BENGALURU: Memes, graffiti, paintings, comics... COVID-19 has played muse to all sorts of art forms. It was only a matter of time before the outbreak inspired a wave of tattoos and body art. Take, for instance, Kaushik Thangathurai, an avid trekker who was all geared up to get his love for travel tattooed on himself. But the two-month-long lockdown gave him added perspective for his first tattoo. Come Wednesday, the city-based software professional will head to Machu Tattoo Studio to pay ode to these unprecedented times by getting inked with a COVID-inspired design.
While the final sketch is still a work in progress, Thangathurai wants the idea to portray the virus with a masked face. “I wanted something that shows the extent to which coronavirus has been unleashed on our bodies as well as our minds,” says the 29-year-old, who was also inspired by a small act of kindness amid the initial days of the outbreak. “I could not find a mask anywhere. One pharmacist, however, gave me the mask he had kept aside for himself,” adds Thangathurai as he talks about how the item is an essential part of the “new normal.” He isn’t the only one being inspired by the pandemic.
Girish, the owner of Brahma Tattoo Studio, recalls how one of his recent clients – a software professional in his mid-twenties – came in with a similar idea. The 3-4 inch design showed a broken chain with the text: ‘Break the chain stay safe’. “He said the whole scenario was something people hadn’t witnessed before,” says Girish. While Skindeep Tattoo Studio’s Akil Anand feels it is too early to call it a trend, he does anticipate people to opt for inking experiences faced during the lockdown in the coming months. “It’s been an intense period so maybe one might lock in on a design that captures what they went through,” he says.
Tattoo parlours have slowly started to limp back towards normalcy. Anyway known for their hygiene and sterilisation practices, artists are now doubling down on the safety measures taken by them. For example, Skindeep is now asking those accompanying the client to wait outdoors, while also using a UVC sterilisation bulb in the evening. At Brahma studio, customers have to use W95 or N95 masks. “We also ask them to get the Aarogya Setu app and have them wait for 30 minutes before we do a temperature scan,” says Girish. Machu studio founder Suresh Machu says design consultations are mainly happening online and intensive sanitisation takes place when a client (appointments only) come in. “We use aluminium foil to cover our workstation and cling wrap to cover the arm rest, skin markers and the customer’s cell phone,” he says.
For tattoo “addicts” like Ashwin Sasidharan who has two tattoos, including a full sleeve, wearing a mask does cause discomfort but the excitement involved has kept him going. Having waited since March, the marketing professional was one of the first few customers Skindeep saw post reopening. “I had to wait for the tattoo to heal before I could add the missing elements. I’m glad I finally got to finish the sleeve tattoo,” he says.
Designs inspired by corona
● Earth with a mask
● Coronavirus with toilet paper
● Sanitiser showers
● A quote about how one saved the world by sitting at home
— Suresh Machu, tattoo artist