Tattoographer Karan talks Eyeball Tattoos and his Love of Body Art

Tattoographer Karan entered into radars for his eyeball tattoos. We chat with him to talk more about his passion for tattoos and his unusual body art.

Collage of Karan

"It’s like creating a whole new character - like in the movies."

28-year-old Karan, better known as ‘Tattoographer Karan’, hit headlines for his unusual eyeball tattoos. Sparking divided opinions, his images certainly raised many eyebrows.

With this latest addition of body art, Karan describes himself as “the 1 in 1.3 billion Indians”. He explains that he hails as the first Indian to have eyeball tattoos, as well as the first Indian to get a full body suit tattoo.

Karan reveals “the phenomenon of creative art residing permanently in the skin” always intrigued at a young age. This interest has led him to adorn many tattoos and body piercings.

A tattoo artist that takes massive pride in his work, he focuses on “uniqueness, art and creativity”. Believing that the profession chose him, he brings dedication and commitment to every piece he works on.

Now, in an exclusive interview, DESIblitz chat with Tattoographer Karan about his passion for body art. What he loves about working as a tattoo artist and asking the questions on everyone’s lips about his eyeball tattoos.

How did your passion for tattoos begin?

I have always been into art. I got my first tattoo when I was 13 and since then I’m unstoppable.

Tattoos, piercings, body art of all forms – even clothing or how one carries him/herself – makes them unique.

It made me a better and different person every time I got inked or pierced myself, which made my passion become bigger.

How did you become a tattoo artist?

I started making tattoos when I was 16. Luckily, life showed me a tough time at an early age and I had only one option – that was to give my absolute best (which became my permanent way of living) to become better every day.

Karan wearing a multi-coloured jacket.

Today I have an experience of thousands of tattoos I’ve made in India, UK and US since over a decade and growing.

Where did the inspiration come from to have eyeball tattoos?

I understand that most people find inspiration outside, whereas I recognise inspiration within myself. My future self-being is my inspiration. I am a visionary. I saw myself as to how I wanted to be and I became that.

It’s like creating a whole new character – like in the movies. I could become anything so I became a superhuman. I know luck comes into play when you want to achieve something. With that, the harder you work, the luckier you get.

Did the procedure hurt at all?

There are two aspects of this question according to me:

  • Does the procedure hurt?
  • Did it hurt me?

Yes, it’s a mentally and physically painful procedure. Tell someone about getting injected multiple times in their eyes with their consent and notice how they feel the same moment. It’s unimaginable and unacceptable. That was the mental part.

The physical pain that demands to be felt is like a burning needle (although it’s cold) entering your eyeball at multiple spots from different angles to penetrate ink.

I was prepared, I was offered a medicine to reduce sensation and I said: “I don’t wanna waste even a single minute”.

I opened my own eyes by my own hands to get injected and inked. I kept my eyes open (even when the mind wanted to squeeze them) and I kept my eyeballs stable while the needles were in (if they’re in and you move your eyeballs – it’s a risky situation – even the eye can be gone)

My answer to the hurt question is no! It didn’t hurt me. I’d get it again and again if I had to.

When you told friends and family about the tattoos, did it take some time for them to support your decision?

I used to propose the idea once a week to my best friend, Dad and brother (Mom is neutral when it comes to some major decisions).

Karan standing

Eventually when they saw that I have great potential, that I want to explore and they knew I am 100% certain, they were happy with my decisions. I only required their affirmation after which I wouldn’t care about anyone’s opinion in the world.

I kept patience as always and once they were ready as well after a few months, I brought the time of my new life into existence.

How has the viral reaction been to your tattoos?

I’ve had a mixed reaction online and admiration in reality. People often say that they get mesmerised [and] hypnotised which is surprising for me. Some say that my persona is powerful and many say: “You’re a beautiful man”.

I have always been courageous in my life. I don’t quit, I don’t get affected by any not so positive opinion and I keep working towards my goals.

People have appreciated my strength and efforts. That there was something I was willing to achieve and I did it, even if a massive number of people approve of it or not.

What do you enjoy most about tattoos and being a tattoo artist?

I enjoy creating fusion art. Not following the traditional standards. I love creating unique, personalised, customised and detailed pieces of artwork.

Being a tattoo artist, I know that I am giving something to someone on their skin for life. I deliver the art which they cherish for life. It’s MY work first and then it’s the work on someone’s body.

Colourful, regal tattoo design

People get satisfied and excited even in half of the work. I know there’s a lot of scopes and I love fulfilling that. More than an exchange or business – it’s personalised to me. I possess empathy and the sense of belongingness that it’s someone’s skin being permanently marked by me just like my own skin.

What are South Asian attitudes towards tattoos like nowadays?

Every individual has a different view, depends on their thought process, background and choice. I’ve noticed that it’s slightly more in the youth. That they’re more willing to be creative and different. They have more acceptance towards unconventional art and beauty.

There are always different types of people, some would judge you and lose the opportunity to know the real you, some would accept you as to how you are and appreciate you.

What’s next for your plans to have a complete body tattoo?

My full body suit black-work-style tattoo is already in progress, since more than 6 months where we (me and the team of my tattoo artists) do my tattoos for 3 to 4 full days back to back every month.

Half of my body is already done and [the] rest will be done very soon. I will have one tattoo (all connected) head to toe tips. Every single body part tattooed. Even the private parts (front I’d ink myself).

Black and white tattoo

I’ve never had any pain relievers, neither I’m interested in them since I have developed the thought process and ability to conquer pain.

I am about to introduce and release some more revolutionising things in the Indian body art industry. Which I’d like to execute first and the act will speak on its own.

Tattoographer Karan truly shows his passion and commitment to body art. Not just with his own inkings, but with the tattoos he creates on his clients. Uniqueness, creativity and personality are what fuels this ambitious tattoo artist.

His eyeball tattoos strongly reflect this. While many would feel wary of such a complex procedure, Karan went in completely prepared. Researching on the tattoo and how to remain safe.

When Karan does complete his full body tattoo, we’re sure many will be divided over the look. But for the tattoo artist, it’s more than ‘looking cool’; it’s about fulfilling the inspiration within.

If you want to see more of Karan’s work, please visit his Instagram and website.

Sarah is an English and Creative Writing graduate who loves video games, books and looking after her mischievous cat Prince. Her motto follows House Lannister's "Hear Me Roar".

Images courtesy of Tattoographer Karan