If you can imagine a tattoo, piercing or body modification, chances are this man - on track to become the most tattooed man in history - has it.

Eli Ink, a tattoo artist from Brighton, even changed his name to show his devotion to the craft, which he says has set him back the value of a three-bedroom house.

The 34-year-old has run out of space on his skin for more of the ink, drawing layers upon layers of shapes and drawings over previous works.

"I don't really have any control over them," Eli said. "I let the tattoos do their own thing, it's always changing. I might go online and see one photo and the whole game changes overnight.

"I go to art galleries, I look at photography, fashion. I just keep pushing the limits. My aim is to be the most tattooed man in history.

"I have even forgotten what some of the layers I have had underneath were."

The Argus: Eli's first tattoo was on his elbowEli's first tattoo was on his elbow (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

He got his first inking aged just 17 at a backstreet studio in London by an artist called Mad Alan, a black spider's web on his elbow. This is the only tattoo which has not since been covered.

He said: "I got the first one and then after that I had no real control over it. I was all in. Without Mad Alan I wouldn't have been on this journey.

"I paid a guy to draw a design on me and he had done it with no questions asked. I then started to wonder what else I could do with it.

"I realised that it doesn't lead anywhere, but also to places as well."

 

With Eli spending so much time on the leather bed under the needle, he soon picked up the skills to start inking people himself.

Eli has travelled to all corners of the globe to ink people who have spotted his tattoos on social media or internet forums 

His tattoos also serve as a billboard for his studio Sacred Silence in Sackville Road.

"It's a walking advertisement. I'll be in the queue at Tesco and people are booking with me," he said.

His studio has proved a success and has helped fund his extreme body modifications. His look turns heads wherever he is - be it at home in Brighton or abroad in Moscow.

But Eli, who moved to Brighton last year, says his extreme look does not come without its challenges. He said: "Sometimes I just want to go around to the shop to get some milk and bread and it turns into a gallery.

"If you want to go to a five-star restaurant, they'll sit you right in the corner, away from everyone, or if you walk into a bank you will notice security just watching you.

"At airports, I am always frisked. If I didn't do it for a living, I would not have done what I have.

"The way I look at it is like a small price to pay. Brighton is still the best place to be for someone like me."

The Argus: Eli posing for a picture in BrightonEli posing for a picture in Brighton (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

His relationship with body modification has cost him friendships and even romantic relationships with others.

Eli even faced criticism from his own family when he first got the tattoos. "I'm the only person with them in my family," he said. "But if you strip it down, it is only one tattoo. It's just large.

"They were worried I wasn't going to get a job, but once I started earning money from it they started to support me.

"When everyone is telling me that I am nuts for doing this project, I have just got to push that aside.

"The amount of girlfriends I've lost over the years is insane."

Eli near the start of his transformationEli near the start of his transformation (Image: Supplied)

Such extensive tattooing can also cause kidney problems as the ink is constantly filtering through the organ, which is how they can fade over time.

"It's weird, but I can't imagine my life without it," Eli added. "If I woke up and it had disappeared, I probably wouldn't be able to go out."

Every square inch of his body is inked several times over. You read that right - every square inch.

"There are not many things that we can have for the rest of our life, so while this is expensive I have it forever," he said.

"I'm certainly not going to get cremated."

Growing up, Eli was known as Josh Rogers. He wanted to be a locksmith, and studied motor mechanics in college. He previously had jobs as a gardener and a fishmonger.

"But all of that went out of the window after about an hour of seeing a guy in a shop who gave me a tattoo," he said.

Ten years ago, Josh legally changed his name via deed poll to Eli Ink, to better reflect him as a person.

But it isn't just ink Eli is known for.

Eli showing off his lip plateEli showing off his lip plate (Image: Supplied)

He has had black injections into his eyes to make them appear black, and even had a 75-millimetre Ethiopian plate in his lower lip.

The injection means he has to go for eye tests every month for the rest of his life to make sure the ink doesn't affect his vision. These are in a legally grey area in the UK and many tattoo artists will not do the modification.

"It is stupid to do your eyes," he clarified. "Ringing your mum and telling her that if this goes wrong it could be your last time seeing.

"But at the same time once you've done everything, it gets boring."

Eli wore the lip plate everywhere he went, although removed it after finding it too uncomfortable. His lip had to be surgically reconstructed.

He does not know what is next in store for his body. 

"I don't think it will ever end," Eli said. "It's one extreme to another. That's why lockdown was so hard for me.

"I've got no limits. It's all about experiences."