Today when every single person on this planet is experiencing hardship and facing serious times, we, a group of tattoo artists, is in dilemma whether we will be able to do our work or not. For we come in close contact with a person as we need to work on the skin of a client. And if we talk about social distancing, it is not possible at all.
During the early phase of lockdown, a lot of among our tattoo artists took to social media and started conducting online workshops to teach the art of tattooing. The idea was to turn it into a source of income. Live interviews on Instagram, questions-answers on different social platforms too became a part of this daily regime for some of these artists. But till when? How many people will learn the art of making tattoos? Therefore, we have to go out to earn as we have to take care of our rents, bills, EMIs and a lot of other things. And apart from this art, we do not know what to do. Our dreams have broken. And there are no customers.
With the government opening up the markets and allowing people to work, the scare is even scarier. For us, hygiene has forever been mandatory. We always too care about it but now, it is topmost priority. Earlier, a client was only concerned about hygiene when he entered a studio. Now, he has loads of other concerns — whether the tattoo artist is wearing a mask while tattooing or not, has he covered himself or not, is the studio sanitised or not and people working in the studio healthy or not? Another set of questions remains the same about the needles, inks, grips and more.
A number of outlets have suffered major setbacks due to the lockdown and even shutdown. Only well-established studios perhaps will be survive this period. In fact, some of them, operating in high profile markets, were unable to pay rents in the absence of customers and had to vacate the place. Thus, resulting in job loss for people working there. The same has happened with a large number of artists who made tattoos in New Delhi’s Palika Bazaar and other areas. Today, they are jobless too.
I just hope we all get through this safe and healthy. All in all, it is a grim situation for us in the tattoo industry and no one knows when will it all be what it once used to be.
The writer is a Delhi-based tattoo artist