Practising on onions makes tattoo art perfect
New Delhi: Before the advent of artificial skin pads, tattoo artists had to rely on white onions, volunteers and their own skin to hone their skill - an art that can only be perfected with practice.
Practising how to make a tattoo is very important because it gives an idea of the depth of the needle - how much it should penetrate the skin - for comfortable hand movement and to cause the least pain to the client.
Mumbai-based tattoo artist Vishwas Dorwekar, who has been in the business for 30 years, told reporters that he used to practise on white onion to get his hand movement right.
"We are traditional tattoo artists and my father taught me this art on white onions. I practised a lot on them because the layering is just like skin. So working on them helps achieve the correct hand balance," Dorwekar said.
"The best way to judge yourself on a white onion is to see imprints of work on its layers. How deep did u touch it? Initially it is 6-7 layer deep, but the day you master the art, the imprint will come down to 1-2 layers," he added.
Delhi-based tattoo artist Mike Cowasji, who has been tattooing since 1995, said he was fortunate enough to have volunteers to practise.
"At that time, tattooing just started in India and a lot of people wanted to get one. So, I used to get a lot volunteers who wanted a tattoo done. That is how I mastered the art," Cowasji explained.
"But at the same time, working directly on someone`s body added huge responsibilities. I had to be perfect. I had to make sure that the design comes out the way the volunteer wanted. After all, they are doing something that will stick with them for ever," he added.
One artist said he even practised on his own skin to get it right.
"Today you get artificial rubber skin, but those hit the market just two to three years back. They were popular in the West and available there. One could have got it from there, but it was expensive," said Lokesh Verma of Devilz tattoo parlour in Vasant Kunj, who has been in the business for six years.
"So I started practising on my own skin. That is how I learnt," he added.
Artificial skin pads are available in the Indian market starting at Rs.2,000. Cowasji, who runs a school for teaching the art of tattooing in C.R. Park, explained how rubber skin works.
"I have mannequins in my school. We use the rubber skin pads and strap them to any body part. The point is to get used to the feel of drawing around the natural curves of the human body," he said.
Verma suggests one should never practise on a flat surface to make sure that the process is realistic to get the maximum benefit.
Dorwekar summed up, saying: "Tattoo-making is an endless process. The more one practises, the better one gets."
"Tattoo-making is a combination of art and science, practising which will give you knowledge," he said.