Is that a real tattoo?

There is something about tattoos that still make us flip in our heads — the high of pain, and the courage to bear the needle as it inks a design or a name on your skin that will stay forever. But let’s face it, not all of us can bear the idea of pain

The excuses are innumerable, and people or philosophies that forbid you from getting inked are all around: bosses or spouses, parents or religion, or a genuine inability to live through the pain and blood. And what if you don’t like it after a while? “I always tell people in such situations that, if you can pull it off, just buy a tattoo sleeve. At least you will temporarily have what you want,” says AJ Alva, a tattoo and piercing artist at Al’s Tattoo Studio at Bandra.

(Left to right) AJ Alva, Genevieve Rebello and Nash D’Mello flaunt tattoo sleeves at Al’s Tattoo Studio in Bandra. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

A tattoo sleeve, made of breathable, stretchable material — mostly nylon or spandex — comes as a one-size-fits-all slip-on that you wear over your arm or just above your T-shirt sleeve. It extends to your wrist, and you must wear a watch or a sweatband to make sure the difference between your skin colour and the sleeve, which may be a shade or two different, is hidden from the suspecting eye.

Tattoo sleeves from the Delhi-based store, Tattoo Empire India

“People look at you in awe because they think you have undergone hours of pain at the tattoo parlour,” says Vibha Merchant, a nutritionist who ordered fake tattoo sleeves online a couple of years ago to wear them at a dance competition of a college festival. “I am not the sort who would wear this just as a fashion accessory, but the glances and approvals I got that day made me realise why certain people would.”

A tattoo sleeve can also act as a test-run for that tattoo you have been contemplating to get, but are not sure of people’s reactions. “These can also serve as a fashion statement for those who travel on two-wheelers, and need to protect their exposed hands from the sun,” says Anu Singh, founder of Tattoo Empire India which supplies tattooing equipment to tattoo parlours.

Rs 150 for a pair at Al’s Studio

Interested in upping the macho quotient with the help of these no-pain-all-gain sleeves? We looked around to figure where you can pick these up. Just make sure you don’t let anyone too close to your arm, and stay away from the annoying ones who ask too many questions about how painful the process was.

The other side
Many city-based tattoo artists who we called were quick to run down the idea that tattoo sleeves can become a fashion statement. “When you like or have tattoos, you are part of a cult,” says tattoo artist Vikas Malani from Body Canvas. “A tattoo is something that holds meaning for the person who has got it. If you are wearing fake tattoos for a TV commercial or a dance show, it is understandable. Otherwise, it’s just immature.”

But as Anita Alva from Al’s Tattoo Studio would tell you, “If clip-on earrings can be worn by people without a bias, why not fake tattoo sleeves? It all ultimately depends on how well you carry it.”

Al’s Tattoo Studio
This family-run tattoo parlour that has been synonymous with the growing tattoo culture of our city stocks fake tattoo sleeves sourced from China and Thailand, with design inspirations ranging from Celtic and the Japanese Yakuza to leopard prints that are more popular with the women. They come in a pack of two.
Where: 68, Hill Road, opposite St Peter’s Church, Bandra (W).
For: Rs 150 onward
Call: 26443326/ 26423890

Customised tattoo sleeves
In the movie world, Tushar Shah is known as the guy who has made temporary transfer tattoos for actors such as Aamir Khan (Ghajini), John Abraham (Force) and Konkona Sen (Wake Up Sid). But if you are nice to this Kandivli-based set designer, he will customise tattoo sleeves for you, too.
Cost: Rs 2,000 onward
Call: 9821176576

Log on
Tattoo Empire India supplies tattooing products such as needles, tattoo guns and ink to tattoo stores across the country. Though the payment gateway on their website is not activated yet, you can call these Delhi-based guys if you like any of the 12 tattoo sleeve designs on their website that range from tribal art, black-and-grey options to colour designs. They will fix the payment details with you and ship your product.
Cost: R 100 per sleeve
Log on to: www.tattooempire
Call: 011-22092232

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