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Making a name in the ink world

Wednesday, May 09, 2018
By Parth Khatau

Afternoon D&C features writer Parth Khatau speaks to tattoo artist Sunny Bhanushali about how he went from doing odd jobs to saving up to open his first studio and how he is helping more aspiring artists to enter the ink world, which he feels is an expanding community

As I entered Aliens tattoo studio in Malad West, I was surprised by the number of youngsters peering over each other's heads to get a glimpse of someone getting inked. "That's Sunny working on a client and his students are always around to watch and learn," said his assistant. The swanky interiors of his studio was bustling with activity with some of his students observing him and some busy on their computer screens, working on designs.

"Today is a busy day," said Sunny, finally finding time to speak to us.

So where did the love for tattoing stem from? "I have always been a creative person and drawing was my first love," said Sunny. "I come from not the most well off family backgrounds and have seen a lot of struggle in life. I initally worked at a Mcdonald's and a BPO and it was while working at the latter that I finally was able to get a grip and save up money to showcase my drawings," he said. Sunny's first taste of watching someone getting inked was when he accompanied a friend to watch him get a tattoo. "When I saw the entire process I was instantly fascinated by it and asked the tattoo artist to teach me as I felt I could do it," said Sunny.
"However, he was very rude and did not even agree to sell me some equipment for me to learn on my own. Over a span of few months, I was able to save up some money to buy myself some equipment and I did my first ever tattoo on myself, one on my ankle," he added.

Sunny, then took baby steps toward mastering his trade and began obliging friends and office colleagues at the BPO by getting them inked. "I reached a point after that where I felt I had enough ammunition to quit my job and do tattooing full time," he said.

Sunny started working from his residence in Borivali and did so for around eight months before saving up enough money to make the next leap, i.e. to open his own studio in Oshiwara.

"Any form of art, for me, is the ability to express one's self," said Sunny. "Via tattoos I am able to help people do just that," Sunny smiled. Taking me to see the tattoo he was working on, Sunny pointed out, "My client wants a tattoo of his mother's face on his arm and it is quite a challenge as you do not want to get such detailed art wrong," he added.  

Continuing to talk about his journey, Sunny spoke about how he went from strength to strength, opening up two top of the art studios in Malad and Bandra, establishing Aliens Studios as one of the best names in the business.

"The tattooing community is still growing and more and more people are jumping onto the bandwagon," said Sunny. "I wanted more people to be part of this community and hence I started teaching," he added. Sunny reccomends aspiring tattoo artists to do a 3 to 4 months course which is rigorous. "Students are of all age groups right from 16 to around 34, 35," said Sunny. When asked if they receive a certificate Sunny quipped, "Yes, they do receive a certificate but the main thing is that they learn their work well. There is no recognized programme for tattoo artists in this country as it is not yet recognized as a profession by the government."

How much money do tattoo artists make? "Well, that depends on how well you are doing!" said Sunny. "I can assure you that some of my past students are earning as much as doctors and engineers if not more," he smiled. Students spend around 6 to 7 hours at the studio six days a week.

Lastly, Sunny was quick to point out how important hygiene is in a profession like this. "Proper hygeine is a habit we inculcate into our students which they will take with them wherever they go in their respective tattoo careers," said Sunny. And the key to being successful in tattoing? "Love what you do and take your time on each piece of art you create. Your client should leave the studio with a smile on his/her face," he beamed.

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