What does it mean to be inked?
We all have our reasons for wanting – or not wanting! – a tattoo. For most of us, self-expression is a very important part of living. And for many of us, tattoos are one way to give our thoughts and ideas a ‘voice’, so to speak!
But what, exactly, are we trying to say?
To answer this question is to take a walk down a long and winding road with someone, bearing witness to their epic journey.
For Rajesh, much like with many other tattoo enthusiasts, this journey starts with a childhood dream.
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“I’ve been fond of tattoos since my childhood. It was always on my mind to get one done.”
Rajesh’s tattoo story begins about 12 years ago. “My first tattoo was a dragon, and I got it done from Brahma Studio with great difficulty because I didn’t have the money to pay for it. I couldn’t ask my father for the money either, so I saved a bit here and there and got it done.”
“I got a dragon just because I wanted a tattoo. I had it in my head and wanted to get it, but I didn’t know enough about it. And 12 years ago, it cost me 4000 rupees, which at that time was too expensive for me.”
The Long and Winding Road
“When people see tattoos like mine, they get curious. They’ll come up to you and ask about them, especially how you handled the pain. But honestly, I don’t feel the pain. I actually like it.
A lot of people also get inspired to get full body tattoos when they see mine. I feel very proud that I can inspire them. But getting tattoos like mine is not easy.”
“My journey from my first tattoo to getting a full bodysuit began in November, 2017. I initially had no idea how to get it done. I thought I could finish it in a month! The studio I went to before Trippink explained it to me in that way too, saying they’ll finish it in 10 sessions.
When I went to Trippink, I was determined to finish it within 2 months, over 10 days. My tattoo artist Ritopriyo advised me to do 2 days and then decide.”
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“When I finally started with Rito and the needle hit my body, I knew this wouldn’t be easy. In a single session, it went up to 26 needles. It was painful. But somehow, I couldn’t stop smiling – it’s actually kind of ticklish!”
“The healing time between sessions made it difficult to finish it as quickly as I wanted. Smaller tattoos can heal within a few days, but mine would take at least 10-15 days for the initial healing. Sometimes I would stretch so Rito could ink properly and fall asleep in an odd position. After waking up, I’d need a painkiller to deal with the pain from trying not to move and ruin my healing tattoo!
In addition to that, we are both running businesses, and finding a time when we both would be available was very difficult. Even in an ideal scenario and counting just working days, it would still have taken a minimum of 6 months.”
On Artistry and Forming Bonds
“My first preference for this bodysuit was Brahma because that was where I got my first tattoo, but it didn’t work out. We’re in different places now, our styles and preferences don’t match anymore. So I looked elsewhere, and I found Rito. He’s not just about tattooing, look at this art all around us!
The vibe of Trippink is something else. Sure they’re a business too, but you don’t feel like they’re doing this for money. They love things that are new and interesting, and my tattoo was just that.”
“When we first met at InkSoul, we connected right away. Our principles are the same. We believe strongly in forming bonds, and the one we share will go on for life. We both do what we do for our clients, to make them happy. When you do things that way, you build connections that last a lifetime. That trust, that relationship – it’s so important. They will always choose you and come back to you simply because they have the confidence that you will put their needs first.
Where I stand today is because of these bonds that I have formed throughout my life, and it’s no different with Rito.”
“I was moved by his talent and work ethic, and Rito knew immediately that he’d found a once in a lifetime opportunity. Finding someone to ink a whole bodysuit on is nearly impossible, especially in Bangalore. For Rito, this was an artist’s dream and he was not about to let that go. We discussed price and budget, he told me his minimum – and we just decided to start it.”
Visit Trippink to book an appointment with Ritopriyo or Sachin today!
How to Get a Tattoo
“There is a proper way to get a tattoo. Not in the heat of the moment without thought.”
“I always knew what I wanted and got exactly that. Rito says it’s as if it came to me in a dream, some kind of divine inspiration. Maybe that’s why it sits so perfectly on my body. I know I will never regret them.
Trippink’s philosophy is just that – they never rush you. They tell you to take your time, think about your design, let it sink in. Let the inspiration find you. If you rush it, you will regret it, so you have to open yourself to being inspired. You have to let it happen.”
“For me, I have been studying Hindu mythology and spirituality my whole life, and these are the virtues and characteristics I relate to. The inspiration was always within me, and with the right outlet – tattoos – it has manifested outwards. People often get scared about how tattoos will affect their health or skin – but look at me. My tattoos are what make my skin glow!”
“By the time I met Rito, I already had designs in mind. I even knew what style I wanted – traditional. I had my mind made up, I was focused on my goal, and honestly, anything I wasn’t sure about did not end up on my body. Somehow or the other it just wouldn’t work out. It was like destiny – what was meant to sit on that spot of my body is what found its way there!”
“We started with Kali. I was originally inspired by Stephen James, the footballer. I saw his tattoo and I knew I wanted it. Nothing else. I was ready to pay for it, I wanted it, I had a solid, straight intention and no second-thoughts.
Rito was excellent. Lots of people do Kali tattoos, but workmanship makes a huge difference. Rito drew everything by hand. Kali represents destruction to most people, but in Hindu mythology, she is actually described as being very compassionate. Kali tattoos always depict her as angry, but in mine – she is smiling. It’s still Kali, but different. Rito gave my tattoo something unique.”
“Once I saw the work Rito put in and the result, I knew I was in the right hands. I could confidently go to Rito and know I would get something amazing.”
“After Kali, we did a Shiva tattoo on my arm. Again, I knew I wanted it. I love absolutely everything about Shiva. From destruction to creation, every single thing.”
“From there, we went on to Saraswati. For this one, I wasn’t really prepared, I knew I wanted something a little different, a little less traditional, but with detailing. I saw some Thai art, especially the way they draw lion and tiger faces. It was something different to me and from that I got my Saraswati design. Plus, I didn’t have Ganpati on my body, so I decided to get that incorporated as well. I knew I didn’t want colours though – black and white will always look good to you, but colours might not, so I chose not to get my tattoo with colour.”
“Somewhere in between these ideas, Kundalini cropped up. Kundalini is also connected to Shiva, and everything to do with Shiva I want. In Hindu mythology, a Kundalini is a serpent that, in a spiral, forms a pathway that connects the energy centers or ‘chakras’. If you are able to connect these chakras through this pathway, then you manifest such an immense amount of energy – it becomes like a superpower. Whether you use yoga or some other method, activating this pathway allows you to manifest the life you want. There is such power in the Kundalini, nothing can compete.
But unlike the usual Kundalini tattoos, mine has a rose that the serpent emerges from and reaches the top. Just like with my Kali tattoo, Trippink gave me something totally unique.”
“In between all that, the neck tattoo happened as well. Sachin started it and Rito finished it. He did it extremely quickly, finished it in one go – that too on such a sensitive spot! He did everything including the filling and detailing in one session – 8 hours in one day. But look at it clearly – it is perfectly done. Not one defect.”
“From 2017 to now, it’s almost 2 years. Most of my suit was completed within 2018, but the details are still being worked on. I could have completed a whole body tattoo by now, but lots of things got in my way, and once that happens it gets harder and harder to reach the finish line.”
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On Community and Empowerment
“To make people who don’t get tattooing understand what it means is very difficult.
“I’m from a Jain family where things like tattoos are not the norm. I don’t attend certain family functions because of that. When I’m with my family they see me in a different way.
There are lots of negatives. Every person has different questions, giving each of them an answer is hard.”
“My daughter once asked me “who gave you this terrible idea?” Explaining to her that this was a childhood dream was difficult. I finally have the money and the power to make this dream come true, but my family didn’t want me to get this bodysuit done and would often try to stop me from going.
But being at InkSoul is where it all changed for me. Until then, all these questions would make me doubt myself. Was I doing the right thing?
But I walked into InkSoul and suddenly I was among people who were in my zone. It was such an empowering experience. I felt like a celebrity taking selfies with everyone! People wanted to know more, they told me about how my tattoos were inspiring them to get some too, and how their fears around tattooing were disappearing one by one. For the first time, I felt pride in my ink.”
The Philosophy Behind Tattooing
“My body is my investment. While I have a body, I have everything, and without it, there is nothing. You can have crores of rupees and it means nothing once you’re gone. You have to use your money for yourself while you’re alive. If you simply put it away you’ll never get to use it.”
“I believe everyone should get a tattoo. In my experience, tattoos can change your whole life. It wasn’t an easy decision to start with, but as my tattoos grew I got happier. Just like my tattoos, I live my life going forward. Don’t look back. There are a lot of positives in life, so keep moving and looking ahead.”
“I can’t really say if this is because of my tattoos, god, or my family, but my life has changed drastically since I started getting my tattoos – I bought my own house! After coming from a poor family, and working for 7 years learning about the jewelry business without getting paid, a love marriage, and two children – this is the next biggest achievement for me.”
“Now with all these tattoos on me, I have nothing more to worry about. When god is with me, what have I to fear?“
The Culmination of a Dream
“Everything has a meaning, but for me all of it somehow connects to Mahadev.
Right now I have Mahadev tattooed, but this is just one part. I wasn’t sure what to fill that area with initially but while searching, I found an image of ‘Ardhanarishvara’, which is where part of Shiva is a man, and the other part is a woman. I considered getting other designs, like clouds, but I have since moved on to this. The problem with designs is if you don’t find the right one or are not sure, you’ll find yourself running around trying to get it fixed once it is done.”
“This area still feels empty since only half the Shiva tattoo is done. But after this area gets filled with Shiva ‘Ardhanarishvara’ tattoo, I will feel complete. Before this, I actually tried a different tattoo, and by god’s grace it didn’t sit on my hand! So now I have another chance.”
“I want this to be a whole sleeve. The Saraswati tattoo is done, but I’ll extend that also to match the Shiva tattoo after it is completed.”
“I haven’t been to the studio for 6-7 months and everyone is wondering why is he so silent.
I’m definitely not done yet. I have plans to continue. I want to cover my hands and legs, the side of my stomach – I want to eventually get my whole body tattooed.
Right now it is still unfinished, there’s a long way to go. It’s not easy. There’s a lot of work left to be done!
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We would like to thank Rajesh, Trippink, and Ritopriyo for sharing this amazing journey with us. We’re so excited to see where it goes from here!
Have your own stories to tell? Head on over to jhaiho.com to book your tattoo appointment and get inked today!
After reading about Rajesh’s journey, check out how Swetha uses ink to tell her story. After that, see how grief and loss inspired Anya’s tattoo, and how her tattoo helped her heal from her pain.
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