By N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe
December 7, 2019 (IANSlife) Vikas Malani, founder of BodyCanvas Tattoos and Piercings, has worked with many big names in the entertainment industry and with acid attack survivors. The celebrity tattoo artist is also an expert in the field of cosmetic and clinical tattoos and piercings. Vikas gets candid with IANSlife, sharing details about his journey, tattoo hygiene and a lot more.
How did it all begin and what about it draws you to tattoos?
Vikas: I use to sketch in my book, which made me realise that I love working as an artist. I did not know what if I should label it as a profession though. In college, I used to sit in the canteen, classroom and keep drawing. One day the cultural committee saw my designs and asked me to represent the college. This was the turning point for me and I went with the flow, never looking back. This is what influenced me to make a career in my art. Today I've been tattooing for almost a decade now.
How long does it take you to do one art piece?
Vikas: It depends on the design, sometimes I take two or three days on the same person; if its a large one on the back it may take up to six months. Now I have a big team working with me and have limited myself to selectively working as I want my team to grow. What I do now is the grooming and the development of my team.
What are some of your favourite pieces that you’ve created?
Vikas: I Love doing Viking tattoos, influenced by culture. One of my favourites is the mask of "Odin" the god of Viking, which took me two and a half days.
Has there been any awkward moments with clients?
Vikas: Yes, I've had so many awkward moments. The craziest one happened to me when I had to tattoo someone's private parts. It's a crazy way to say it but for me, it's just a body part.
What quality of ink do you use and what is the potential risk of unhygienic ink?
Vikas: Recently there had been an incident which happened in the United States and in the United Kingdom where the ink was banned because microorganism bacteria was found in it. Many suppliers sell ink that has no gamma radiation which is what kills the bacteria during the process of packaging. To cut the cost of the radiation process and make high profits, suppliers sell unsterilized inks. A lot of discontinued ink from abroad is dumped to sellers in India.
I've never been a fan of that ink since day one because when someone is giving you a cheaper rate for something there has to be a catch. I did my research and realized I don't want to use this ink. I use sensitised ink in all my outlets so my clients get the best quality. If there are micro bacteria in the ink it may lead to a fatal injury and we don't want to take the risk.
The ink I use is cruelty free, organic, gamma radiation and Certified in Transportation and Logistics (CTL). I bring my ink from abroad anything that is not certified I do not buy or use. I follow this as the basic minimum standard of the medical government of India.
How has been the experience working with the acid attack survivors?
Vikas: When I met and communicated with the acid attack victims, I could not imagine the amount of pain and agony they must have had and to still endure. I thought to myself what can one do about this? I realized that they have a lot of potential and creativity in them with the determination to achieve something, so I imparted my knowledge of tattooing to them. For the ones that didn’t want to learn to tattoo, I gave them administrative and managerial training so that they could at least take on the role of a studio manager. The acid attack victims are provided free training across all BodyCanvas Studios, once they have learnt the necessary skills they are free to join any of the studios as an employee. This is my way of giving it back to society.
What is the expected tattoo trend of 2020?
Vikas: Tattoo is also like fashion, the most trending pieces now are "line art ", "spiritual", "mandala" tattoos. We are traditional people and India has a lot of customs, traditions and colours; with the change in time the expected trend for 2020 will be the "colour tattoo".
“Tattooing as a career opportunity for aspirants”, your comments?
Vikas: Tattooing comes with years of practice and learning new skills. I would advise them not to rush into it but rather take a pause and observe as well as understand that tattooing is not a profession, it is an art. Art needs patience and a lot of dedication with hard work.
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N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org