An unusual career option

Vikas Malani working on a tattoo at his studio in Mumbai. He has been in this profession since 2001.

Vikas Malani, a celebrity tattoo artist and founder of BodyCanvas Tattoos located in Mumbai, Delhi and London, talks to Smitha Verma

Question: What kind of training does a tattoo artist need to undergo?

Vikas Malani: The tattoo artist has to undergo two types of training-

ARTISTIC SKILLS: These are related to tattoos which includes creativity, understanding of different types of genres in tattooing, use of different types of needles and machine technology and drawing skills. A tattoo artist needs to understand the basics of shapes, designs, a decent knowledge of different tattoo designs and styles. Learning any form of art based subject in college would help with the basics

INTERPERSONAL SKILLS: Good communication skills, soft skills, patience, after-sale service, empathy and presence of mind.

Q: What personality attributes one needs to possess to excel in this field?

VM: Discipline, hygiene and good customer service are a must. One should also be energetic, expressive and easily approachable since a lot of times there are clients who are shy and reserved and they deserve a very suitable tattoo as it would help them along the journey.

Q: Does one need to be creative to make a mark?

VM: Yes, by all means being creative would be the soul of the profession if they want to create a brand and sustain in the competitive market.

Q: Are there any avenues to gain training and then work before setting up own shop?

VM: Growth comes with consistency, practice and maintaining a rapport with your clients. It’s very easy now to find apprenticeship programmes at most professional studios. We at BodyCanvas Tattoos also provide professional tattoo training and offer job placements.

Q: How can one start one’s own studio in Delhi? What kind of investment is required?

VM: You will be ready to establish your own tattoo studio once you understand your role after a minimum experience of four to five years. You need a good location with most basic amenities for your studio, plus a professional tattoo store equipment set up would get the store up and running within a few months. A minimum capital of Rs 10 lakhs is required to open a professional set up.

Q: Are there franchisee options available?

VM: Yes, most established professional studios might consider investing in a franchisee preferably upcoming cities in across the country.

Q: What is the amount of money that one starts making at the beginning of this career? What are the growth prospects?

VM: India has the largest population in the world and therefore it’s a booming market for the tattooing industry. One can start earning a minimum of Rs 20,000 per month and go up to Rs 2 lakhs depending on the tattoo artist’s forte and experience.

Q: A bit about yourself? How did you start? What all the work you have done?

VM: Having no formal training in fine art, my passion for art led me to start sketching at an early age. I progressed to body painting and developed a taste for temporary tattoos in 1998. I decided to take tattooing and piercings professionally and was trained under a Spanish tattoo artist and in 2003, ‘BodyCanvas’ was launched with my brother Micky Malani as my partner. I have worked on all styles of tattoos, from old school to realism.