Beauty and hair salons are back in business, thanks to the wedding season, but many tattoo studios are still struggling to get work. Vansh Chhabra of Pigment-ed Tattoo Studio, Lajpat Nagar, says, “Business for us has been fine, but I know a lot of studio owners who are badly affected. A friend of mine, who owned a studio, committed suicide as he could not afford to pay the shop’s rent. We had staged a protest against people who continued to force tenants to pay the rent, even after his death.”
Before the pandemic, BodyCanvas Tattoos & Piercing Studio, Hauz Khas, used to get 10-12 customers per day.
“Now it’s just two-three people, who have been our regular customers,” says Founder Vikas Malani.
After the government had announced the unlock, the studios needed some time to notify people, observe people’s response, and prepare to resume operations. Malani says, “We took our time to prepare and opened shop in the first week of August. But people are still scared and only step out for necessary needs. When it comes to tattoo studios, people visit only if it is really required.”
Lokesh Verma of Devil’s Tattooz says his business is just one-third of what it was before the lockdown. “As a precaution, we are still booking one appointment per artist,” he adds.
Studio owners have also reduced staff strength. Pigment-ed has been doing 50-60 tattoos a month now, though that is just 50 per cent of what it was in 2019, shares Chhabra. So he is managing with three artists, after saying goodbye to one. BodyCanvas Tattoos & Piercing Studio is also working with half the strength. Seven-year-old Capital Ink Tattoos at Connaught Place that had eight artists, is now operating with five. “Artists are paid on a percentage basis.
Now that there is no work, how will we pay them?” adds owner Anuj Kumar. Devil’z Tattooz has sustained its crew “but we call them only according to their appointments to avoid a crowded studio,” adds Verma. Damanpreet Singh of Sea of Ink Tattoo Studio, Hauz Khas, who works alone, calls in artists on a commission basis only when he needs extra hands.
Devil’s Tattooz does not allow customers without a mask and has made shoe covers mandatory before entry. “Clients’ hands are sanitised, temperature is checked, and only after doing this, we move forward with the procedure,” says Verma.
Singh of Sea of Ink Tattoo Studio, says that every tattoo station and equipment after use was sanitised and sterilised before COVID. So nothing has changed much for us,” he adds.
Chhabra of Pigment-ed ensures the needles are opened in front of the clients after showing them the expiry dates.
“All used items are disposed immediately after the tattoo is done,” adds Chhabra.
At BodyCanvas, wearing a mask and sanitising hands before tattooing and piercing is compulsory for the staff as well as clients. Malani says, “We sanitise all the touch-points of our studio after every two to three hours.”
No more impulsive tattoos
People, who would walk in on a whim to get a tattoo, will not be entertained. Verma says, “We usually confirm an appointment two days prior so that the particular artist is available on the day of the appointment.”
No offers, discounts
Malani says, “We interact with customers on social media and explain that our studio is safe for them. If required, we ask people to visit the studio once to ensure the safety measure and our safe service. We are not pushing anyone.”
Some are not giving offers, citing safety reasons. “You know COVID is still rampant. Moreover, our work speaks for itself,” adds Verma.