For many, tattoos are associated with taboos and pain. But, they are much more than that. For a practice that has been going on for thousands of years and one that the bearer carries with them throughout their lives, this art form is intimate and has a very strong emotional connection.
Kolkata has many tattoo studios, but a studio is only as good as its artists. If you are unsure about how to go about getting a tattoo, here are some top tattoo artists from the city demystifying the art form and what you should keep in mind before getting inked.
Niloy Das — Lizard's Skin Tattoos
Niloy Das’ love of art was nurtured by his father, who was a painter. Niloy began his own journey as a tattoo artist in 2010 by creating tattoos for his friends. He saved up money and started Lizard's Skin Tattoos.
“My father pushed me to take this up as a profession. I saw a friend do a hand-poked tattoo while I was in high school. That got me interested in the art,” said Niloy.
Talking about the change in attitude in the last decade towards tattooing, he said, “People used to be very sceptical about it, or go for generic tattoo designs found on the internet or on celebrities. However, now, people take the time and put a lot of thought into the design, which is great.”
Niloy believes that the vibe of a tattoo studio should always be positive and upbeat, as it helps centre one’s self before getting inked. He feels that a collaboration between the artist and the one getting tattooed is important because that ensures artwork both will be proud of.
Niloy’s Tips: Be sure of the subject or design of your tattoo and choose the artist wisely. Pay heed to your gut feeling because it’s your own tattoo and always keep the hygiene and safety aspects of tattooing in mind.
Sukanya Roy — Inkdom Tattoo Studio
Sukanya is self-confessedly ‘unsocial’ and always wanted her own space to work and create. In her third year of college, she got interested in tattoos after accompanying her friend to a parlour. Soon, she developed a keen interest and passion for the art, so much so that she decided to take up tattooing as her profession.
“I decided to take up tattooing on a full-time basis after I completed my masters course. I was done with all my planned academic courses and I was free to put all my heart and soul into this business. The positive response from my clients also triggered me to take this step,” says Sukanya.
She said conventions helped her learn the art initially, after which her friends from the tattooing community helped hone her skills.
“My studio is my favourite place on earth. I am an avid traveller and I keep collecting souvenirs from different places. My studio is now a museum of such collections. Many people have told me the studio looks like a place from the mountains. That was the whole purpose,” Sukanya said.
Sukanya’s Tips: Do some research on the artist. It must be someone who understands their style of art. And apart from the do's and don'ts of getting a tattoo, one should make sure the design is meaningful to the person getting inked.
Sid Thapa — Calcutta Ink Tattoo Studio
Sid ThapaMurgub Ali
Calcutta Ink Tattoo Studio was started by Sid Thapa, an artist and collector, in 2009, with the sole objective to “bring a new level of artistic creativity”. His interest in tattoos stemmed from his interest in art. In 2007, Sid researched the art form, learnt it himself and founded the studio two years later.
“I was always involved with art, so I decided to make a handmade tattoo machine and started doodling on my friends’ skin. It was tough initially, but I never lost hope and never looked back,” said Sid.
“We strictly are a non-commercial tattoo studio. Our studio is based in the heart of south Kolkata. We care about the quality, health and safety, and privacy of our clients. We have won awards in national and international conventions, but that is not as important as the relationship and love we have for this art form. So, we always strive to make the artwork magical,” he said.
Sid’s Tips: Check the studio’s cleanliness and hygiene standards, be fully sure of what you are getting inked and strictly follow the aftercare instructions.
Anjan Pradhan — Unik Ink Tattoo Studio
Anjan PradhanSagar Mali
Anjan Pradhan started Unik Ink Tattoo Studio in 2013 after working and training at other studios. “I got my inspiration from shows like Miami Ink and LA Ink. Those television shows inspired me to start tattooing. I used to sketch a lot, so I thought of giving it a try,” he said.
Reminiscing about his early days, Anjan said, “Back when I started, there were not many artists who could teach me and neither did I have the money to pay them. I am self-taught and the guidance from many senior artists helped me along, as did lots of dedication to the craft.”
Anjan’s Tips: Before getting inked, do your research and check the artist's portfolio. Don’t drink alcohol before getting the tattoo and don’t get inked on an empty stomach.