Business of tattoos: Patterns of money

Sep 15 2013, 12:51 IST
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Till about a decade ago, tattoo business was not considered a commercially viable option. Oinam Anand Till about a decade ago, tattoo business was not considered a commercially viable option. Oinam Anand
SummaryBusiness of tattoos is not skin deep. Tattoo studios to institutes charge up to Rs 1 lakh as course fees.

For many, tattoos are a form of art or a fashion statement. For others, they can even be a way of life or a medium of self-expression. Yet, for a select, but growing lot, they are also turning out to be a lucrative career option.

Ask Sailesh Gopi, 28, and you’ll know. A bachelor’s degree holder in visual arts, the Bangalore resident always wanted to do something creative, especially using the body as a canvas. As a college-going youngster a decade ago, he’d often scribble designs and figurines on his arms. A chance encounter with

Girish S, a well-known tattoo artist of those days, transported him to the world of indelible inks and image insertions. There were not too many tattoo training centres then, but an impressed Girish decided to take Gopi under his wings. Today, Gopi is a successful tattoo artist earning as much as a lakh per month.

The same story goes for Jasmer Singh, 22, who wanted to become a tattoo artist since his school days, but had to restrict himself in the absence of any formal training institute. Singh started working with a BPO, but soon came to know about Ink Inn Tattoo Studio in Delhi, where he trained for a couple of years. Singh is now working at the studio’s Rajouri Garden branch, earning satisfaction as well as money, probably more than what he was getting at the BPO.

Till about a decade ago, tattooing was not considered a commercially viable option and was just an upcoming art. So enthusiasts like Gopi and Singh had no other option but to wait for the right time and the right place to fulfill their dreams.

Back to the present, and the numbers speak for themselves. Although there is no official outline on the size of the tattoo industry in India, the figure, along with the popularity, has only been rising over the years. As per an estimate, there were just about 5,000 tattoo parlours in the country a decade ago, which grew to 14,000 by 2012.

Looking at the trend, and the increasing demand from enthusiasts, many tattoo studios in Delhi, as well as other parts of the country like Bangalore, Mumbai and even the North-east, have opened training centres for aspiring tattoo artists.

Lokesh Verma, who started Devil'z Tattooz in 2003, says, “It’s better to learn something professionally, especially when someone’s skin is involved permanently. Without proper training, there are

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