Tattoo has finally come of age in the country. From cricketers to actors, everybody today is looking to get inked. But there are certain dos and don’ts that one must follow, tattoo artist MAX in the Capital tells SHALINI SAKSENA
Getting inked is not uncommon in India. Remember how some of the women who used to come home to work for us, had some kind of inscription on their hand; in most cases, it was the name of their husband that would be engraved on their arm. The men on the other hand would get their name inked. Back then, it was one colour – a blue-green. And it is not just in India where tattoos were popular. Both men and women in ancient Egyptian societies had tattoos.
However, the art form has undergone a sea change, says Max, founder and lead tattoo artist at Inkinn Tattoo Studio in the Capital. He tells you that when he began tattooing more than a decade back, he had to struggle a lot in order to find out what the industry is all about. “There is a reason why I started Inkinn. I find that there are many people who want to become a tattoo artist. There are people who profess that they can teach a person to become a tattoo artist in a month. But it is not true. Unfortunately, they don’t understand that this art form is not just about art; there is science behind this art since one is dealing with the body. One has to understand how each body is different from the other and reacts differently. There is technology involved as well. New things are coming out all the time; one has to be up to date with what is happening globally,” Max says.
The tattoo can’t be taught in 15 days, he tells you. One can not even teach a beginner how to use the needle, let alone the art, he says. “Our aim is to teach people to be good artists. Tattoo, is not done properly can look like an ugly scar. It is permanent ink on your ski. You can’t throw it away if one doesn’t like it. Tattoo is an expensive art. Just to set up a table, the cost is huge. So even if someone wanted a dot tattooed, it would cost money. But there are some people who use a stencil and will charge `500 even for a big tattoo. Their aim is to make money. They would really not bother much with how the ink would react or how it would look 10 years down the line. My academy focuses on making people who want to learn this art to approach this profession in the right manner and make this sector, which has till now remained unorganised, more organised. Tattoo is a lucrative career. It can take you all over the world. There is job satisfaction as well when someone says ‘what a beautiful tattoo’,” Max says
The reason why some people will offer the same tattoo at a lower cost than others is due to several reasons. First, the product itself. What kind of needles are being used. Surgical grid needles are expensive and need to be imported. Second, hygiene level. Third, there is a risk factor. One is using skin as a canvas. A wrong line can ruin a tattoo. Higher the risk, more the money charged. Fourth, tattooing as an art form is a very precise job. It takes time to get a tattoo.
“If a person comes to me that requires 10-hour work, I have to first spend 24 hours preparing for the same. I have to charge for the time that I spent. Hence the charges are on hour basis or inch basis. What one is being charged is the skill and know-how of the artist and not the material that goes into making a tattoo. The more skilled an artist, more the charges. I use my experience to tell the person how the tattoo will look five years down the line,” Max says.
He tells you that the growing popularity of this art has picked up from the time tattoo started getting recognised as art. Two decades back, one would find a person doing tattoos in a mela. But slowly, artists realised that this art can be done on skin as well. With newage artists, tattoos started gaining prominence and one could make good money. Also, before tattoos were associated with criminals and gangsters. But things have changed today. Tattoo is an art that is to be appreciated since it is art,” Max tells you whose journey as an artist began after he had got a tattoo done. Before he became a tattoo artist, Max completed his MBA in finance and was a branch manager with a stock broking company.
He became a tattoo artist by choice and not because he had no work. His father was in the Army and when he quit his well-paying job, people had thought he had gone crazy. He lost his friends. He had to struggle a lot and he was judged for quitting. It took him more than a year to set himself up. He used to love to draw. When he got his own tattoo, he had a calling. He decided to do where he was happy.
“Being a tattoo artist is what makes me happy. I travel and have clients all over and love to see my creation come alive. I am passionate about this art form. I hate it when I see a bad tattoo. I want to change people’s perception about this art. Having a tattoo doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t have the necessary skills to do a job. Just because I eat a certain kind of food, doesn’t mean that the person will be bad at this job. There are doctors abroad who are full sleeves; there are soldiers who have tattoos. This doesn’t stop them from doing their job well,” Max says.