His tryst with that .2mm sharp needle point machine that spurts ink into the dermis started even before he could complete his teens. Having left home to explore the nomadic culture of colourful Rajasthan, Vikas Malani, the celebrity Tattoo Artist of India, in his teens was living in the streets of Pushkar, away from the comforts of his posh home in Mumbai, to absorb, understand and explore the hippie side of life!
At 35, Vikas Malani is the most sought after Tattoo artist of India, with an experience of more than two decades of learning and experimenting with the ink. He is the third generation of Malanis in Mumbai. Having his roots in Jaipur and Gwalior, the two most enticing and artistic lands of the nation, he feels that vacations during growing up years in these two native cities, play a major role in influencing the early days of his life.
Vikas says, as long as he recalls, he was always enticed by the world of colours, architecture and historical buildings, “History has always made me feel inquisitive about what’s next. For me those days were ‘Vikas in Wonderland.’ I would imagine how I would be as a warrior or a king or may be a famous artist! I collected that era in me and that’s what makes me an artist today.”
School life went away doodling art like filigree on the books and notebooks and the first year of college was spent in sketching and wall art around the college campus. Before the test results came, he was already popular as Mr. Magic Fingers, but then he flunked.
Thanks to which came his escapade from the mundane life of graduation studies at Mumbai’s Ritambara College and a serious argument with his father about career choices in life, only acted as a catalyst to his fleeing away to Rajasthan. Today, his father is thankful they argued.
It wasn’t that he was whiling away his time in Pushkar but destiny had its own plans. He met Lydia by chance, who was from Barcelona and that changed the course of life for Vikas.
He spent another couple of months learning to tattoo and it came rather naturally to him, which surprised Lydia the most. She parted with promising words for Vikas and asked him to walk the road without taking any turns. He did and the rest, as they say, is history.
“My family never accepted me initially, when I started tattooing, for them it wasn’t a career choice at all. Ironically, people around also agreed with him not realising that tattoo is the oldest art form of any culture known to human races.”
What started as a hobby soon became a passion and ended up as an addiction. To him, there’s nothing more tempting than clean white skin, where he sees a new canvas, to tattoo sketch his art! “My life was never black n white! Coming from Rajasthan, my love for colours is only natural.”
“The first hiccups were finding a tattoo machine for a left hand tattoo artist, which were not available in the market. Then I found Shantaram, in Mumbai, who made it for me. Back then, he used to make tattoos for people on the docks. I owe the start of my journey to him. Also, Dr. Kohiyar, the first tattoo artist of Mumbai, plays a major influence in my life. He has been instrumental in channelizing my life hugely. It is not just about the art of inking but my road to spiritualism started with him. He was a psychologist before he started practicing tattoo art and his depth of understanding things and perspectives are phenomenal. I consider him as my guru.”
“Professionally, I started making tattoos at my friend Farid’s’s studio, called JunkFunk, where I and my brother, Mickey, took turns going for the appointments, and by the time it was 2003, we seemed pretty much ready to launch our own.” The first Body Canvas outlet was set-up in 2003 and along with it he was also working in the corporate sector. For more than a decade, Vikas worked for 18 hours a day in a back to back shift, shuttling between his job and Body Canvas studio, before leaving as the Sales Head, in 2013 and joining his love of life, full time. Now he works 24 hours.
Vikas loves to meditate and is a great believer in the energies of Universe. There have been instances where he has point blank refused to tattoo someone with whom he felt unconnected. A wanderer at heart, Vikas Malani, loves to travel. For him, the world is one big nation.
“The journey till this point of time has been very exciting and I am thankful to the universe for giving this path less travelled. It just amplifies the happiness quotient, altogether,” sums up, Vikas Malani.
Today, Body Canvas has studios in Malad & Bandra in Mumbai, Hauz Khas Village in Delhi and Greenwich in London. Vikas’ clientele includes people from Bollywood and fashion industry in India and a huge list of patrons in London, parts of Europe and America.
Reach out to Vikas at email@example.com