BY: JONATHAN MAY
Riddled with bullet holes, cocaine hangovers, and wrinkle inducing prison sentences, a past life is not always a destiny foretold. Out of the furnace and onto the black tarmac ascended eight Mexican tattoo artists who united together in an attempt to craft a decent living that didn’t involve ending up back behind bars. With most of their friends still serving time or no longer breathing, these gangbangers took on a new identity sewn together by the tattoo needle.
In the prison complex of the United States, coloured ink is impossible to get, so cons use cigarette ash to make an easily blended pigment. With only a single needle and the ability to tattoo black and grey, an extreme attention to detail is born. Jonathan May’s series Desert Ink captures a candid portrait of the life of ex-inmates who were vastly affected by this new wave of realist-tattoo style.