By Chris Jaffray
The UK’s oldest tattooist is still hard at work aged 86 – and says his skills with a needle ‘don’t want to disappear’.
Despite his advanced years, octogenarian Doc Price can still be found inking limbs from in his tattoo parlour in Plymouth, Devon most days.
The pensioner – who got his first tattoo aged 15, a design dedicated to his mother – has worked in the store since opening it 49 years ago.
But despite an early interest in body art, he initially pursued a career in bricklaying and only drew tattoos in his spare time, practicing on his colleagues.
Since then, Doc estimates he has given at least 12,000 individual inkings to his happy customers, and has no plans to retire.
He said: “I think when people talk about age, they give up too early.
“As we get older, our abilities start to disappear, but this ability doesn’t seem to want to disappear.
“I do most of mine freehand but a lot of modern techniques are done with stencils, which are copies of copies of copies.
“When you’re doing it, you’re doing it for them and them alone.
“You don’t intend for you to do 12,000 of the same thing.”
Doc isn’t the only retirement-age Brit refusing to let age define them, and has spoken out after a national survey by SunLife found 58 per cent of over-fifties are keeping their minds active and challenged.
The poll by the insurance company, which surveyed 50,000 over-50s in Britain, found one in 10 over 70s are not retired.
Doc said: “I think a lot of tattooing is about memory, memory of when we get older, though we don’t know that we are going to get older but when we look back out tattoos reflect on those times that were good and times that were sometimes not so good.
“I had an occasion recently to be in a supermarket and I saw a tattoo that I had done so many years ago and to me it was such a beautiful moment.
“It had toned down it has grown old with the person.
“It belonged to him, it’s something that I gave him as a younger man and I thought it was just one of those nice, nice moments.
“In terms of the highlights of my life, I really would have to think very hard because it has been spectacular from beginning to end.”
Simon Stanney, from SunLife, said: “Our research has found that nine in ten people over 50 have actively done something to something to try and stay fit and healthy since they turned 50.
“The most common changes are making more of an effort to eat more healthily, exercise more regularly and keep their minds active which means many over 50s are fitter and healthier now – both physically and mentally – than they were when they were younger. Doc is a great example of someone who is keeping his mind active to ensure he is free to continue doing what he loves.
“Some people still believe that turning 50 is something to worry about, that life slows down after that – but after conducting the UK’s biggest-ever study with 50,000 people over 50 we know that’s not the case at all: for many, life after 50 is the best time of their lives.”
For more information: https://www.sunlife.co.uk/welcome-to-life-after-50/