to pay as much as £2000 to have customised, photorealistic images of the famous tattooed on their bodies.
Despite winning a place at the prestigious Edinburgh College of Art, Alex turned his back on a career in the mainstream art world.
Instead, he spends up to 13 hours a day in an Edinburgh studio creating works of art on clients’ bodies.
Recent creations include Walter White from Breaking Bad, Bruce Willis in Die Hard, Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator mode, Bob Marley, and Stephen Fry.
Favourite characters among customers include The Hulk and Joker from Batman.
The 33-year-old is part of a growing trend toward providing sophisticated, customised tattoos rather than off-the-wall studio designs.
His skills as an artist got him a place in 1999 at Edinburgh College of Art, which counts Sculptor Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, painter John Bellany, and 2009 Turner Prize winner Richard Wright among its graduates.
He admitted: “I wasn’t really enjoying it so left in my second year. I had no idea what I wanted to do but the idea came to me as I was getting a tattoo.
“I took some time off and then set about getting an apprenticeship where I spent the first few years making tea before I was finally allowed to get to work.”
Alex, who takes anything from a whole day to five days to complete a tattoo, is booked solid until spring next year.
“You pay for what you get with tattoos. There’s a lot of studios out there that will take walk-ins off the street and just do whatever the customer wants.”
He added: “I’ve done loads of really fun work in all shapes and sizes and it’s really hard to pick my favourite but if I had to chose it would be the stormtrooper because it’s on my girlfriend.”
Alex is so painstaking when it comes to his work that a customer from the US had to go back home before his picture of Breaking Bad antihero Walter White was completed.
Despite a 13-hour session, the image on the man’s back was incomplete before he had to head to the airport.
He said: “It’s like a piece of art. You wouldn’t let a painting go unfinished and this is the same. It’s really grating. I will find him and I will finish it.”