Archive for June, 2010
A friend of ours recently interviewed Aishwariyaa Bhaskaran (of ‘Abhiyum Naanum’ fame) after she got her 6th tattoo from us. Here are some excerpts from their conversation…
What drew you to tattoos?
“Well, I’m a product of the 60s and 70s – a generation of hippies and bikers and punk rockers. All the bands we knew of were tattooed. So it was that western influence.
But I also feel that tattoos are an expression of art on oneself. Something you’d like to keep. For example I have a tattoo in memory of my grandmother who died of breast cancer; so every time I see it, I remember her, as well as my support for the breast cancer movement. In fact, I used to play the base guitar and the keyboard through school and college and want to get tattoos of those.”
Do you think that tattoos have become more mainstream now?
“Well, an IT friend of mine got a Gemini tattoo and he’s a normal guy who works in a proper office and wears a tie to work every day. And his wife, who is in HR, actually encouraged him. ”
How did you come across Amar and Nisha?
“When I was looking for somewhere to get my first tattoo, a lot of people gave me options; but thank God I didn’t listen to them. I didn’t like the places – their cleanliness or anything about them. There is a lot of technicality to tattooing so it’s not like any guy with gun and ink in his hand can do it. I’m a film artist and my tattoos show on screen. I don’t want someone experimenting and using me as a guinea pig!
Luckily for me, at that point my daughter told me about Amar and Nisha (who were working at Irezumi at the time); so that’s how I met them.”
What was your tattoo experience like?
“Well there was something about Amar that was so calming and reassuring. He was very professional and took me through all of the steps involved in tattooing. He even ran an experimental needle so I’d know how it would feel.
Basically, I knew that I could trust that his work would be clean and that he would NOT make me look ugly. Even if you come in with weird ideas, he’ll be straightforward with his opinion. He’ll tell you which colours will look good on you and which won’t. He knows what will work for your skin and body type.”
Can you give me an example?
“Well, I had asked him to use maroon on my tattoo but he suggested red instead. And if he hadn’t, then I’d have got maroon and would have been cursing in the end. You should be able to trust your tattoo artist and Amar is top notch.”
Did you choose from their portfolio of flash tattoos or did you get a custom-designed tattoo?
“All my tattoos are custom-designed. And the great thing is that Amar gives you options. For example, if I tell him that I want a tattoo design with a base guitar, keyboard, veena, and some musical notes, he’ll come up with 10 options for me to choose from. It’s important that a tattoo artist is an artist first. He should be able to take an idea, conceptualize it, design it by hand, and execute the design. And Amar is great at that!
Also, you’ll find that his work is very distinctive. There was a foreigner who had an anklet tattoo that I thought looked so beautiful and when I asked her who did it, she said it was Amar.”
Did you feel much pain while being tattooed?
“I actually fell asleep while they were tattooing me. After delivering a child, tattooing is nothing! It’s actually very nice. And it’s a very addictive pain.”
You said you had a hard time finding a tattoo artist initially. Have you come across any other good ones since your first tattoo?
“There’s one guy in Bombay who’s very good. But in Chennai there is no-one better than Amar. In fact, it’s an open challenge … for anybody to come and tattoo as well as Amar, leaving your skin to heal so beautifully. I think his work is along the lines of the guys at LA Ink and Miami Ink. I have friends from Goa who come to Chennai just to get tattoos from Amar … and the 2 of them have 9 tattoos so far!
Now that he’s branched out separately, I’m all out to support him; because it’s not about the place … you can have a fancy place but the guy doing your tattoo has to be good. And Amar is definitely good! ”
If you’ve ever been hit by the tattoo bug, then you’re sure to know the symptoms:
You see a design you love or someone with cool ink and suddenly you’ve just got to get a tattoo! It’s a craving you can’t seem to satisfy and even the most level-headed people fall prey to.
And this is a good thing. The best tattoos are those you have an instant connection with.
But before you actually go ahead and get that design tattooed, there are some questions worth asking yourself:
1. Will the design stay relevant over the years?
Designs that look cool at one stage of your life may not be so cool 10 years down the line. And this becomes an issue for tattoos that can’t be covered by clothing.
The image of a naked mermaid may look avant-garde when you’re a young adult, but what about years later when you’re at your kid’s parent-teacher meeting?
Take your time to think about it. Give it a week or two. If you’re still keen on the same design, then go for it!
Similarly, decide how specific you want to be in expressing yourself. For example, you may feel that getting your partner’s name tattooed on your arm is romantic as hell … but get on the wrong side of a breakup and you’re doomed to go searching for someone with the same name!!!
Instead, perhaps you can find a design symbolizing a characteristic of your partner’s that you love, for example: compassion. That way, many years from now, even if you’re not with the same person, your love for that quality is still relevant.
Or if nothing else will do, consider sticking with just an initial … not the full name.
2. Does the design have a special significance?
If it’s just the ‘coolness’ of a design that you love, then the simplest thing to do is print it on a poster or t-shirt or maybe even use it to get a temporary tattoo.
But you’ve decided to brand your body for life. So, it’s worth choosing a design powerful enough to be worth making permanent.
And in our experience, the most rewarding tattoos are those that have a personal meaning.
For example, when actress Aishwarya came to us for a tattoo in memory of her grandmother, we custom designed a black rose wrapped in a ribbon – a symbol of her grandmother’s struggle with breast cancer. But the ribbon was thorny because she eventually died from the cancer.
In much the same way, there are many things you can do to personalize your tattoo. So rather than choosing from a selection of flash tattoo designs (ready-made ones), consider paying a little extra to get a design custom-made for you.
3. Will the design stay sharp and clear?
Your tattoo ages with you; and while there are a number of things you can do to care for it, chances are that over time it will start to blur.
That’s why the best tattoos often have large, bold design; these blur less than smaller, intricate ones.
However, keep in mind that whatever the design, you can always get it touched up to look as good as new.
4. Is the design easily recognizable?
There’s nothing more irritating than people asking you what your design is supposed to be. And while it is in a tattoo-lover’s credo that a tattoo is first for yourself and only then for others, constant questions about your tattoo design will eventually begin to wear you down.
So choose a design that is easily recognizable and save yourself a lot of heartache.
5. Is my tattoo artist comfortable with this genre of tattoos?
Every artist has a genre that they specialize in, e.g. old-school tattoos, tribal tattoos, fantasy art, etc. So while this isn’t a deal-breaker (because skilled artists can adapt to whatever design you give them) try and find an artist with some experience in your particular brand of tattoos.
Keep these 5 questions in mind and you are well on your way to choosing a killer tattoo design.
If you have your own experience with choosing tattoo designs, please do post comments and share the wealth.
The dream is to rid the world of bad tattoos, one tattoo at a time
So you’ve decided to get a tattoo. You’ve got a killer design with which you have an instant connection, and your friends are gaga about it as well. Perfect!!!
Now for the crucial task of finding a tattoo studio / tattoo parlour. You begin to check out the artists in your area, but having found some, make a decision that could, literally, change your life forever…
You go to the artist who charges the least.
‘And what is so wrong with that?’ you ask.
Well, nothing really. But before you make that decision, it’s important to know what exactly you’re paying for when you get a tattoo…
You’re paying to stay healthy
The most important difference between an artist associated with a tattoo parlour or studio and an artist working out of a garage is usually their level of hygiene. Inexperienced, ill-equipped, and sloppy artists…
- Don’t sterilize their equipment (i.e. the smaller parts of the tattoo gun and the tubes that channel ink) properly
- Re-use needles and leftover ink
The end result? You’ll get your tattoo, but also a surprise bonus: HIV, hepatitis, and/or syphilis.
You’re paying for a pleasant experience
Now, say you don’t go to the garage-artist. Say you choose a studio / parlour. Is that really enough? Unfortunately, no. Even in an established studio, you can find poorly skilled artists who lack sound tattoo technique…
- By applying too much pressure with their tattoo guns, they’ll rupture your skin. Or by going over the same area of skin repeatedly (desperately trying to get the ink to set well), they’ll give you keloids that mar your tattoo forever.
- By using the wrong needles (there are about 40 different types to choose from) they’ll cause you more pain than necessary and make your tattoo look downright ugly.
You’re paying for a tattoo that looks fabulous
And what if you find a hygienic studio with experienced artists who know how to use their equipment?
Well, now comes the final test; because what differentiates good tattoo artists from excellent ones is their ability to bring a design to life … to fill it with so much vibrancy and energy that it leaps off your body with a force and vigour that makes people to look twice.
And this is the result of a unique combination of innate skill and artistic ability – something that can’t be taught; an artist either has it or doesn’t.
So, yes, it is important to keep an eye on the price of your tattoo; but more crucial is to know for sure that your artist can deliver on these key aspects of your tattoo experience.
The old quote has it spot on: “The bitterness of a poor-quality tattoo will linger long after the sweetness of a cheap price is forgotten.”