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Alex Derbyshire, a mother-of-two, has spent 20 years and thousands of pounds tattooing her entire body from head-to-toe.

The 38-year-old vowed to have her entire body covered in body art before her 40th birthday.

Since childhood, Alex has been obsessed with body modification. Eventually, she got her first tattoo at 18, a subtle Celtic cross on her back.

Recalling that day, she explained that; "It took about an hour, which was longer than I was expecting. It was painful, but I got through it."

She soon started thinking about what her next tattoo will be, after being delighted with the result. "I never thought I'd end up as covered as I am now. When I first started getting tattoos 20 years ago, they weren't as common as they are now. People could still be a little judgemental about them, so I wanted to get them in places I could easily hide and cover up."

She added 16 more tattoos over the year before her 30th. However, it was not until she turned 30 that she decided she no longer cared what people thought of her. Giving in to her tattoo obsessions, she soon got tattoos on her face, toes and armpits, plus 'blackout work' – a solid, opaque design – spanning her neck, back and arms. Alex's designs include several pieces dedicated to Pink Floyd – her favourite band, Johnny Cash lyrics on her foot, and a skull and butterfly on her neck and chest. She also added a portrait of Sweeney Todd, and some more tattoo designs coating both of her arms, her neck, and part of her back.

Alex has been an estimated 200 hours in the tattooist's chair, transforming her skin. "The blackwork is more about the style than any sort of meaning. I started getting it about four years ago. As it's a completely solid tattoo – almost as if you're colouring in a piece of paper – it's more high intensity pain."

Going through all those tattoos, the pain has never put Alex off. Going on several trips, Alex picked up ink as souvenirs during holidays in Australia, Spain and the USA.

"The most painful places I've had tattoos so far are my back, armpit and my toes. I didn't expect that to hurt quite as much as it did. I have a couple of tattoos on my face – mainly little linear designs done in white ink, so they aren't super visible – which was a very strange sensation. You can feel the vibration going through your whole body the second that gun touches your skin. I have no idea how much I've spent in total – it must be quite a few thousand pounds – but that's been spread across two decades, during which, on average, I've had one to two large pieces done a year."
Even though she has received more compliments than hate, there are still people who do not like it at all. "I do get people staring when I go out, though not necessarily in a negative way. Online, I've had the odd comment here and there, but I don't pay attention. It's very unnecessary to be judgemental of others – especially when my tattoos are a personal choice. It's up to me what I do with my body."

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