Tattoos are a means of expression. We get them to celebrate an achievement or a passion, when we meet someone special or break up with them, and sometimes for no good reason at all. But irrespective if it’s your first tattoo or your fiftieth one, before going under the needle there’s always a couple of things you should do and more importantly, a couple of things you definitely shouldn’t do.
We spoke to Ali Burrni, the founder of the famed Burrn’ink Studio, about his journey to success as a tattoo artist and some of the worst things you could do as a client.
1) What inspired you to become a tattooist? Was there any inhibition or doubts in choosing this as your profession?
Back in 2008, a guy from Thailand called Taka, who was my brother’s friend, introduced me to tattooing and at the time I was in school and had no idea at all about it. He was my inspiration for being a tattoo artist.
At first, I did have doubts about choosing tattooing as a career because I always wanted to be a musician. I am from a Muslim background, so tattooing was always a big no, but my family was quite supportive enough at those crucial initial stages, so that helped me build my career as a tattoo artist.
2) How was Burrni’ink Studio started?
Burrni’ink Studio started in 2015. I previously worked at a tattoo studio for five years before deciding to venture out on my own and start this studio.
I took my family name and added “ink” to it and that’s how Burrn’ink became the name of my studio. It was located in Greater Kailash before and has moved to Haus Khas village in New Delhi.
3) Do you think there is an amount of stigma around tattoos in India? If yes, then why do you think that is?
The stigma is definitely way less than it used to be, because the concept of tattoo art has been around for a while now in India.
There was a certain amount of stigma before as it was not practiced in a hygienically safe way by people who had no training. I still see a lot of people getting tattoos by the road side but the circumstances have definitely improved.
4) What are things clients sometime do at tattoo parlours that they should avoid?
For one, wanting lots of details in quite a small space. This is quite difficult for me to work with.
Second, clients trying to pretend they know better than us. But once they realize that we’re the experts, they sit back and let us do our work.
When clients bargain, if you don’t bargain at branded stores, why do you think that would be possible at our studios? Prices are usually discussed during the initial consultation, so when clients still walk into the studio and start bargaining, we’re completely boggled.
When clients arrive drunk, When you’re drunk in a tattoo studio that means you’re not going to take a wise decision about design, placement, etc. Also if you’re getting it done drunk, your threshold for pain will be very low.
Bringing the entire family along for one person’s tiny tattoo. No explanation necessary 🙂
5) Tell us the weirdest experience you have had with a client
A couple of years ago, a guy came to our studio and got a tramp stamp of his girlfriend’s name on his lower back! It was pretty weird for us. And in general, a tattoo of a significant other’s name is a pretty foolish decision.
When I was new in the tattooing industry, I used to see people coming in to get silly and funny tattoos, but now they do their research before coming in.
6) Do you have any words of advice for aspiring tattoo artists?
I conduct tattooing courses for aspiring tattoo artists and the one thing I’ve noticed is that they’re excited and eager to jump to the complex stuff. I would tell them to be patient and learn the basics thoroughly first as it will pay off in the long run.
Written by Yukta Reddy
Image Credit: Ali Burrni