Text by Kinjal Pandya
Body art has been a part of Indian culture for ages. Historically, tattoos have been used as a sign of strength, for protecting women or to record historic events. Since the ’70s, tattoos have become mainstream in global fashion. And over the years, tattoos have become a way of self-expression along with a fashion statement for people of all ages.
As we explored the existence of this art form, we met Mumbai’s tattoowaali – Heerkani. Like her name she is unconventional, with a hint of rebel, yet gentle and caring. As an exciting life story, she shared what made her a tattoowaali. Here’s a peek into her world.
“I began my career with advertising agencies like Ogilvy & Mather and Lowe Lintas. Then I chose to be an art director for films until I discovered my passion – being a tattoo artist.” Heerkani’s life is nothing but a book coming to life. Each chapter has a different story that is worth knowing. “Becoming a tattoo artist has been a journey of self-discovery.” So the next obvious question for us to ask is, when did this journey begin?
A journey from doodling to tattooing
“You could say I was born to be a tattoo artist. As a child, I was fond of shaping my imagination through doodling on pages, jeans, sarees, etc. It was much later in life that I realised that doodling was my way of drawing tattoos then.” When asked what inspired her to be a tattoo artist, she says “It may sound funny, but I was inspired to make tattoos because I wanted to gift everyone something that was permanent, personal and also dear to them.” Now that’s something unheard of.
Passion to Profession
“You can’t simply be inspired and do nothing about it.” Says Heerkani, who after realising her calling; learnt the art form to the letter. After learning, she started making tattoos for friends and family members. While she enjoyed knowing one’s unique story behind choosing a particular design, the experiences of people amazed her. “It’s like when you’re meant to do something; Universe simply supports you and surprises you with its blessings.”
Did you know? – While Priyanka Chopra got a tattoo – ‘Daddy’s little girl’ as a tribute to her late father, Angelina Jolie got coordinates of all her children’s adoption centres imprinted on her arm. An amazing way to keep your loved ones close to you, isn’t it?
Can tattoos heal someone?
Yes, even we were bumfuzzled when Heerkani said her aim is to heal people through tattoos. “I believe what separates one’s work from others is the heart or the intent they sow into it. I have had experiences where my clients tell me why they choose a design and together we hope that what they want is fulfilled. And you know what, it does! That’s the magic of intent.”
“Heerkani won’t ever tattoo anything that doesn’t have a personal story. Above that, while i was squirming with the idea of the pain- she put me to sleep for most part of the 6” square tattoo! How she does that- well; only she knows. Each tattoo on my body has a story, precision that gets noticed every single time. And lastly, her quirk is unmatched, I have truly been heerkanized!!!” Arpita Mehta Paliwal – a food stylist and a loving mommy.
Heerkani’s story encourages us to follow our hearts and live what we love. What do you think? Let us know through your comments.
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