Bandra Ink II
Part 2 of The Bandra Project’s feature on tattoo parlours.
In the middle of Carter Road’s busy restaurant strip is Swapnil Gawde’s year and a half old tattoo shop, Tattoostar Collective. Greeted by his friendly colleague Harshad, we stepped into the cosy parlour. A graduate of fine arts from the J.J. School of Arts, Swapnil freelanced from home before deciding to open his own place.
Photographs by Evren D’Souza
In true Bandra style, the Tattoostar Collective turns into a local hangout as people gather outside it in the evenings to chill. Mostly frequented by college kids and “creative types,” Tattoostar relies on the word of mouth that has slowly made it more well known. Swapnil has lived in Bandra for 6 years now, and deems it the “cool” part of the city. “People here are open to new ideas, and you can be yourself.”
When I asked Swapnil about the weirdest tattoo he’s had to do, he tells me between fits of laughter about an Irish guy who wanted the word “potato” on his, uh, testicles since that was his wife’s nickname for him. “Well he paid us Rs. 5000 for it, so we just did it!”
Perhaps the most well known tattoo artist in the city is Sameer Patange. Through a small hair salon, and up a precariously steep and narrow staircase is his small 16th Road studio. In the 5 year old Kraayonz, it’s hero versus hero as photographs of Hritik Roshan and Sanjay Dutt posing with their new tattoos compete with colourful X-men threatening to jump off the walls.
Sameer has been a tattoo artist for the past 14 years, and finally decided to open his own place in Bandra. “It’s the hub, the fashion base,” he says. “Things emerge from Bandra.” Sameer went to college in the Bandra and remembers hanging out at Carter Road. “But back then you wouldn’t really see too many people around. Suddenly there was a change with places like Crepe Station opening up and creating a buzz. Everyone wanted to be a part of Bandra.”
One of his strangest experiences a tattoo artist happened when a man requested him to do a noose with the words “I quit.” Sameer decided to call it off. “I didn’t want to be a part of it. I mean I’ve also had my shares of ups and downs, but this was a little too extreme.”