Tanya Judge is not your typical tattoo girl, going for the flower at the ankle or matching designs with her bestie. She’s way more sophisticated, spiritual and badass, all at the same time, when it comes to tattoos and her choice of the same. Her daughter, Bani J is probably the biggest role model for tattoo enthusiasts in India, but guess who showed Bani the way?

Photo Credit: Tanya Judge

Meet Tanya Judge, a hardcore tattoo collector, has fought cancer twice, and is probably the world’s coolest mom. And, this is her #MyTattooStory.

“My first tattoo was done way back in 1991” says Tanya. Yes, 1991 – when India moved towards globalization, and modern tattooing was yet to find its footing on our shores. “It was done by this famous tattoo artist from Goa; Munna. He was quite popular at that time, but his shop and tattoo standards were a little borderline crazy.”

“He had a shack, not even a studio. A very dimly lit shack, wherein he smoked pot and tattooed at the same time” Tanya laughs as she remembers the old days. She got her first two tattoos from Munna in 1991. A dolphin on one shoulder, and a yin-yang on the other. Both of which have undergone a cover up now.

“I was always fascinated by dolphins because of their emotional nature. They can connect with human beings on a different plane.” But, that was just the start. From thereon, Tanya has went on travel the world, found spirituality in Buddhism, got more and better tattoos, and keeps inspiring many a soul.

Photo Credit: Tanya Judge

But, very few people have actually seen her tattoos. “I keep my tattoos covered. They are not for the world . They are for me.” In fact, she keeps them so much to herself that it took some years for even her parents to figure out she sports a tattoo. “I am a Punjabi, and you know how orthodox we generally are. So after my surgery, when the nurse was changing my robes, that’s when my mother noticed my tattoo. She was in utter shock. But that’s how our culture is.”

As I asked her about the stigma associated with tattoos back then and now in India, she aptly points out that “it has changed a lot… I never really had to answer to many questions because I always kept them hidden from the public eye. But when I took Bani along, to get her first tattoo, people were like, ‘Kya kar rahi? Ab isse shaadi kaun karega?‘ It is hilarious. What sort of an argument is that?”


But the stereotyping of tattooed people in our society never deterred Tanya’s tattoo expeditions. She has her full back done from an artist in Thailand, a travelling Israeli artist has some work on her left shoulder, and to top it all, her left forearm is covered by an amazingly beautiful traditional koi fish sleeve by Max of TattooLabs. Hailing from Russia, Max was one of the better tattoo artists in Goa, before he and his partner, Akula left back for their home country this season.

And she doesn’t intend to stop. Tanya still has two arm sleeves to complete, and we can’t wait to see how they turn out. Keep getting tattooed, lady, and keep inspiring!


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