A Conversation with Vikas Malani
Mumbai-born Vikas Malani is an accomplished celebrity tattoo artist. The creator of BodyCanvas whose inspiration stems from his artistic mother. Vikas and his brother Mickey Malani founded the Mumbai-based tattoo studio Bandcanvas in 1998. Vikas' love of painting inspired him to begin sketching at a very young age, despite his lack of professional instruction in fine art. There were numerous abstract and landscape-inspired patterns and designs in his artwork.
In 1998, he advanced to body painting and temporary tattoos. After receiving instruction from Spanish tattoo artist Lydia, he began doing commercial tattoos in 2001 with help from Mr. Shantaram and Dr. Kohiyar. His name was recently featured in Shahrukh Khan starrer Pathan, where he worked as a tattoo artist on John Abraham. Vikas has experience with both traditional and contemporary tattoo styles. His personal favorites are tattoos with geometric shapes, watercolors, linework, dotwork, freestyle, and traditional designs.
Apart from just traditional tattooing he has connected himself with actions that have a positive social impact like doing tattoos for girls surviving acid attacks. Here's what we talked about in the exclusive interview with Vikas Malani.
What changes have you seen in the body art industry since you first started, and what trends do you foresee in the future?
In the last two decades, tattoos and piercings have undergone significant changes. Traditional styles have evolved, giving rise to new trends such as minimalism and watercolor designs. Technology has become an integral part of tattoos, with the emergence of interactive or augmented reality designs. There is now wider societal acceptance of tattoos.
Looking ahead, one can expect the continued growth in the popularity of eco-friendly practices, technological integration, and personalized designs in the body art industry.
In addition to tattooing, you also perform body modifications and piercings. Could you describe the variations between these practices and the significance of safety?
Tattooing involves creating permanent designs on the skin, while piercing involves inserting jewelry into holes. Safety measures are crucial in both practices to prevent infections. Using clean equipment, and new needles, and adhering to hygiene protocols are essential for ensuring people's safety. Proper training enables practitioners to perform these procedures safely for their clients.
When designing bespoke tattoos for your clients, how do you go about the process to make sure the outcome is what they had in mind?
To create the perfect custom tattoo-
Talk with the Client: Discuss their ideas and preferences.
See Examples: Look at pictures or sketches they like.
Get Feedback: Show initial designs and adjust based on what they want.
Keep Talking: Stay in touch to address any concerns or changes.
Work Together: Combine their ideas with your artistic input.
Final Approval: Show the last design for their approval before starting the tattoo.
This way, the tattoo reflects their vision.
What interests and pastimes do you have outside of your professional work?
Apart from professional work, my interests include painting, adventure traveling, trekking & reading.
Which body art pieces or tattoos do you personally love the most, and what do they represent to you?
I have a passion for creating colorful tattoos inspired by nature and animals. This artistic expression is not just a craft for me; it's a deeply motivating and meaningful journey. Each piece tells a unique story, blending vibrant hues with the beauty of the natural world.
Body art has become more widely accepted in society in recent years. What factors, in your opinion, have led to this development, and what suggestions would you give someone thinking about their first tattoo or piercing?
More people accept body art now because attitudes are changing, and it's seen more in the media.
If you're thinking of your first tattoo or piercing:-
Choose Meaningfully: Pick something important to you.
Research Well: Find a good artist or studio.
Start Small: Begin with a small design or subtle piercing.
Think About Placement: Consider where it will be on your body.
Talk to the Artist: Have a good chat to make sure you're on the same page.
This way, your body art can be meaningful and enjoyable.
Could you give an example of a defining experience or a turning point in your career?
Embracing a "learn while doing" approach has been instrumental in my daily growth. A significant turning point in my career was establishing the Bodycanvas studio in central London. This venture signifies a pivotal moment of accomplishment and opportunity for further advancement.
What are some of the emerging male piercing trends that the industry is most likely to witness in the near future?
For guys, upcoming piercing trends include:
Helix Piercings: On the outer ear
Flat Piercings: On the upper ear's flat part.
Daith Piercings: In the inner ear cartilage.
Rook Piercings: In the antihelix.
Septum Piercings: In the nose.
Nipple Piercings: Getting more popular.
Surface Piercings: On the skin's surface.
Always choose a good piercer and take care of it properly!
What guidance would you offer to professionals and aspiring tattoo artists who want to establish a reputation for themselves in the field?
For tattoo artists aiming to build a reputation-
Skills Matter: Keep improving your craft.
Showcase Variety: Have diverse styles in your portfolio.
Network: Connect with other artists and be part of the community.
Social Media Presence: Share your work online.
Consistency is Key: Deliver high-quality work consistently.
Client Focus: Understand and communicate well with clients.
Stay Professional: Maintain hygiene, follow ethics, and prioritize safety.
What is the most peculiar request you have ever fulfilled for a piercing or tattoo, and how did you respond to it?
One of the most unique requests I've fulfilled in the piercing realm involved creating a stunning line of 15 dermal piercings, extending gracefully from the nape to the tailbone for a client.
Which tattoo designs or body piercing placements do you think will be popular in the upcoming times?
In the future, people might like- Nature Tattoos: Designs with plants and animals, Simple Tattoos: Clean and straightforward styles, Geometric Designs with unique shapes and patterns, Inner Ear Piercings: Delicate piercings inside the ears, Hand and Finger Tattoos with small, detailed designs on hands. But it's important to pick what you personally love!
Who has been your favorite celebrity to work with?
It’s a long list of good celebrity vibes:
John Abraham, Aamir Khan, Aditi Rao Hydari, Shweta Tripathi Sharma, Shibani Dandekar, Devoleena Bhattacharjee (Gopi Bahu), Rhea Chakraborty, Michael Clarke, Michael Slater, Raghu & Rajiv, Prince Narula, and many more.
Are there any environmentally friendly techniques or materials that you believe will influence the future of body art, given the growing importance of sustainability?
In the future, body art might become more eco-friendly with things like:
Eco Inks: Inks made from environmentally friendly stuff.
Less Packaging: Using less and recyclable packaging.
Reusable Tools: Tools that can be cleaned and used again.
Ethical Materials: Using responsibly sourced materials for jewelry.
Water-Based Tattoos: Environmentally-friendly options for temporary tattoos. It's a way of making body art more planet-friendly.
In this stereotyped world, this man has created his own niche in it. Tattoo and body art was once a highly tabooed art in India and it still is not accepted in lots of parts of it. But if we look into the history of different indigenous people like different tribes and religions tattoos are deeply rooted. Vikas Malani is able to connect with the Indian origin and its Global appeal. He also created his own unique style of body art by embracing the new-age technology in the field. Above all, he also did not forget his roots and is giving back to the society for which he is grateful. Here's something for every man out there fighting for a change in society, like Vikas you have to accept yourself first and keep doing what you feel right no matter what society and people say.
Written By: Indranil Mukherjee
Edited By: Chirajita Gupta