Lokesh Verma is arguably the most popular Indian tattoo artist. Heck, he is among the top 10 tattoo artists in the world. Yeah, he is that good.
When Lokesh decided that he was going to learn the art of making tattoos by himself, there was no YouTube or Google to fall back on. He had to learn on his own. And you know what comes with learning by yourself? Wisdom.
Fast forward to 2021, Lokesh is known across the globe for his realism tattoos and portraits, and owns three studios. He has travelled to 15 countries for various projects and holds a Guinness world record for tattooing the maximum number (199) of flags on a human body.
Luckily, the team at CareersIndia got a hold of him, and we asked him some questions that aspiring tattoo artists would really like to know about. He was kind enough to provide detailed answers, and explained everything to us in simple terms.
Some of the questions were about the craft of tattoo design, some were about being a creative professional in India, and some of the questions were about his professional ambitions and failures. Here’s how it went:
First of all, do you think any degree/course/diploma should be done by people who aspire to become a tattoo artist? Why/Why not?
There is no specific degree or diploma which just focuses on tattooing, but if someone wants to excel in this art form, then one should know how to draw or sketch.
Knowing some kind of artistic medium is very important because at the end of the day, if you know how to create on paper, you will figure out how to create art on someone’s skin. The only thing that would change is the canvas for your art. So, to answer your question, a person does not necessarily need a degree or diploma for tattoo design. They just need knowledge of art.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what advice would you give him about this career? (Basically the advice that you would like to give to aspiring tattoo artists)
The only thing I would tell my younger self is that you should never succumb to self-doubt. And keep on hustling, because that is the only thing that makes you stand out in the long run. The time you put in things you are passionate about makes you different (and better) than everyone else.
How’s the scope of tattoo design in India? Do you see demand increasing in the coming years?
The scope has definitely increased in India. When I started tattooing 16 years ago, there was hardly any competition in the tattooing trade. Back then, it was considered more of a taboo, and tattoos were considered something that a delinquent would get.
But over the years, society has progressed quite a bit in terms of attitudes towards art. People have now started accepting tattoo design as an art form and have started acknowledging the work and dedication that one needs to become a good tattoo artist.
Walk us through a day in the life of a tattoo artist.
Well, my working days are usually spent doing color portraits on clients, or designing and sketching for a particular tattoo design that I would like to create.
Sometimes clients also submit exact ideas and images, so a lot of work is also done on those. Basically, it’s what you would expect from a fulfilling career – working hard every day on something that you love to do.
What are some resources that you would recommend to beginners in tattoo design?
Tutorials on how to improve their art would be a good first step. Learn drawing and designing on YouTube as soon as you can. Start following Instagram accounts of artists who you aspire to be like, and try to figure out what makes them special, by watching how they do their tattoos, and what is their approach to this art form.
Nowadays, it is very easy because everything is readily available on the internet. An artist does not need to attain fancy degrees to learn how to make art. Just keep on improving your work, and always give your 100%.
Do you think that tattoo design is a profession that pays well? How are things in this field, monetarily speaking?
If someone is good at what they do, people will obviously pay them more. There is freedom to fix an amount for your work, which is a great thing about this profession.
It’s like any other field of work – if you provide your client with the best work, they would definitely not mind paying you a good amount of money.
The money is as good as the work you provide. If you are excellent at what you do, you can expect to earn a good amount of money.
Have you had any big professional failure? What did you learn from it?
Luckily, I never had any huge professional failure. I follow a simple motto, which is to give your 100% at everything you do, and once the work is done, try to figure out how to make it even better.
Take your art to the next level. Keep on increasing the ceiling of standard every time and try to reach it, and once you reach that point, just make your work standards even higher.
What is one common myth or false conception about tattoo artists that you want to debunk?
There is a stigma among the middle class that tattoo artists are all delinquents and that tattooing is not a career path. I have even heard people say things like tattooing is not real work. We work very hard to provide good a good customer experience.
I personally have done tattoo sessions on clients which have lasted for more than 12 hours a day. So I would really appreciate it if people started taking tattoo artists seriously, and gave them the same amount of respect that they would give to any other person in any other field of work.
What is your biggest professional ambition?
My biggest professional ambition would be to put India on the map of providing the best tattoo artwork, and to educate people on the brilliant art form that is tattooing. India has so much untapped market of talented tattoo artists who don’t have exposure. I would really like the rest of the world to know the high standards of work an Indian tattoo artist can provide.
So, these were responses and answers of the top tattoo artist in India. You can follow Lokesh on Instagram – @devilztattoozlokesh and @devilztatooz. Make sure to give him a follow, and if you want to get a tattoo done by him, you can book an appointment on his website.
Did you like the article and found it informative? Then please share it with fellow tattoo designers so that they can make well-informed decisions about their professional life. Subscribe to our newsletter to get a weekly update about the different career options added on the website.