With ink studios mushrooming across neighbourhoods, the enthusiasm for tattooing cannot be questioned. Vipasha Sinha reports
Every tattoo traces a story. From merry and poignant to hope-inspiring and thought-provoking, the stories vary in tone.
But the desire to freeze emotions runs through all of them. For this reason, tattoo artists are in demand, whether they operate from plush studios or the streets. Take the case of Chennai, for instance, which has an impressive number of tattoo studios. Most importantly, many of them have been around for some time, standing witness to the enthusiasm for tattooing in the city.
With his body covered with a slew of tattoos, there is no doubting Tarun Kumar’s love for the indelible ink. After taking a degree from a tattoo school in Thailand, he established Ink at Fountain Plaza five years ago. And he has been experimenting with - and promoting - the art ever since. “Last year, I organised a free-tattoo camp, where we inked people for free. Now, I am organising a seven-day crash course in tattooing, where aspiring artists can learn the nuances of the art,” says Tarun, who dons the hats of owner and artist at Ink.
“I am expanding to U.S.,” says Tarun.
Irezumi on College Road is one of the first high-end studios to hit the city. Naveen Kumar, owner of Irezumi, set up shop in 2006 and, over the years, he has seen interest in tattooing increase. Even the requests have changed over the period.
“Now people go beyond the usual, run-of-the-mill stuff such as butterflies and angels. They know that a tattoo is a permanent thing and they want to get more meaningful art that goes with them to their graves. If we find that a client is confused, we suggest they take their time before making a decision,” says Naveen, who now runs a mobile tattoo van that goes to a client’s doorsteps.
“Some people who are not comfortable visiting a tattoo studio,” explains Naveen.
In 2005, Dr R. Rajesh quit as a dentist and set up a tattoo studio - Black Magic - in St Thomas Mount. “When I started, we used to get four to five clients a week and now we have advance booking for appointments. It is pleasant to see that the profile of our customers has changed. Initially, our clientele was restricted to youngsters and expats. Now, it has become common for us to see a forty-something housewife dropping in to get her child’s name inked. Sometimes, parents bring in their children for tattoos,” says Rajesh.
S. Amarnath worked with a tattoo studio for years, before his own in Gopalapuram. He says there is much more to job of a tattoo artist than the glamour attached to it. “It is important to understand the requirements of client. A tattoo is permanent. As a tattoo artist, one cannot afford to go wrong. So, I have long conversations with my clients to understand what they want,” says Amarnath.
Talking about trends, he says, “People are always inspired by actors. These days, many come to us to get their favourite phrases tattooed – along the lines of what Priyanka Chopra has. I have had many people come to me to get phrases from Bhagavad Gita and Thirukkural tattooed.”
Shan aka DJ Raven started out with a boutique-cum-tattoo studio, thinking that the boutique was the priority. To his surprise, things turned out differently. “I started getting more clients for tattoos and that gave me the confidence to open a full-fledged tattoo studio in Besant Nagar. Apart from doing tattoos, we also do tattoo removal treatment using laser technology. People often get tattoos and later regret it. So, we do our bit to help them get rid of such unwanted memories,” says Shan.