Tattoo extravaganza


The International Nepal Tattoo Convention is becoming more dynamic every year, be it in terms of visitors, artists and techniques. The seventh edition is no exception. Featuring diverse styles, interesting tattoo lovers and attracting a good number of visitors, the second day (April 1) of the 7th International Nepal Tattoo Convention only seemed to get bigger and better.

From amazing portraits to trending geometric shapes to tribal art, it is featuring diverse art forms — nearly 100 booths of tattoo artists are catering to tattoo lovers in the three-day festival. With more visitors displaying interest in tattoo art, and talented artists busy inking their skills on enthusiasts, it is a place for all tattoo lovers.

Trending geometric shapes

People inking varieties of geometric shapes on their body was quite a common view at the Convention. Geometric shapes seemed to be the trend.

Dotwork, fine lined tattoos, hexagons and quadrilaterals are some of the designs in geometric patterns of tattooing.

“It’s intricate, even the small spaces have details and look good over time,” explained Matt Matik of Form 8 Tattoo, San Francisco, USA.

He added, “Geometric patterns are bold. As I am also interested in doing the art work of flora and fauna, I love mixing geometric patterns with flowers to bring the two styles together.”

Shapes of triangles, squares with solid black colour are inked on the body to give them the geometric pattern. “These are some of the styles of the modern period. They look bold and are graphic in design,” added Ben Volt, another tattoo artist from the US.

And he was inking 37-year-old Brannon Kirsch, a US national. Explaining the reason behind opting for geometric designs, Kirsch shared, “I just wanted to do it and I want my whole body to be covered in this art. It’s just what I want.”

For some, these geometric shapes are nothing more than lines and square boxes. But for Melow Perez, tattooist of Sacrifice, Barcilona, Spain, “it’s an expansion of life”. He explained, “There are intricate designs in geometric patterns — with lots of details, some thinner and some thicker, like life events some of which are important and some unimportant. I love mixing such thick and thin designs to make contrasts.”

Perez was inking 22-year-old Anil Bishwokarma, a tattoo artist from Mumbai, India. “I am getting an optical illusion on my throat as I am a big fan of Perez. In addition, I also want to do some geometric designs on my body as it is trending these days. It looks beautiful on skin,” Bishwokarma opined.

Tribal techniques

While most artists were using advanced equipment to do the body art, two traditional tattooists — whose booths are set up opposite the main stage — amazed the spectators with their unique tools and methods.

One of them was 35-year-old Hendra Folk, who has brought his tribal technique ‘Hand Tapping’ from the Indonesian Dayak tribe, to this Convention.

“This technique is less painful than machine. It is like acupuncture which helps to relax the body,” shared the artist who creates tattoos by hand-tapping the ink into the skin using sharpened wooden stick and needles.

He was making a hornbill on the wrist of a client at the Convention. The artist, who only creates tattoos that belong to the Dayak tribe, shared, “Hornbill has great value in the Dayak tribe. It is a bird which is believed to carry the human soul to heaven after death.”

Folk has been professionally practising this method of tattooing since 1997.

Sharing the space with him was Thai artist Ajahm Man. It is his fourth time at the Convention and the 32-year-old artist tattoos using Sak Yant style.

“It is very old like Buddha — 2,000 years old. We use sharpened bamboo and needle to etch ink into the skin with hand.”

He practises this traditional Thai art to protect Buddha’s philosophy and culture. Man, whose body is covered in Buddhist mantras, shared, “In this method, the tattoos are hand-etched onto skin — and the tattoos are a mix

of geometric shapes and Buddhist prayers.”

Hinduism charm 

Twenty-five years ago Australian artist Tim Rix came to Nepal to climb Mt Everest and he succeeded. “I celebrated my 18th birthday on the top of Mt Everest. It was fantastic.”

Now participating in Convention as an artist for the first time, 43-year-old Rix said, “It is well organised. People are helpful and I’m enjoying the moment.”

Rix’ booth — Traditional Tattoo — is decorated with pictures of Hindu deities. When asked about the influence of Hinduism in his works, he said, “Religion is something spiritual to me. I was fascinated by Hindu gods and goddesses when I first came to Nepal. These gods are visually amazing. I am a student of art and I have been making tattoos of Hindu gods for sometime now.”

He is fascinated by deities like Shiva, Ganesha and Hanuman. “They are amazing. I don’t know the stories behind them but they look fascinating.” And he was looking forward to ink his style on a Chinese client at the Convention.

Inked memories

Looking around at the people attending the Convention, it is not unusual to see people brandishing amazing tattoo works on their bodies. And such tattoos have special meaning for someone like 24-year-old Santosh Acharya.

His right chest brandishes portraits of a man in Nepali dhaka topi and a woman with tika on her forehead and wearing a saree. “It’s the portrait of my parents — Dhurba Raj and Sabitra Acharya” that Santosh inked some three years ago in Thamel. And it is Santosh’s way of expressing his “immense love for his parents”.

He got the work done because “I was going to Malaysia for a six-month Hotel Management course. At that time I felt I would be missing them too much. So, as to see them when I missed them, I inked their portraits on my chest”.

Tattoos help you connect with your loved ones while reflecting your love and attachment for them. That is why 26-year-old Rajan Maharjan has inked his left chest with his sister Radhika Maharjan’s portrait.

“She passed away when she was six,” and Rajan got the tattoo around two years ago. “And her tattoo makes me feel that she is with me,” he admits.

Love for large

Other than his sister’s portrait, Rajan has a big tattoo of Bhairav on his back.

“I always wanted to ink a large-sized tattoo,” shared Rajan who has been fascinated with tattooing since a long time now. And he got the back piece some six months ago.

Jenesis Shrestha too loves large-sized tattoos and thus, he is getting one at the Convention. Artist Shailesh Maharjan from X Inn Tattoo, Kirtipur was busy inking a tattoo of Goddess Kaali on Jenesis’ back on April 1.

Why big pieces? “Large designs are interesting and good to look at,” Jenesis explained his reason for opting for a big piece, to which Shailesh added, “People these days are more attracted to large sized tattoos as they want change. Earlier they were fascinated with small pieces. People find large pieces interesting to look at.”

But big tattoo designs carry more meaning other than being interesting to look at for Sanmith Narvankar. The tattooist from India has inked the image of Ravan with 10 faces and a Shivalinga on his back.

Why ink Ravan and Shiva, that too in big size? “We have always taken Ravan as a villain. But I want to change people’s way of viewing Ravan through this tattoo. Each face of Ravan has a different meaning — his big face in the middle indicates his extensive knowledge while other smaller faces reflect his feelings of anger, love, lust et cetera. Shivalinga represents the cosmic lives,” Narvankar explained.

Not just tattoos

When most artists were busy inking, Lucile Giusjo was busy making necklace using black thread. “It is macramé technique which I learned in France,” she shared.

Now residing in Australia, Giusjo has come to the Convention with other Australian tattooists. “The Convention is all about tattoo artists but when people see my work they ask questions and praise my work.”

She has already sold many bracelets and rings made using threads.

“I have learned the technique myself once I learnt the basics. Now, I’m doing this professionally for a year,” she informed.

She uses polyester thread from Brazil to make her work. “You can also use cotton and use thin or thick threads as per your choice”.

As per her, “It is like drawing. I create the image in my mind first and try to weave the designs. If I sincerely work,

I can finish one necklace in 10 hours.”

Observation only

Not everyone present at the Convention wanted to get inked — though tattoo stalls were crowded with people, many were just giving a curious look.

One of them was 24-year-old JR, who had come to the Convention with five of his friends all the way from China. “We are here from China to observe this Convention. It is good because it is of international level. We can see works of many artists from all around the world,” he shared.

JR, who works as a tattoo artist in China, shared, “I mostly do symbols and traditional art.”

And the tattoo on his chin — a straight line and the text that read ‘Take My Curses Fearless’ — too seemed to have some symbolic meaning.

“It means just take it over,” he laughed.

Ema Bodin, 27, from Sweden had no intention to get inked but she was at the Convention, just to see. “It’s exciting to see people getting something on their body for the rest of their life. It’s interesting to see and know what kind of

designs people are interested in and how the tattoos are inked,” Bodin shared.

And some visitors were among those who are scared to get tattooed. Yet they were at the Convention as “it is interesting to see people getting inked. It’s very exciting and interesting”, shared 25-year-old Mari Aunegierdet from Norway, who was visiting the Convention with her friends.

What: 7th International Nepal Tattoo Convention

When: March 31 to April 2

Time: 11:00 am to 7:00 pm

Where: Heritage Garden, Sanepa (Old Gyanodaya School)

Ticket price: Rs 200 per day; tickets available at the venue on the days of the event

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