THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The 21st century just came of age and we’ve seen millennials taking up everything from internet memes to tv shows in the past 17 years. Besides trends set by dizzying internet speeds, the young crowd has also rekindled interest in various seasoned styles like Boho clothing. In the search for an assertion of the mantra of individuality, Generation Y has embraced the indelible inking tradition of human ancestors.
The advancement in technology has unquestionably helped bring more visibility to the art form and has definitely aided its exponential diversification, with many sketching styles equipped to be transformed into skin art. As India gets ready for the first international tattoo convention of the year in Goa—the closest it has ever got to South India—we catch up with some of the artists to see what they’ll bring to the fete.
The perception towards tattooing has definitely become warmer in the previous decade. Hear it from veteran Jocke Hultman who’s been practising the art since 1988 from his multiple studios in Sweden, “Although I kind of liked it (the tattoo scene) when it was a bit of an underground affair, the art aspects of it are definitely better now.” According to the machine-wielder who’s preparing for Goa, tattooing is also losing its negative aura of being the forte of criminals and outlaws.
“In Sweden today all categories of people are embracing the art. I have even worked on a few priests.” What more is to be said when Jocke—who is renowned for getting his name in the Guinness World Records in 2011 for the longest tattoo on a single person which took 48 hours and 15 minutes—considers his elder son joining the studio as an apprentice the favourite milestone in his career. The travelling tattooist—who prefers working freehand over pre-drawn designs—also believes that the camaraderie among artists in the international scene is growing, which is in turn giving birth to innovative designs and even styles through collaborative projects.
Tie it up
Kaos Theory Project from another touring artist called Ryan Smith is an example of this. The two-year-old collaboration scheme pairs the best tattooists practising different styles to create bespoke pieces. “It affords the artists a creative freedom while amalgamating their own unique style into the mix to create something amazing with their partners.
They get to learn from one another in how each other designs and maybe one such pairing will create the next big thing,” says UK-based Ryan, who’s nicknamed ‘The Scientist’ for experimentally blending styles like dotwork with Asian henna patterns. Citing his homeland virtuosos including Bez—who is visiting Goa to attend the third edition of this festival, keen on inking abstract and bio style works—as an inspiration, this multiple award-winning ink expert is sure to astound Indian enthusiasts for the first time with his 3D versions of traditional motifs like roses.
The lineup of nearly 70 dye etchers features colour enthusiasts as well as black-and-grey fanciers. “I love working with colour, but with the Indian skin tone, it’s difficult to show the brightness of some pigments. So I’m trying to add flavour to black-and-grey with Indian collectors,” informs Ireland-based Soydan Tuc, who’s flying to India for the third time. However, everyone agrees that realism will continue to be the craze in 2018, with everyone competing to make their art closer to life.
Exponents of the style including Dublin-based celebrity Remis and hyperreal gemstone engraver Jenna Kerr will make Tito’s Arena in Baga an interesting place to be. “It’s a different perspective to see tattoos as a trend; I don’t. How the art evolves depends on the client and the artist,” says Nepali trailblazer John Ma, keeping aside all ‘what’s in vogue’ questions and leaving a breathing space for the art to take its course. From January 12-14. At Tito’s New Arena, Goa.