With the increasing demand for tattoos, artistes in India have upped the ante in their quality, giving tough competition to artistes abroad, says Mickey Malani, who co-owns a chain of tattoo studios in India.

Here to attend Heartwork Tattoo Festival 2017 which started on Thursday and ends on Monday, Malani is the co-founder of Bodycanvas Tattoos with Vikas Malani.

Asked where Indian tattoo artistes stand when compared to those abroad, Malani told IANS: “India has grown really fast in the last 3-4 years in the tattooing industry and the quality of work that we have been doing has given some artistes abroad a run for their money.

“I have myself gone abroad and there are other Indian artistes who have gone abroad and worked. Our potential and quality of work is so good that we get booked for months.”

Malani, who has made temporary tattoos for celebrities like Aamir Khan and Anushka Sharma for different films, believes Indian artistes have come “very close to the level of international standards”. However, when it comes to “experimenting with designs”, they are “narrowed down” by a number of factors.

“We are narrowed down with the society, religious or personal beliefs that you can’t get a skull (inked) as it will turn you negative or devious or if you get a naked girl, somebody will look at you and laugh. Or getting something against religion will not be good,” Malani said.

“We do have too many beliefs… so they are not able to do those kind of pieces that will give them more to explore their artwork. Also, big pieces are still not accepted in Indian society ” — when it comes to jobs, for instance. “Big tattoos give the impression that the person would be rebellious or outspoken or into drugs. Our society still needs to grow (up),” he added.

While hailing the quality of work by Indian artistes, Malani, whose first temporary tattoo was for a look-test for Anil Kapoor in “Tashan”, says the level of hygiene is a drawback in India.

“Hygiene is a big concern when it comes to the tattooing world in India. My assumption is that there are about 20-30 percent of the people who go for studios which maintain very high standards (of hygiene). The rest 20-30 percent are medium… However, we still have a large number of small studios; like when you go to Palika Bazaar (in Delhi) and there are other places in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata… places that don’t look into the basics of tattooing.”

Most tattoo parlours abroad have strict guidelines and rules that are adhered to by both the individual getting inked and the one with the needle in the hand. However, in India, it has been noted that rules go out of the window at times.

Malani pointed out that the country still doesn’t have any medical bodies that say need to have a proper licence, or a course in first-aid/hygiene, to make sure that you are looking after everything.

Recounting his experience, Malani said artistes must be careful about other aspects too.

“It’s really disheartening that some artistes are really choosing to do tattoos for people who are under-age. There are people who come drunk to the studio and we have to tell them “no”. Why? Because they might be under the influence of alcohol or any other sort of substance that might influence their decision of getting a tattoo done.

“And in terms of safety… your blood thins after you have alcohol. That could create problems like excess bleeding or delay the healing process afer tattooing. That’s something that we really need to consider,” Malani added.