Tagg-art murders competition: John Cuthbert’s tattoo voted best Scottish-themed design


A TAGGART fan’s massive tattoo of the TV detective has been crowned the best Scottish-themed body art.

John Cuthbert, 34, won the award for the best Scottish-themed tattoo when he attended the Scottish Tattoo Convention (STC) in Edinburgh on Sunday.

The artwork – which is still unfinished – shows actor Mark McManus as Detective Chief Inspector Jim Taggart alongside Glasgow’s iconic Finnieston crane on John’s back.

Mr Cuthbert's Taggart tattoo was described as the “perfect embodiment of a Scottish tattoo” by organisers.
Mr Cuthbert’s Taggart tattoo was described as the “perfect embodiment of a Scottish tattoo” by organisers.


It fended off competition from Braveheart and caramel wafer tattoos to the number one spot after organisers said it was the “perfect embodiment of a Scottish tattoo”.

IT worker John – who has 60% of his body covered in ink – said the tattoo was inspired by his love for the detective show that “holds a special place” in his heart.

John – a father-of-one from Bearsden in Glasgow – said the tattoo arose from a chat with close friend Mark Wallace who works at Custom Inc tattoo studio in Glasgow.

He said: “It was great winning the first place prize – I got a huge roar from the crowd compared to the other entrants who got a modest applause.

“But it was also great to showcase Mark’s work.

“He and I were chatting one day about our love for Taggart and he said that he’d always wanted to do a Taggart tattoo on someone.

“I’d been going to him for 16 years since he did my first one and I said ‘Well in that case I’m your perfect guy’.”

John owns all the box sets for the series and has been watching the show since it started in 1983.

The tattoo of Mark McManus was originally meant to be inked on John’s thigh but the stencil didn’t seem to sit right so they decided to place it on his back.

John added: “The thigh just wasn’t going to suit – I had been holding out for my a good back piece so we decided to put it there.

“It’s got the Glasgow skyline alongside McManus’ face – who for me is just amazing.

“But James MacPherson is also good and will be added later along with other iconic references to Glasgow.”



John continued: “I’ve loved the show ever since it first came out – I was gutted when it was dropped from TV.

“I own all the boxsets and it is still a great show.

“I’m Glasgow born and raised and I just the show is absolutely amazing, it sums up the city and just can’t be beaten.”

John did not wish to disclose who much the tattoo cost but revealed so far he has spent 17 hours under the needle – with 17 more to go.

But he admitted his wife Joanne – who has no tattoos of her own – took a while to get used to it

He added: “She is fully supportive about this – but I think at first when she rolled over the night and seen McManus’ face staring back she was getting a bit of a shock.
“I’m actually a really shy guy and all my tattoos can be covered up, in my 9 to 5 you’d never know I had tattoos.

“At the end of the day my tattoos are for me. They depict the story of my life and how I was feeling at the time.

“They all mean something – for example I have my son’s name and other personal things on my body.

“They all hold a special place in my heart, I don’t regret a thing.”



James Aitken, the Scottish Tattoo Convention organiser, said: “The category was aimed at finding the best Scottish themed tattoo and John certainly delivered that.

“Taggart is something that every Scotsman knows and it’s pretty much unique to our country.

“Other entrants included Braveheart themed tattoos and one person who had a Tunnock’s caramel wafer tattoo.

“But for us John’s ink of McManus was the perfect embodiment of a Scottish tattoo – we were all very impressed.

“I didn’t get to speak to John myself but I think it started as a drunken chat between him and friend over who liked Taggart more.

“He said he was a huge fan and then went out to get the tattoo to prove it.”



Mark McManus played the lead role in Taggart for 11 years until his death in 1994 aged 59.

Taggart fanatic John even has McManus’ picture on his Facebook page.

The two day event at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange saw more than 600 tattoos carried out on around 3,000 visitors.

There were also live bands, bondage displays and jewellery stalls – one man even participated in a traditional form of tattooing where a stick with needles is tapped onto the skin.

This tribal technique is believed to date back thousands of years when warriors would mark themselves before battle or villages would display ink as a mark of respect to gods.