Mooch Talks Episode 1: Lokesh Verma, Devilz Tattooz
The tattoo industry has grown massively over the years. However, there are not many artists who speak about the tattoo industry on a global as well as national level. We finally had the opportunity to interview one of the leading tattoo artists of New Delhi, Lokesh Verma. He is a veteran tattoo artist, a trainer, and one of the first people who started tattooing in India. MBA by qualification, his passion for art started from the age of 19, where he gradually made it to freelancing and then to a wholesome tattoo studio, named the Devilz Tattooz! He is internationally recognized and has won countless awards under his forte. He primarily specializes in geometric, quote lettering, realism, sound wave, and cover-up styles of tattoo. He has also tattooed multiple celebrities such as Remo D'souza, Esha Gupta, Swara Bhaskar, and many more.
Here is a quick excerpt of our conversation with Lokesh on our first episode of the Mooch Talks about his thoughts on the Tattoo industry on both national and global levels. So, without further ado, let's get rolling!
Busting Myths with Lokesh Verma
We got a chance to ask about some common myths that are prevalent in the tattoo industry and here is the gist of what the veteran artist had to say about them. Read along, to get some of your myths checked.
- Getting a tattoo is slightly painful. The pain is certainly bearable and not how people portray it to be usually.
- Alcohol or painkillers do not ease the tattooing process as you tend to bleed more while getting tattooed if you are already drunk beforehand. Also, it becomes tough for a tattoo artist to focus on creating the tattoo if you are not stable
- Be it India or other foreign countries, you can easily donate blood after 1 year of getting tattooed
- After the tattoo is done, it is the responsibility of the customer and not the artist to take proper care of the tattoo. It is important that they follow all the essential tattoo aftercare steps to help heal the tattoo and prevent infections.
- Pouring thick layers of ointment will just make your tattoo even worse. It is important that you apply a very thin layer of ointment for it to absorb. You can reapply the ointment once it dries up after a certain hour, and you should be just fine. Excessive ointment does not help.
- If your tattoo artist takes the right precautions and uses a safe and sterilized needle every time, you will never get infected with HIV or Aids. Hence, it is recommended to clearly check everything with the tattoo artist before getting a tattoo.
Heartwork Tattoo Festival
As we know, a Heartwork Tattoo Festival has been going on in Delhi for the last 5 years. What was your motive behind starting it?
Every other city or country had a convention that India never had. Hence, our team tried bringing this festival to India, wherein we celebrate the art of tattooing. We bring some of the best tattoo artists from across the world to view our artwork. This is a great platform where tattoo artists from both India and other countries can connect, interact, and showcase their talents. This will help bring our Indian Tattoo industry to an international level and bring more recognition to us.
Why the name Heartwork?
Tattoos are artwork, and we do it from our heart. So, the term Heartwork just clicked, and here we are!
What are the events conducted during the Heartwork Tattoo Festival?
The Heartwork Tattoo festival runs for 3 days in Delhi and is mostly focused on promoting different cultures. There are multiple seminars held by different international tattoo artists wherein people can learn more about tattoos and enhance their knowledge.
The entire festival is open to the public. Most of the renowned tattoo artists from all over the world come and join this event with full participation. You can also get a tattoo from your favourite tattoo artists. At the end of the day, we have multiple competitions and tournaments wherein tattoo artists are judged based on their tattoos and are given awards under numerous categories. In addition to that, you can also enjoy your favourite bands and other different activities such as skateboarding, etc. All in all, it is indeed a fun event that promotes the Indian Industry at a larger level.
Being in World's top 10 artists by Google
How does it feel to be ranked in the top 10 tattoo artists by Google?
Honestly, there are countless talented tattoo artists out there who also deserve to be on the list. Multiple tattoo artists within Eastern Europe are excellent but are not recognized enough. I am very grateful to be recognized by Google under Top 10 Tattoo artists. However, things have not changed much after this. I am still the same tattoo artist who is highly selective in choosing my designs and styles. I love what I do, and I am honored with this recognition.
What was your family's reaction to this achievement?
Such achievements are pretty much normalized in our house now. New press releases, magazine columns, and many more are published frequently. They are definitely happy with everything I achieve with my work.
Lokesh Verma's view on tattoo industry
What do you think about the growth in the Tattoo industry in India?
More than 15% of the people in the U.S have a tattoo, whereas, in India, the count comes down to just 1%. There has been a 30% growth of the tattoo industry in India in the past few years and it is commendable.
When I started my journey years ago, being a freelancer and professional, we used to do about 5-10 tattoos in a month, which increased to 500 tattoos in a month now. Hence, the growth has been tremendous over time.
How does the tattoo industry treat female artists?
There is no such discrimination against female artists in the tattoo industry. Irrespective of your age or gender, you will surely get more clients if you do a good job. If you don't, there is no way you will continue having more clients in the future.
Many tattoo artists from our studios, such as Angel, Sakshi, etc., are some of the most booked artists in our tattoo studio for their own style of work. Everything comes down to the quality of your work and not the gender in this industry.
What are the three things that make a good tattoo artist, in your opinion?
Since tattoo is a form of art, the aspirant must have good sketching skills. If you can't draw it well on paper, you can never do it on the skin. Hence, good sketching skills are an absolute necessity.
Secondly, you have to be a good listener. You need to listen attentively to the client's ideas, understand the requirements, and bring them to reality.
Lastly, you need to have creativity from within. Anyone can easily sketch or make it right after a few practices, but you cannot think of new ideas and designs if you do not have the creativity within yourself. It brings originality to your artwork.
Should there be a formal tattoo education system in the country?
Yes. There should be. When I started my journey, I ended up doing just the names during the first 4-5 years of my tattoo career. I was not aware of the different kinds of needles, inks, and many other technical things. I had no specific idea on what voltage to run the machine on and many more. Hence, most people will spend about 2-3 years exploring, experimenting, and understanding everything independently.
However, with a formal tattoo education system, you can quickly learn most technicalities and other aspects within the initial 2-3 months, which eventually saves up a lot of time and effort. Likewise, to survive in this competitive environment, it is recommended to learn from a professional in various tattoo schools during the initial years instead of wasting years just to learn the basics.
While teaching, what are some tips and tricks that you give to your students who are new to the tattoo industry?
Apart from sketching skills and technicalities, hygiene is the next most important thing to consider. Since we do not have any specific government laws here in India for tattoo artists related to hygiene, we need to self-inspect and carry out the job with the right ethics and morals. It is crucial that we make sure everything is properly clean and sanitized prior to usage. This will prevent cross-contamination of blood-borne pathogens within the studio, which might infect your clients. It is essential that you use disinfectants and carry out every other sanitary measure approved by the FDA after each tattoo session.
As a tattoo artist, should you master one style of tattoo or be open to every style?
Even though you need not master everything, you still need to understand all the basics, including all types of tattoo styles. Start by sketching and shading the tattoos which come from realism. You need to understand the composition and the flow of the body to understand which style of tattoo is on the body and examine accordingly. An artist who is good with realism can literally pull off almost every tattoo style effortlessly! However, if you still want to niche down, practice your basics for about 2 -3 years and then choose your own unique style and specialize in it.
What is the most challenging part of being a tattoo artist?
To create new designs every time for your clients right from scratch. Once you adapt to a specific style, it becomes tough to break away from that style and carve out something new on the body every time. Likewise, it becomes tough to change previous tattoo designs that you already have in your mind and shift the components according to the client.
What are some common misconceptions about tattooing as a career?
Most people, at least during my time, never felt tattooing was a respectable job. The work environment here is impeccable. You can easily implement your own creativity without any restrictions whatsoever. Hence, you have full freedom here. Nowadays, people are finally understanding this advantage and are finally taking their first steps of following their passion which is an incredible move! It all comes down to understanding yourself. Be it sketching, music, dance, or tattooing. It is important to fuel your passion forever alongside having a successful life ahead.
The unknown side of Lokesh Verma
Tell us something which nobody knows about you?
People tend to think I am exceptionally hard working. However, I am a very lazy person , which most people are not really aware of.
What is your experience as a Tattoo trainer?
I have been teaching since 2007 and have over 14 years of experience as a tattoo trainer. Amar was one of my first students who still works in our tattoo studio. Most of my students are doing well in their careers. Some of them are settled abroad, while some have their own tattoo studios in India.
I am highly selective when it comes to taking students for my tattoo courses. Since sketching is the backbone of the tattoo industry, I ensure that students who enroll do not just come by getting attracted to the glamour and lifestyle of the tattoo industry. I make sure they initially send me around 50 sketches, which will help me understand their passion and creativity. If I find somebody not much into art or unwilling to send me some sketches, I do not consider them.
What do you think about The TattooPedia?
Firstly, congratulations for taking the initiative to bring both the clients and the tattoo artists under a single platform. There are no such platforms here in India that really promote the tattoo industry currently. The Tattoopedia will surely be a great success if you selflessly keep working for the industry; you will surely make it. And the new initiative by them of organising a virtual community meet on The National Tattoo Day (July 17) is excellent. There would be multiple competitions and renowned speakers who are a part of this tattoo industry, sharing their journey and insights along with many freebies! Hence, this event is incredible for emerging tattoo artists or tattoo enthusiasts. For more information, check out the Instagram Page of The TattooPedia.
And here is a wrap to our conversation with Lokesh Verma today. Like we said, it is just an excerpt and there is more to come. If tattooing is something that interests you, you cannot miss the full conversation! Tune into the Mooch Talks on our Instagram Page today and get more insight regarding the tattoo industry, the lifestyle of tattoo artists, and many other exciting aspects!
Check out our previous post of the interview of Goutham Ramesh, who is another very talented artist out there, talking about the lifestyle of a tattoo artist in India.
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