By Mehjabeen N A
When 21-year-old Rolvin Devassy opened his tattoo parlour, ‘ INKredible Tattoo Studio’, in a modest way in December 2017 in the sleepy town of Chalakudy, Thrissur , many were skeptical about its success. But after five months, many in this small town are sporting tattoos inked by him.
Rolvin says it was his father, Devassykutty who motivated and encouraged him to open a shop. Earlier, he had started off from his home. “My father gave me much needed confidence and of course, the support of my entire family made this possible.”
Though the initial month saw a staggering number of clients, things changed for the better in the next months “I had a 30% increase in clients from the second month, ” he noted.
Rolvin had never thought about being a tattoo artist but it was his friend Prize Dinan and his teachers from college who encouraged him to pursue his artistic talents through tattooing and to make it a career option.
He left for Bangalore to be trained and apprenticed in tattoo studio in the city for 5 months before coming back to Kerala. Recollecting his first client, Antony Davis, Rolwin said “Antony had tattooed a quote about his parents; my cousins and friends were also among my first clients.”
“The first person to approach me with a big work was Ronald Joe” he recalls. Ronald is still a client and he wanted big tattoos on both of his arms. “It’s an ongoing work. I have only done half portion of both of his hands,” he pointed out.
“The job is very hard, but satisfactory” he says though once he had to work for 20 hours at a stretch working on a sleeve tattoo, which he considers as one of his best works.
On an average month, he earns around ₹ 70,000 to 1 lakh rupees. His client list includes people from all walks of life. To my surprise, even mothers comes along with their teenage daughters and sons to get tattooed, even though Chalakkudy is a small town.
He asks people who wants to get tattooed to never compromise quality for lower price.
Though majority of his clients are from this small town, he is also getting clients from other parts of the state as well.
Things are changing for the better but a lot of misconceptions about getting tattoos still exist among the more conservative sections of society, he said.
“My biggest surprise was when a lady doctor who is a cosmetic surgeon called me up for an appointment. A female IT professional who is interested in tattoos will be coming by the end of this month to get training.”
Reminiscing his own experience, Rolwin says, the biggest impediment is that most tattoo artists are not willing to help a newbie or fellow artists. But there are exceptions too like renowned tattoo artist Mahesh Chavan, who is very helpful and encouraging He also said that he is willing totake in aspiring tattoo artists into his shop as trainees.
Speaking about his clients, he said,“when some are not doing enough research and need tattoos just like the ones they might have seen online, there are some who really have a clear picture on what they want.”
Adding that there is a meaning behind every tattoo, most people get it as a trend, without giving much thought that they are most likely to take it to their grave.