Whatever I have achieved today is all because of my mother,” says international tattoo artist Vikas Malani, Founder of Body Canvas Tattoos. “Her principals have helped me reach where I have in my life today,” he says.
From a small outlet that Malani Mumbai’s Andheri suburb in 2003 to today when he owns four huge spaces in India (one each at Pedder Road, Bandra and Malad in Mumbai and Houz Khas Village in Delhi), one in London, and talks are on for one in Sweden, Malani sure has come a long way.Reminiscing about his mother, Ganga, Malani says that she had a strong business acumen even though she wasn’t well-qualified. “She knew how to save money and how to makeit grow.”
Since childhood, Malani was interested in sketching and drawing though becoming a tattoo artist was not something he had planned for himself. He just went with the flow of life and did what life offered him. “Mom always told me that there is nothing called ‘second innings’. We only have one life, and we have to make the most of it. That’s what I did.”
As a child, Malani used to visit Pushkar where his masi (mon’s sister) stayed. Inspired by the hippies he saw in Pushkar, he started painting his body with acrylic colours and drew huge appreciation. Back home in Mumbai, he started making similar tattoos for kids at birthday parties in the neighbourhood. “Since my father had suffered a huge loss in business, we had a hand-to-mouth existence. By making tattoos for kids, I could supplement family income.”
Malani continued to earn this way throughout school and college. Though he charged `200-250 per tattoo, he still wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to have a strong career, and on the advice of his mother took up a call centre job. “I feel it was providence. It was a pharmaceutical company call centre wherein I learned a lot about skin infections and skin medicines.”
Then again, as per his mom’s wishes, Malani opened his first tattoo studio at Andheri, Mumbai, in 2003. Soon after, his mother passed away after an asthma attack.“My whole life changed. I realised my mom wanted something more from me. I could have wallowed in self-pity and lost myself in my mom’s memories, but her words of encouragement kept ringing in my ears. I decided to become what my mom wanted me to be. She would often say. ‘One day, you’ll become a very rich man,’ Her words have come true.”
Looking back, he feels his mom left him for a reason. “I think she felt I wasn’t moving ahead in my life and needed a jolt. Kam khao par apna khao; Kam kharcha karo par apna kharcha karo; move ahead step by step, don’t jump are some of the nuggets of knowledge she gave me. And till today I follow her words,” he says.
Today, Malani is a celebrated tattoo artist adept at linework, dotwork, freestyle, traditional designs, water colour and geometric tattoos. He has made 1000s of tattoos, and creates more than 150 types of body piercing. He specialises in cosmetic tattoos, portraits, realism and facial piercings. He has done piercings for celebrities like Shibani Dandekar, Rhea Chakraborty and Prince Narula among others. And he also runs training courses for those interested in learning this art.
“I dedicate my success to my mother. Everything that I have achieved today is only because of her. She has been my shining star and my guiding light. I believe that my mother is one constant in my life, and will always be there for me no matter what and that is why I have etched her in my heart and on my skin as well,” he signs off.