When Lokesh, an award-winning skilled tattoo artist, determined that he was going to study the artwork of creating tattoos by himself, there was no YouTube or Google to fall again on. This was the early 2000s, and he had no idols, reference movies or materials to confer with. The one factor he had was ardour to change into a prime tattoo artist, and the mandatory expertise to do it.
The sturdy perception he had in himself was the explanation he was capable of afford his creative goals. He took up numerous odd jobs, reminiscent of mopping flooring and flipping burgers in McDonald’s, so he might buy a tattoo machine and fund his MBA course.
For the following few years, Lokesh rigorously learnt tips on how to make innumerable tattoos utilizing the machine, and even paid his buddies to let him observe on them. In 2008, he opened his studio in South Delhi’s Higher Kailash space, and there was no trying again since.
Quick ahead to 2021, Lokesh is thought throughout the globe for his color realism tattoos and portraits, and owns three studios. He has travelled to fifteen international locations for numerous initiatives and holds a Guinness world report for tattooing the utmost quantity (199) of flags on a human physique.
“Once I determined to enter the tattoo business, it was very area of interest and there have been hardly any skilled artists. I wished to etch my title as a pioneering artist. I knew it wouldn’t be simple, contemplating my father had retired from the military and my mom was a faculty trainer. My goals have been removed from my actuality. So as an alternative of fixing my goals, I modified my actuality,” Lokesh tells The Higher India.
Lokesh has a quintessential rags-to-riches story which will appear biopic-worthy, however beneath this fame lies the hard-hitting actuality of a boy who actually studied underneath avenue lights and took up jobs throughout school to assist his household.
Giving wings to childhood goals
Lokesh was artistically inclined at the same time as a toddler, and beloved drawing and colouring on any form of surfaces, be it papers, partitions or college desks. He grew up in a one-bedroom home in an unauthorised colony in Delhi, the place the constructing obtained energy for under three hours a day. Lokesh remembers judiciously utilizing these three hours to finish his homework and giving time to the factor he beloved essentially the most — drawing.
He would paint solely when there was energy, to make sure the portray dried shortly. If there was no electrical energy put up sundown, he would silently sneak out of the home, discover a quiet nook close to a avenue mild and begin drawing. His distinctive drawing expertise made up for the common marks Lokesh obtained in exams. His dad and mom by no means complained or chided him for not being a topper. They have been blissful that their son was engaged in artwork and dealing on mastering it.
“I bear in mind making sketches on my desk and when there was no room left, my bench accomplice fortunately supplied his desk. When even that area was full, I used his bag additionally to attract,” Lokesh recollects.
Regardless of his creative prowess, he by no means thought-about himself an artist, or thought of making a profession out of it, even after profitable the primary prize within the Inter-Asia portray competitors.
“After retirement, my father labored in a safety division, and my mom would train 20 youngsters to earn Rs 100 a day. I don’t bear in mind going to a restaurant until the time I used to be in school. I noticed my dad and mom wrestle each day and work endlessly to coach my sister and me. I knew drawing wouldn’t fetch me cash, and that I wanted a steady mainstream job to enhance our monetary situation,” he says.
After finishing his education he took admission in Delhi College in 2000, and likewise took up a cleansing job at McDonald’s. Via his undergrad, he switched just a few jobs, one in all which was to promote film CDs, the place he ended up making excessive gross sales. This tweaked his curiosity in advertising and marketing, and Lokesh determined to pursue an MBA diploma after commencement.
“My MBA days have been very hectic, as courses could be held from 8 am to 12 pm, put up which I might be on my job until 7 within the night. After that, I might carry out at just a few music gigs to earn extra cash. Weekends have been the one time I needed to discover completely different mediums of artwork. A kind of weekends, I got here throughout a tattoo parlour. I used to be fascinated by the designs,” he says.
Along with his financial savings, he purchased a tattoo machine. Lokesh says this was one factor he was not doing with any ulterior aim — it could be his personal work, minus the stress of incomes cash. He started with none actual street map, and didn’t even know tips on how to insert the needle within the machine. Regardless, he gracefully adopted his dream. Quickly, requests from buddies began pouring in.
When he ran out of fabric and inputs reminiscent of needles and ink for the machine, he began charging a minimal quantity for tattoos. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than folks started noticing the boy from a Delhi neighbourhood who possessed a particular ability. Lokesh takes delight in telling me that every one the advertising and marketing for his artwork was executed via phrase of mouth. He by no means took efforts to publicise his art work.
“I used to be capable of produce good work solely as a result of I had a backup plan of an MBA, and a supportive household. My dad by no means hesitated to provide me his pores and skin to observe on. As my prospects elevated, I moved to my buddy’s home, and later, to a small salon. Nevertheless, when the salon shut, I opened my very own studio, ‘Satan’z Tattooz’ in 2008 and took aspiring artists underneath my wings,” he recollects.
A pioneering artist
Lokesh is among the few tattoo artists in India who has mastered 3D tattoos, portraits, and mandalas, and his studio gives tattoos on greater than 10 organs of the physique, together with arms, legs, the again, and wrists, amongst others. Nevertheless, his most spectacular companies embody colored realism and soundwave tattoos. Color realism is a difficult however positive artwork model that goals to seize the objects as precisely as doable onto the pores and skin. In the meantime, soundwave (Audible) tattoos are coded messages inked on the physique and upon scanning them, you may hear music/audio in your cellphone.
These revolutionary and detailed-to-perfection artworks have taken Lokesh to a number of international locations, together with america in 2010, and later Europe. Some top-rated studios that he has been invited to incorporate Paul Sales space’s Final Rites Tattoo Gallery in New York; Nikko Hurtado’s Black Anchor Tattoo in Hollywood; Off the Map in Massachusetts; Tommy Lee’s Monsters; Heaven of Colors in Switzerland; Alex de Pase Tattoo in Italy, amongst others. Moreover, he has cemented his place as a sought-after tattoo artist among the many celebrities reminiscent of Swara Bhaskar, Remo D’souza, Tapsee Pannu, Ishan Sharma, Umesh Yadav and so forth.
For each tattoo, Lokesh maintains European hygiene requirements. “I’m very specific about hygiene and find yourself sanitising my palms ten occasions,” he says.
Lokesh rightfully channels his years of expertise and experience by coaching aspiring tattoo artists. He has taught greater than 100 artists, lots of whom work at his studios as we speak. From doing 5 tattoos a month to now making 15-20 every single day, and seeing a footfall of three,000 prospects each month, Lokesh has come a good distance.
When requested if he plans to develop his studios throughout the nation, Lokesh shortly dismisses the thought. “There are tons of of tattoo artists in India as we speak, however solely a handful of them are good. The one motive I by no means intend to make a franchise is that I don’t suppose I’ll ever discover sufficient extremely expert artists. It takes 5-6 years of strenuous work to grasp this craft,” he says.
Edited by Divya Sethu