The trade licence issued by the Mangalore City Corporation to Conrad Misquith reads, “Leather goods manufacturing by manuval power and beauty parlour”.
Mr. Misquith has made a livelihood out of dozens of hobbies that have to do with art in one way or the other. Focussing largely on handcrafted leather goods that include “anything except footwear”, he branched out into tattooing three years ago as procuring leather started getting too expensive.
When he applied for a licence to open a tattoo parlour, the health inspector, who visited Con's Tattoo Studio in Padil here, kept asking him how many “seats” he had. “I didn't understand what he meant until he asked me ‘You want a license for a beauty parlour don't you?' and wrote down ‘one' in his records after visiting the studio,” Mr. Misquith said, and added that there was nothing in the law about regulating the work of tattoo artists.
Mr. Misquith did his first tattoo on his son. To advertise, he had his own arms tattooed by his colleague and then removed the sleeves from several of his shirts and T-shirts. It worked, he said, and added that people came to him only through word of mouth. Be it fire-breathing dragons or simple initials, a small star or the whole back, plain black or coloured, Mr. Misquith and his colleague can do it all. “People look at film stars and want to have tattoos, but they have no idea about safety standards and the implications of getting a permanent mark on their body. Getting a small tattoo (one square inch) will cost you Rs. 400, but removing it without scars will cost Rs. 1.8 lakh,” he said. He makes his clients sign a form stating that they have understood these issues, and that they agree to follow instructions on how to take care of themselves after getting the tattoo.
Although, only three years old in the art of tattooing, for 21 years, Mr. Misquith worked with leather, making and hand carving a range of articles, including wallets, mobile covers, gun holsters for the police, and cigarette lighter holders.
Mr. Misquith, who works with two helpers, said: “One day, I want to open a school to teach leather craft, music, painting, cooking, and tattooing under one roof.”