How does it feel to be amongst the most popular tattoo artists in India?
My journey began from Surendra Nagar to Khamla, right from 2003, when I kept changing cities for work. In 2007, I planned my biggest outlet in Ajni. From then, I began receiving frequent inquiry calls from cities like Vishakhapatnam, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, etc. In the beginning I commenced charging one thousand rupees per tattoo. Having worked as a teacher in Mumbai, I have taught many artists.
My friend from Australia, Janak Patel, plays an important role in my success. He was the man behind the temporary tattoo I got when I was in Australia. After returning to India, I noticed people staring at my tattoo as if it were something extraordinarily exceptional. Because of that temporary tattoo, I gained fame in no time and I was all they talked about in colleges, tuitions, various institutions, outlets, as well as in and around where I stayed; and that motivated me to start a business. My journey of a tattoo artist began and I made my first tattoo on my friend Ronnie. Out of my first 10 customers, 4 were doctors. I received a lot of support from Dr. Sanjay Jaiswal and Dr. Murli.
Being amongst the most popular tattoo artist in India, it feels like my responsibility to serve, to maintain my quality of work and a post given by people – which I will always respect.
What is the best part of being a tattoo artist?
Earlier in those days, having a tattoo used to be a taboo in India. The Miami Ink Programme played an important role in influencing the art of tattoos in Bollywood. It was a privilege for me to do something out of the box and get such a great response. The recognition for tattoos increased everywhere in India by 2007-08. Until 2010, I worked in cities like Raipur, Chandrapur, Akola, Bhopal, Aurangabad, and Nanded. 25% of my customers were from other cities. Receiving appreciation and response from around the country was overwhelming as well as was a blessing.
Once, when I was at a medical store to buy gloves, there was a man standing beside who asked me what I would do with those gloves. I told him that I was a tattoo artist and I would make tattoos wearing those gloves. Surprisingly, he asked me if I was Jitendra, the tattoo artist, and that amazed me. Being recognized by a stranger was an astonishing as well as a proud feeling.
What were the moments did you realize you were going to make it big?
When I started making tattoos, it caught great attention from media and people. I had the first ever tattoo business website in India. Through my website, I used to receive many inquiries from those who wanted to get tattooed. Once I received an inquiry from a foreigner, Stewart Taran, who mailed me about the tattoos he wanted to get inked after he visited India. I ignored that mail because I was scared to get the job done. Later, a gentleman from a software company in the U.S. was visiting Pune and he contacted me, asking me to make him a tattoo. I accepted and went to Pune gathering all the courage I had in me. When I arrived, I received a warm welcome from him and within no time he asked me to start making the tattoo. I started making the tattoo at 1 P.M. and completed it by 11 P.M. His confidence and trust on me gave me enough courage to make it happen and later I was paid twenty-six thousand for that tattoo. When I visited Vishakhapatnam, I earned eighty thousand within a week just by making tattoos. I worked mostly in Hyderabad. I travelled a lot for my job and because I love travelling, it was a fun job for me. After receiving the amount of response that I did, somewhere inside I knew I was going to take this to the next level.
What keeps you accelerated in this business?
I was not an artist, I just did what I love and people explored it. I just wanted to work and my enthusiasm towards making tattoos was great. I used to travel and meet new people, make new friends, experience different things, and I loved it. Technology and Social Media made it easier for me to get new customers, for customers to get in touch with me and for them to get to know more about what I did. There were a lot of people from outside India who contacted me through my website and requested their tattoos to be done only by me.
People always give me positive vibes and my customer’s smile is what gives me the strength I need.
I also teach, and when you teach someone an art, you reach a notch higher. The best part is when people come to me and show me the tattoos that I made, and ask if I can make those for them too.
What will be your word of wisdom for the upcoming talents in the tattoo industry?
The art of making tattoos, just like every other art, is unique in itself. I’m a learner and I keep learning every day and I urge the upcoming talents to do the same. Every knowledge I have is practical. Knowledge is of no use if you don’t know how to execute it. Money is not as important as work. There are platforms that feature and promote art just like Thinkin’ Nagpur and artists must approach them and showcase their talents.
If your work is fun for you, it will automatically pave way for your success. I wish luck to all the upcoming tattoo artists and I hope they get all that they deserve.