It’s the image that’s taking the tattoo world by storm - and it would never have happened if St Albans mechanic Gareth Smith’s name hadn’t been pulled out the hat.

The 36-year-old had been reluctant to get body art before because of a phobia of needles, but he sat through 45 hours of inking for this full-back tiger tattoo by artist Michael Rose.

And now the pair are touring Europe and winning awards for the work - most recently coming first for best colour piece at The Great British Tattoo Show in May.

But it was completely by chance that Gareth, a motor mechanic at Prestige Performance, in Hatfield Road, came to get his tattoo.

Gareth, who lives in Potters Bar, said: "A tattooist in Potters Bar was having a competition to win a tattoo - my name was pulled out the hat.

"We got talking and I decided I wanted to get a large back piece, we looked at lots of pictures and I decided on a tiger.

"The actual work took 45 hours over a six month period. Now it’s done and he’s done it really well."

It’s only the second tattoo Gareth has had, the first being a tribal art on his arm.

Gareth, who lives on Cranborne Road, continued: "It was a one off opportunity; I’d never had the confidence to have something like it before. I had a phobia against needles that always stopped me.

"When I was 30 I had one done on my arm - I thought for this I may as well go for gold."

Inspired by the win at The Great British Tattoo Show, Michael Rose, of Michael Rose Visual Art on Darkes Lane, and Gareth are taking the tiger tattoo global.

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They are taking part in tattoo conventions and competitions in Barcelona, Brussels and Holland later this year to scoop more prizes for the unique artwork.

Gareth said his whirlwind chance at international tattoo acclaim may not be "the norm", but he’s absolutely delighted with the surprise turn of events.