She first went under the needle when she was seventeen, a little after getting into college. Fed up of people pronouncing her name the incorrect way, she got her name tattooed on her arm. It was something that had always left her upset and she thought it was the simplest solution. While some of those pronouncing her name wrongly may have finally got it right, it raised a storm at her home.

Mumbai-based Tejasvi Prabhulkar was in love with tattoos, but her parents did not approve of it. She was staying with her parents and their opinion still mattered for her. When she was in college, Tejasvi insisted that she wanted to make a career focused on tattoo art. Her parents made it clear that they would have none of it. The tussle continued unabated till one day all hell broke loose.

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She does not remember the exact date, but she was 19. Tejasvi thought in her mind that she’d had enough. She decided to move out of her parents’ house, stayed with a friend and devoted her time in learning the art of making tattoos.

“I wanted to be independent and was sure I wanted to grow a career in the art of making tattoos. I did online research, learnt the art of being patient while making tattoos and spent several hours over perfecting the skill,” Tejasvi says.

Six months later she returned home, after her dad called Tejasvi one day. He seemed to have a change of heart which Tejasvi learnt about soon. Her father wanted a tattoo on his arm and wanted Tejasvi to make it! She did it. That perhaps made him understand the craze about tattoos.

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As she explained the turn of events on the phone from Mumbai, it was not about being a rebel. It was about following the passion. She had been a painter as a kid, fell in love with idea of having a tattoo on her body, learnt the art of making tattoos and practiced it as a passion. As she completed her teens, she was getting ready for the world.

Eureka! Limca Book of Records

When in college, where she had enrolled in an undergraduate course in mass media, Tejasvi realised that a formal college degree would add no value to her career as a tattoo artist. It was time, therefore, to quit formal education, she reasoned. That is what she did.

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Her classmates in college were aghast. ‘How can you give up formal education to follow a passion like making tattoos?’ they asked. “I told myself that I had to prove them wrong,” Tejasvi recalls.

By the time she was 20, Tejasvi had been labelled as nothing short of crazy. She had dropped out of undergraduate college. In following her passion for tattoos, 25 of them had been inked on her body by then, and the passion had taken over her life.

Tejasvi got down to learning more about tattoos. After long hours of scouring the online world, she figured out that there were no records in the country around women making tattoos. During the searches, she came across the Limca Book of Records and how it featured the achievement of amazing Indians. She wanted to know more.

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After some effort, she connected with Vijaya Ghose, the Editor Emeritus of Limca Book of Records. The conversation with Vijaya threw up several ideas, while she explained that earning a mention in the record book needed appropriate documentation for the record to get registered. She decided she needed to raise the bar.

She taught me that age, gender and other things do not matter much. If you wanted to do something, you should be able to do it. I had 25 tattoos on my body then,” Tejasvi recalls.

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It was time to go for the kill. Over the next month, Tejasvi added 78 more tattoos to her body, sometimes getting as many as six in a day. All the tattoos were related to memories in her life. When she had crossed the three-figure mark, she presented the evidence to be included in the Limca Book of Records.

 


 

Challenges in making tattoos

It is not easy to use all colours on Indian skin because of its tone, temperature and other factors. Several colours do not stick on the skin because in some parts of the country, the heat makes it difficult.

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For tattoo artists, it could take up to 12 hours for making a ‘half sleeve,’ or inking half the arm, depending on the art to be designed. The machine that has the drawing needle is heavy and occasionally a pedal must be used. “It can be painful for the tattoo artist, who has to crouch throughout the process of making the tattoo,” Tejasvi says about the challenge at work.

Tejasvi, though, has been patient as she has earned a name for herself. Her followers on Instagram have crossed 15,000. She could be one of the faces of the youth of tomorrow. One who will have their way and stand out with what they do. She thinks her journey has just begun.

Only half of my body is covered so far. I want to ink my memories on my body. If someone breaks my record, I will be very happy since I will have inspired the person,” Tejasvi says of the years ahead.