Portraits in vogue among Indian tattoo lovers

June 22nd, 2009 - 10:07 am ICT by IANS  

Sanjay Dutt By Robin Bansal & Shilpa Raina
New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Bollywood star and politician Sanjay Dutt has just got his parents’ names inked on his body. But going by the trend, he may need to catch up. Many Indians are getting portraits of loved ones - instead of just names - inked on their body.

“Portraits of your loved ones or gods are very much in this season. This is their way of showing how much they care for them,” tattoo artists Lokesh Verma from Devil’z Tattoz told IANS.

“People prefer portraits of their spouses, girlfriends and kids. In fact, I recently did a portrait of a guy’s girlfriend on his arm. One of my other famous portraits have been Heath Ledger’s character - The Joker - from ‘The Dark Knight’. People also like to have gods like Shiva, Rama, Krishna and Sai Baba,” said Verma.

But portrait tattoos are the hardest to get right and very few can do them properly.

“It takes close to six hours for a portrait to be done. Portraits are mostly done on a small-size varying from 5X5 to 5X6 inches because a lot of detailing goes into it like hair colour, eyes, lips, etc.,” Varma said.

Ajit Singh, director of Cheenos tattoo parlour, feels the same.

“There’s a particular thing involved in tattoos and it is called shading which is done with the grey wash ink - a mixutre of black ink and distilled water. Portraits are the most time-consuming and the hardest because there are wrinkles on the skin and not a single wrinkle can be missed from shading.

“Images have a lot of intricacies and they have to be of a favourable size - a minimum of about five inches. You can’t have very small portraits or the image will lose its intricacy,” Singh told IANS over phone from Meghalaya.

Apart from grey, golden and blue colours are also used in portraits.

“Basically portraits are done in black and white, but if there is a particular requirement of colours like yellow in Krishna’s jewellery or blue for Shiva, we do it,” said Verma.

Singh says initially tattoos were just a fad, but now it has emotional connotation.

“Portraits are done by people who very strongly relate to something like parents and even a dog. Recently a 32-year-old woman had her dog inked on her arm. There is no specific age group that follows the trend though,” said Singh.

Shane Dawson of Cheenos said: “Today, it’s more about emotional attachment. Normally when people go for their second tattoo, they want something that will relate to their first tattoo. People also come up with various ideas as things have changed a lot and it’s no more than a fashion statement.”

Media professional Shravan Gupta, 21, has got the portrait of Leprechaun, a male fairy from Irish folklore, as he believed it was his lucky mascot.

“Ever since I was a child, I found that he was very lucky for me and hence when I decided to get a tattoo, I knew what I wanted,” said Gupta.

Singh says the trend of portrait tattoos started a decade ago abroad. But in India, the trend caught up just a year and a half ago.

The minimum price for these ranges from Rs.12,000 to 18,000.

“Our rates are fixed irrespective of the image and size of a portrait - it’s specific Rs.1,500 initial square inch followed by Rs.500 for every proceeding square inch,” said Singh.

The best known portrait artist in the world is 27-year-old Los Angeles-based Kat Von D, who also runs a show called “LA Ink”.

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