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Let’s introspect – Are you tattooed? If yes, what is a tattoo to you? Is it still a form of rebellion for you? Is it an expression of your individual identity? Does it reflect your idea of faith, or any idea at all? Or are your tattoos no different from any other wearable in your wardrobe, for you? Are your tattoos a reflection of who you are, or are they just ‘meaningful’ stickers? Do you think you, as an individual, are unique, or just one of a kind?

Image for representational use
Image for representational use

The purpose of this exercise is not to demean anybody’s tattoo choices, but rather trying to understand why do we get tattooed. Tattoos, to be honest, are no more just for the fringe, but for the fringe tastes of the mainstream. It is so much a part of culture now that we have definitely gone past the stage where tattooed people were considered ‘different’ from the rest. But, at the very core of it, tattoos are a mark of our individuality. We can share a thousand interests with a million others, have similar tastes like our friends, but to everything we do, have, want, love, believe or desire, we have our individual, unique perspective and approach.

Unique Om tattoo by Pramod Deshmukh
Unique Om tattoo by Pramod Deshmukh

My idea of love, and your idea of love can never be absolutely same. My idea of faith, and your idea of faith will have different roots, and thus unique perspectives, right? Then, WHY THE FUCK do we get tattoos that are rip offs, and copies of one another?

Tattoo by Zaheer Chhatriwala
Tattoo by Zaheer Chhatriwala

Why copy someone else’s tattoo? Why try to fit into someone else’s idea?

A tattoo is a decision we make for the rest of our lives. It stays with us, inside our skin, matures with us over time, and is only ours. So, let’s not settle for anything that already exists on someone else’s body, because that is their individual idea and concept. But how?

1. Stop searching for existing tattoos on the internet for your next one

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Every tattoo is a collaboration between two people – you and your tattoo artist. It is a process of your ideas brought to life by the artistry and visual imagination of your tattoo artist. If you go to a tattoo artist with an existing tattoo, and asking for the same shit on your skin, you are not only disrespecting the capabilities of the artist, but also demeaning your own identity.

2. Fix on an idea, and share that with your artist

Image Courtesy: Fabrice Koch
Image Courtesy: Fabrice Koch

Tattoos are never a trend, only the media makes it look so. When you get a tattoo, you never go for it thinking of a future where you undo it. Your tattoos stem from your ideas, so carry just that to your tattoo artist. Sit with him/her over a consultation session, discuss your idea, and let them draw out your personal tattoo design for you.

3. But, what if the artists themselves tell you to get an existing tattoo?

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Get out of that studio at that very instant. Say, you are looking for a Shiva tattoo, and the artist you go to shows you an existing tattoo design, never say yes. It is a different thing to take multiple references, but the end design has to be unique for you. That is why tattoos are an expensive affair, because it is purely an art form at the end of the day.

4. Instead of searching for designs, search for the right artist

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Just how our tastes and idea of aesthetics vary from person to person, similarly tattoo artists have their own set of specialties. If you are sure of the idea for your next tattoo, then all you should do is search for an artist whose style of work you like and resonate with. Click here, and go through the portfolios of the artists, and then choose one based on the work they have done.

5. Ask the artist to compose your tattoo

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You can choose to small, big, minimal or large scale, but a good tattoo will always be a good composition. Composition isn’t always juxtaposing multiple design elements, but a mix of how all the elements in the design flow with your body, and how they are placed. Sometimes when we are skeptical of a design, we prefer to go minimal. But trust the artist on that, and let them suggest you the ideal size for your tattoo. For a commitment as big as a tattoo, you don’t want to have any regrets in future; you don’t want a smudged blot on your skin five years down the line.

6. Copying someone else’s tattoo is outright plagiarism

If you or your tattooer copies an existing tattoo, you are plagiarising someone’s unique idea, and an artist’s priceless effort. Every artist spends years on the drawing board to master their skills, and produce original custom tattoos. By simply copying it, you are not only settling for a mediocre choice, but also infringing the very basic right of an artist.

7. Never settle for a remake, ’cause you aren’t

Image Courtesy: Binay Gurung
Image Courtesy: Binay Gurung

The ultimate joy of tattooing is in the bond that is created between you and your artist over a tattoo. If you are tattooed, you will know what I mean when I say that there are some things about us that only our tattoo artists know, beside us. That connect is formed when the two of you bring an idea to life, not just copy-paste an existing piece of art.

If you are looking for an artist who can understand your concepts, and produce something unique for you, this is where you should be spending internet data right now!

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