As I stepped into the neat looking, forlorn tattoo shop cozily tucked between a sweet shop and a real estate office, I stumbled upon a pretty looking girl sitting on the tool. For a moment, I thought she was just another girl waiting there to get a tattoo. I was wrong! She stood up and offered me a seat. It was then I realized that there are girls in India who dare dream to dream big.
My twenty minute chit-chat with this budding lady tattoo artist from North Delhi left me relishing with a bizarre medley of emotions. I was startled at her confidence, impressed with her exuberance and flummoxed at the paradoxes of Indian tattoo industry. Shruti is 17, bubbling with passion yet in command of the practical realities that stand in the way of every tattoo artist. I know she is genuine when she gleefully accepts the fact that while she can afford to chase her passions as a tattoo artist, there are many who do not get the financial cushion to follow their dreams. It is then I realize that the girl did not harbor some airy-fairy notions rather she has a firm footing over the stark realities of life.
I do not know why but the ambiance made me feel happy and secured. I could feel the vibes- some pleasant, honest vibes. It was then I began talking with Shruti.
- ME – Hi Shruti! It’s so nice to find a lady tattoo artist in the making. We are not far from having our own Kat von D.!
- Shruti – Oh! It’s so nice of you. Yeh! I had this opportunity to follow my desires and dreams as I did not have to face the financial constraints. You see I am just 17 and I do not waste time thinking over the past. I always knew what I loved and what I wanted to be. I have been learning tattoo art since the age of 14. It will pay me one day. I believe.
- ME – That’s great! And where do you find the Indian tattoo industry?
- Shruti – It’s still a toddler, if not in its infancy! What I feel is that tattoo art’s acceptance has a direct relation with the value system of the society in which we live in. That said, it is also a fact that Indian tattoo art is getting popular acceptance day by day and many youngsters are turning up for getting inked.
- ME – Which sort of people do you encounter most?
- Shruti – Mostly youngsters, especially those who are under twenty. You do not find many grownups turning up for the tattoo as they are tied down by their morality and conservative thought process. I won’t say there is anything wrong in sticking to traditions but change cannot be stifled for long.
- ME – What about the general level of awareness about Tattoo hygiene related issues?
- Shruti – It is abysmally low. Very few people ask us about the hygiene issues. It is simply not there in the public conscience. Yet, we, at ‘TATTOOS’ do care to tell them all that we can about hygiene related issues.
Shruti hands me a card of her tattoo shop. It has got a few points regarding tattoo after-care on the back side. I take it, mighty pleased with her efforts. There is always a silver lining amidst the darkest of clouds.
- ME – From where do you draw the inspirations for tattoo designs?
- Shruti – It’s all there over the internet. Apart from this we do have a vast range of temporary tattoo designs. Most of the people who visit our tattoo shop ask us to do a temporary tattoo. As far as permanent tattoos are concerned, very few people ask for it as they think it is a very clumsy procedure that requires a lot of time.
- ME– In a country where it is very hard to notch name and fame in offbeat careers, where do you find Tattoo Art going?
- Shruti – You cannot predict anything. May be tattoo art in India is there to stay forever or maybe it will just evaporate say some twenty years down the line! Who knows? But looking at the current trends, one can say that India will witness the flooding of many talented tattoo artists. Change is here and it is here to stay.
- ME- What are the institutional problems associated with Tattooing in India?
- Shruti- There is many. You do not have a proper professional training or course, it is hard to gauge the credentials of the artists, plus there is no defined way of tattoo apprenticeship. Nothing is organized. As a tattoo artist, I feel the constant need of a multiplatform dedicated to address the needs of tattoo artists and shops. We need a mouthpiece, a set up which can promote our interests in a holistic manner.
- ME – Do you ever feel the need of online promotion?
- Shruti – You see, I have got my own website, BlogSpot and a separate page on my facebook profile. But I feel helpless about the visibility. I wish I could get more online exposure.
I would have loved to chat with this promising young artistic talent but there is a 6.25 PM Madagascar-3 show which I cannot leave. So I bid adieu to Shruti, who is brimming with excitement. She wishes me luck and I just wish that we get India’s answer to KAT VON D – WORLD’S GREATEST TATTOO ARTIST!! As I step out of this neatly maintained small tattoo shop, I realize Happy Days are not far behind!
In case you can suggest me any other tattoo artist whom you want me to interview, call me at 9953236758 or write at firstname.lastname@example.org.