Doesn’t conform & doesn’t need to ‘fit in’: Meet India’s most ergonomic tattoo artist

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ergonomic: (loosely translates to) efficient in their working environment

India is bustling with young tattooing talent all over, with the better ones of the lot having worked for almost or over a decade now. Tattooing is an intensive craft and trade that demands years of practice to master the art form, much like a doctor. The more experienced your tattoo artist is, the better they are supposed to be in their technical understanding, knowhow and execution. But in general, tattooing has moved to a state of mind that is beyond just these qualities. The calibre of a modern day tattoo artist depends very much on an editorial outlook, contextual understanding of subjects and a grasp of changing ideas of tattoo aesthetics. And leading the charge in modern day tattooing in India is Zaheer Chhatriwala.

Image Credit: Zaheer Chhatriwala

Zaheer operates his own studio in Bandra, Studio Z, and is not only one of India’s finest tattoo artists, but also one of the most in-demand ones throughout the year. His books are filled with appointments throughout the year, and I think I can say this without adding a maybe, that Zaheer’s understanding of what his clients want in their tattoo is unmatched. While on one hand, he has mastered the ability to produce a unique tattoo every time, at the same time, when you go through his Instagram handle or his portfolio, you will see a parity in style, color palettes and compositions that are unique to his tattoos. His idea of tattoo aesthetic stems from his editorial approach to his clients’ ideas, instead of depending on what’s trending on the internet. His compositions seamlessly tie up all the elements in every tattoo, and create a visual unique to his school of thought.

Zaheer is very unlike the run of the mill tattoo artists you generally come across. He has never felt the need to change his social media surname to ‘Tattooist’, he avoids filters and photoshop enhancements to make the pictures of the tattoos he makes look better than they originally are, and doesn’t spend a penny on buying followers and fans. And that’s because he doesn’t need to!

This is how i do a color tattoo… its been so long since ive had the oppurtunity to do a full blown color piece in my favourite muted and pastel color palette & this time its an image of a sultry seductive indian woman emerging from a lake with a wet saree clinging to her body ! Was such a pleasure going crazy with colors and pushing my skills beyond my limits this time trying to mimic an oil painting… this is not like any other color tattoo as its very challenging to achieve these tones and get this pastel effect and this was only possible thanks to my client who gave me complete artistic freedom and sat for 14hours over 2 days… its worth all my back pain and eye strain in the end… so thanks a lot james, you’ve been just awesome… feedbacks and suggestions are greatly valued ! P.S. no Photoshop finishing ,color enhancements ,contrast editing or filters… raw phone pic

A post shared by Zaheer Chhatriwala (@zaheer_c) on

Zaheer’s success over the recent years stem from his ergonomic approach to tattooing. He has worked more on his technical skills than figuring out how to stand out in the crowd, and ultimately that dedication towards his craft has created this identity for him that doesn’t require embellishments to stand out. His work speaks for itself, and so do his happy clients. As he himself pointed out to me in this interview couple of years back, ‘Now, people are like, We have seen your work. We trust you.

Conceptual/Dotwork koi & lotus inner arm piece ! Posting multiple pictures of this unique piece i have worked on over 3 sessions… my client basically just gave me complete creative freedom and was super cool with my suggestions and overall vision… i have done a couple of koi’s throughout my career and i wanted to do something i have never done or seen so this is what i ended up creating… almost all of the tattoo was freehanded including the rendering, textures & composition …some areas of the tattoo are completely healed from the 1st sitting …thanks a lot shivang for giving me this opportunity man… would really appreciate your honest feedbacks and suggestions or criticisms 🙂 P.S. no photoshop edits or filters… raw daylight pictures

A post shared by Zaheer Chhatriwala (@zaheer_c) on

Zaheer is quite the ideal example to hold up for the thousands of youngsters learning to tattoo now. It is definitely a lucrative profession for many because of the payout and local popularity involved, but only by staying true to the art form can you elevate yourself to the next level, and no one in India probably symbolises that as well as Zaheer Chhatriwala.

Image Credit: Zaheer Chhatriwala

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