BENGALURU: Graphic designer Trisha G got a tattoo on her sternum area three weeks ago. It was the first time she was meeting the tattoo artist and was skeptical like many women tend to be ahead of getting inked. But she did her research and got recommendations from friends who have worked with the artist previously.
“There’s always a nagging worry when you have to go into a closed space, especially as a woman. When I went to get this particular tattoo done, I chose a private room. Before I undressed for the work to start, I glanced around and sighed in relief when I realised that there was a camera — that’s when I felt safe,” recalls Trisha, who has seven tattoos.
So why are women anxious when they go to a tattoo artist? Recently, news broke out about a Kerala tattoo artist who was accused of sexually abusing multiple women.
There were two First Information Reports (FIR) filed against him after six women complained about inappropriate behaviour.
“Honestly, I was scared when I read the news. The woman’s post sounded similar. My first thought was that I’m grateful to have not had a bad experience yet,” says Trisha.
Karthik Bengre, founder of Sculp Tattoo Studio in Koramangala, points out that most women approach tattoo artists only if they have already worked with them before or know someone else who has.
“It’s a matter of safety and comfort. It’s both the job of the artist and the client to be at ease through the process because there can be designs that are placed in explicit spots, and even a small movement of the hand can give the wrong idea,” he explains, adding that he asks clients to wear comfortable clothing, and/or covers other parts with tissue.
Sarah Thomas (name changed for privacy reasons) recalls a time when she was uncomfortable during a session. “I was getting a tattoo on my back. I was uncomfortable at first but the tattoo artist kept asking if I was doing fine. That somehow gave me some assurance. Even a slight wind and you tend to think something else might be happening. I had to repeatedly tell the artist to stop for some time and then resume,” she explains, adding that a session that was for two hours took an hour longer to ensure she was comfortable.
Bengre says that wireless tattoo tools now give more flexibility for artists to finish their work. “You can move around freely and sometimes even draw upside down but the tool gives you the flexibility to work better,” he says, adding that more than women, most men are shy to undress for tattoos.
Tattoo artist Chirag Rao of Skin Deep Tattoo Studio in Indiranagar suggests bringing a friend along during appointments. “Not a crowd but always bring one person along with you. When you come in for a consultation, figure out which artist is the one you want to work with. Check reviews of the place, check for cameras, how long it might take, and get to know about the people who work at the studio,” he says.
Rao adds that the safety of the tattoo artist is also important during every appointment. “Very often, we’ve seen the client also misbehaving with the artist. We make sure that these situations are handled carefully. We also have a form that allows both clients and artists to complain within 30 days if some unforeseen incident has happened. With a functioning camera available, it also gives us the assurance that there’s proof if needed,” he says.