Veteran tattoo artist and founder of Freak Street Tattoos, Dinesh Maharjan, answers questions regarding getting inked in this Yeti Yap interview.
Hello, I’m Dinesh Maharjan from Freak Street Tattoo, Jhochhen, Basantapur. I started doing tattoos around 14 – 15 years ago. Today I am going to answer some tattoo related questions that you have given me.
Have you ever rejected someone’s tattoo idea?
I haven’t rejected a tattoo idea but, there are certain age limits such as [we don’t tattoo] under 18 year olds. And even with people who are above 18, if they have lots to study, they have certain kinds of jobs then we do not tattoo them where it can’t be hidden by their clothes. We reject that but we do not reject the tattoo idea itself. It is something they like so it’s not a good thing to reject it, right?
What are the most and least painful places to get tattooed?
When you get tattooed, the painful places are the ribs, the neck and such places like the stomach. Body parts such as the biceps, arms, and other stronger muscles are less painful.
What are some of the taboos and myths that you have heard about tattoos?
One of the myths I’ve heard for a long time about tattoos is, in Newari culture, our mothers, grandmothers, usually most of them have tattoos. The reason is that, after death, when they go to heaven or hell, they can sell their tattoo there is one of the myths I have heard aplenty for a while. Now, I haven’t exactly researched on the topic but that one – that you can sell it in the afterlife is one of the myths I have heard.
What do you think about eye tattoos?
It came from Australia by an artist called Luna Cobra, she discovered eye tattoos. I’d say the same about this (eye tattoos) as well. It’s up to each person.
Now, if someone likes it, they are free to do it but hopefully it doesn’t go bad and make the person blind. However, there are plenty of cases of accidents occurring as well. Personally, I like the eye ball tattoo. I like it, but I probably won’t do it. That is a risky thing to do. That is why I probably won’t do it but I don’t judge, I don’t find it too dangerous either. Generally speaking, I like eyeball tattoos. I love it.
What is the most unique tattoo you have done?
The most unique tattoo I have done is, at one point, I was experimenting [with] making a different type of tattoo, which I made 2 – 3 of as well. That was Thangka type; apart from the Gods and Goddesses, I had even put the grids of Thangka painting in the tattoo. I guess that would be my unique tattoo.
What is the most common type of tattoo?
The most common type of tattoo, in Nepal is probably Gods and Goddesses, feather tattoo, infinity tattoo is quite common.
How do I choose my first tattoo?
When you choose your first tattoo, firstly you have to bring a concept. What is the theme of the tattoo, even if you don’t have the design itself, at least bring a theme. Doing so, it would be easier for us to consult you. In that topic, if you bring a theme with you, we can suggest you the designs, we can make a design and tattoo it.
What if the tattoo artist makes a mistake?
Tattoo making has beginners and professionals. So, if the tattoo artist makes a mistake, then you can’t do anything about it. *chuckles* As in, you can’t really skip or rewind back. So, if it gets spoiled, it’s spoiled *chuckles*.
You should not be even slightly drunk when getting a tattoo. When you are drunk, your blood pressure is not in balance, and when you are drunk or stoned, some might even get seizures, fainting cause of low blood-sugar level.
So, for those reasons, you should be totally normal/fresh (sober) when you are about to get a tattoo.
The good and bad things about being a tattoo artist?
Pretty much, in a country like Nepal, what is considered as a professional job such as a doctor, engineer, etc., those jobs are given more respect, it seems. These days, it seems tattoo artists are also fairly respected but when I first started out, tattoo artist as a profession was not well known by people. Some used to even say ‘what kind of job is this?’. Things like that. There isn’t anything bad about it.
As a tattoo artist, in my career, I feel like I got myself into a fairly nice occupation. I did it because tattooing, as a subject, I had interest in tattoo making. There’s nothing that bad about it, I like it.
How much money do tattoo artists make in Nepal?
It’s like this: more than the money, it is about making something on someone’s body. Now, there are people who are in it because they can earn money. Now if they do it just thinking about the money then it is not a very good thing, but, if it is done well, then there is definitely money in it. In the end, if you do it well, if you put in work and can do it, if you can be good at it, then there is money [in the tattoo business].
Do you have any tattoos on your body?
Yes, of course, I am a tattoo artist, that’s why, yes, I have a few tattoos on my body.
Is it true that you cannot get certain jobs if you have a tattoo?
Certain jobs like police, army jobs don’t allow tattoos. Other than that, I don’t know anything, really. Even in other countries, some jobs don’t allow it. Like, you’d have to wear full sleeves while doing your job. Things like that. [In that case], try not to get tattooed on a visible place. Other than the police and army, I don’t think there are any restrictions. Now, there might be other jobs which have restrictions [regarding tattoos] but from what I know, the police and army don’t allow it.
Okay, last question.