Mumbai-based tattoo artist Vikas Malani, who has worked extensively in Bollywood, was in Chennai for a three-day workshop
At the end of the afternoon in Chennai, Vikas Malani is immersed in the âbiryani bucketâ while he attends the roll call. The Mumbai-based tattoo artist popular for his work in Bollywood (Aamir Khan for Dhoom 3, Anushka Sharma for Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola, Priyanka Chopra for Pyaar impossible among others), sounds exhausted after a long day of tattoo workshops with 25 budding artists from all over South India. The three-day workshop that culminated on Sunday, Vikas said, was an attempt to shatter myths and bring the art of tattooing to South India.
âI have observed that the industry in Chennai is still new … still learning about the technology or the opportunities available. Everyone seems to follow the gods of the internet, and if they don’t follow the right practice, the quality will drop, âVikas says of his decision to host the workshop. Even simple things like choosing the right ink quality for a specific skin color are often overlooked. âI also find that people are very passionate about art here. I find it very cool, but the only catch is that the artists don’t have the right facilities.
For this reason, he had brought trainers and equipment. The mental blocks that people have when it comes to tattooing is what he was trying to break through the workshops. âIt’s like food. If you want me to cook good food for you, the ingredients have to be fresh and of the highest quality, âhe says. Beyond hygiene and product quality, the workshop also coached participants on how to hone their design skills and understand muscle memory, particularly on ‘how to feel and understand the skin ; and make the shadows, lines and textures perfect â.
Vikas, who entered the field in 1998, has gone on a “roller coaster ride” of a trip to the industry. His BodyCanvas tattoo parlor and piercing studio, founded 16 years ago in Andheri, now has branches in London, the United States and Germany. Responding to how COVID-19 has affected the industry, Vikas admits his client base has definitely declined, but with the right kind of insurance and security measures tattoo artists in India have thrived.
âThe tattoo is ultimately a luxury. Right now people don’t want to spend money on it. That aside, Vikas says that even before the pandemic hit, tattoo artists around the world were using masks and gloves as they inevitably come into close contact with clients. In addition, as a standard procedure, needles are changed after each use. So on the bright side, there aren’t many health or hygiene issues specific to the pandemic, he concludes.