Tattoo Artist Spotlight: Rito (Trippink)

Ritopriyo Saha is an Indian tattoo artist based in Bangalore. He began tattooing in 2007 after observing artists tattooing at Brahma and Dark Arts tattoo studios in Bangalore, before teaching himself how to work the tattoo machine.

He is currently one of the artists and co-owners at Trippink.

 

Head on over to Trippink to book an appointment with Rito today!

 

Starting Out

“I started tattooing in the summer of 2007.

I came to Bangalore when I was 18. Till then I’d lived in my hometown, Calcutta, with my family. I was actually a very good student back then. I even appeared for the CET, and my rank was 250 all-India – which is a pretty good rank! This was one of the most ecstatic points in my life, but sadly, it didn’t work out.”

 

“I was especially good at science and maths, but after I entered college I realized this wasn’t what I was meant to do. I didn’t like the college I was in. I was also living in a tiny place – it was just a bedroom and a bathroom on the terrace, and 3 people were living in that space. No kitchen, nothing else. Even the bathroom was really just a pan – I don’t think it even had a tap!

So I was in a very difficult situation, bored of life, and out of it the whole time, never knowing what to do and where to go.”

 

Finding the Way

“I knew I had to figure out a way to do something other than engineering without telling my parents.

I was on the lookout for different options, and I found a guy in my college who did tattooing as a hobby. He used to make his own tattoo machine with a pen nib, a DC motor, and some rubber bands, and he used to ask his clients to get their own needles. Some of my friends were really interested in tattoos, so I went with them and just watched as he did tattoos in a very crude way.

I saw the client bleeding so much that I thought – there must be a better way to do this.

 

“I was already good at art from a very early age, I’d been drawing already for a long time. I was also doing all kinds of creative projects for college festivals. So there were a lot of people in college who already knew I was good at art and drawing who were ready to try getting a tattoo from me.

But I hadn’t started tattooing yet by then. For the first 6 months I researched a lot. That time there were a few shows on TV, like Miami Ink and a little later LA Ink. These were shows I started watching. And of course, YouTube videos.”

 

“In Bangalore, I went to Brahma and Dark Arts tattoo studios and saw how they were working, what the procedure was. I just sat and watched what they were doing. At that time, no one was ready to teach me, even though I asked and showed them my artwork. They were unsure about me, for some reason.

I just watched people doing tattoos, in video or in real life, and then after teaching myself to tattoo for those first 6 months – I started getting my own materials and slowly started. And then for 1 year, I did tattoos for free.

 

 

Head on over to Trippink to book an appointment with Rito today!

 

First Tattoos and First Mistakes

“I started out by tattooing myself. I did 4 on myself – some on my hands, one on each leg – before I did it on anybody else. Once I knew what I was doing, I started tattooing all my friends in college for free. I would go around the canteen making an announcement “anyone who wants tattoos, please come”. This was in my third year of college.

Within a year I was pretty good, but the first 6 months as a rookie there were some bad tattoos because the knowledge of what needles to use, what voltage to use, for shading or for lining, it took some time for me. I’m still covering them up one by one. All of them were done on good friends who I still hang out with, people who trusted me with their life! They still say that if they did not give me my skin I would not be where I am today.

I’m very grateful for that.”

 

“I have no intention of changing my own tattoos though. I like them, although they’re not of the best quality – it’s much better than a lot of other first tattoos I’ve seen! – but they’re a memory for me. They remind me of how tough times were when I started.

“Within a year, through word of mouth, a lot of people started coming to me for tattoos, and soon I started charging money for them.

 

Check out the rest of this full body tattoo, done in collaboration with fellow Trippink artists Sachin and MK at Tattoos and Humans: A Tattoo Can Change Your Life

 

This would never have been possible in my hometown of Calcutta where most people live with their family, and it’s not possible to do what you want. But in Bangalore, there are a lot of independent people who are free to make their own decisions and try something new.

So I think that boosted my career also in a certain way.

 

Struggles and Loss

“Starting out was a struggle, because besides not having the knowledge or enough money, my dad stopped talking to me. My parents would tell me people were dying for the opportunity to do engineering and couldn’t understand why I would drop out. My dad didn’t have any idea of what tattooing could be as a career. He thought it was something like sitting on a street corner doing drawings for 20 rupees.

I lost contact with my family for two years.

 

After that, FaceBook happened, and my family started seeing posts about what I was doing. My mom showed it to my dad, telling him their son was actually doing a good job, and he slowly got back in touch with me. It started with ‘how are you’ and then went on to ‘where are you living now, we’ll come and visit you’.

It was a struggle, but it’s okay now! We started Trippink in 2015.

 

On Being Inspired

“The best kind of inspiration for me is the way a tattoo changes a person. And when that person sees that change, and that smile on their face that’s full of gratitude because you have now made a significant change to their life – that gratitude is what really inspires me.”

 

“You can connect with people in different ways. When you’re just talking to them or shaking their hand or having a drink with them.

Tattooing is one of the deeper ways to connect with somebody, because you’re directly dealing with the skin and blood of that person. And the way I deal with my clients is in a very friendly way. I keep chatting with them while I’m tattooing. I get to know their life history, where they come from, their passions and hobbies.

 

Getting to know a person and getting to change that person is the greatest inspiration that I have. And of course, the smile on their face is my biggest reward. Most of my clients leave happy with my work, and they come back. They become my friends. That is one of the really nice things that I get out of tattooing, that keeps me inspired.

 

“If I had to pick, I’d say my favourite artists are Yogi from Leo Tattoos in Mumbai, I’d love to get a tattoo from him someday, and from outside India, Chaim Machlev. Both these artists are linework-based tattoo artists rather than realistic and that is the kind of work I like, that’s why they’re my favourites.

There are hundreds of other artists I could name, because the world is full of brilliant tattoo artists right now. When I started there were only a few, but now there are so many and it’s amazing to see. If you look at my Insta feed it’s full of artists, scrolling through it your whole day will pass!”

 

Head on over to Trippink to book an appointment with Rito today!

 

Life Outside Tattooing

“When I’m not tattooing, I’m painting, or playing music, or writing. I write poems and short stories.”

 

Check out some of Rito’s writing at ritoproyosaha.blogspot.com

 

“I used to write more, but these days I’ve not written as much after having my child. I don’t get much time to get lost in my thoughts because all my thoughts are regarding him right now.

 

“But I do still write. I’m writing a few short film scripts.

 

Cherishing What Matters

Tattoos are an extension of who you are. That’s a very cliche sentence, but they are. Just like how we choose clothes based on our character or personality, and we wear what will complement us, similarly we choose a tattoo that complements our personality, so I think of it as an extension of ourselves.”

 

“Many people are confused whether tattoos are just a style statement or something deeper than that. Especially first-timers come who are not very sure of what they want.

“It’s a part of my consultation to say that it’s not always necessary to get something new but it’s more important to get something you already have. Something that will never change in your life, some achievement, some thought that is so close to you that it will never leave you. Something that is already deep inside your heart, you just put it on your skin.

Cherish what you already have rather than getting something totally new if you’re not sure of what you want.”

– Ritopriyo Saha

 

Life and Duality

“This tattoo that I’m getting I’ve been thinking about getting it for a long time. This is a sri yantra. It’s a very famous symbol in Hindu mythology which represents the duality of life.

 

“Duality is a very favourite subject for me. Because as long as we exist, we have to face duality – day and night, male and female, good and bad, positive and negative – life is based on duality. Breathe in, breathe out. If I breathe in and I don’t breathe out, then my life ends. If I breathe out and I don’t breathe in, my life ends.

As long as I am living, duality exists.

And I really dwell on that. I’ve done a series of abstract paintings based on the concept of duality.”

 

“You need to be able to feel the duality to be an artist. The moment you don’t feel the duality anymore, you cease to be a human, a living being, let alone an artist. An artist is a person who should feel duality much more than anyone else.

That’s why I’m getting this tattoo.”

 

Head on over to Trippink to book an appointment with Rito today!

 

Art is Expression

Tattoos are a way of speaking to the world – this is me, this is who I am, just like another piece of clothing to me.”

 

“In one word, my art is ‘expression’.

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We would like to thank Rito and Trippink for showing us the interesting turns life can take – and how important duality is to that journey!

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View one of Rito’s most extensive pieces – a whole body suit of religious tattoos – done in collaboration with tattoo artists Sachin and MK at Trippink.

Read about Sachin’s journey to becoming a tattoo artist in our Tattoo Artist Spotlight Series. See more of MK’s work at Tattoos and Humans: A Life Without Regrets

 

Have your own stories to tell? Head on over to jhaiho.com to book your tattoo appointment and get inked today!

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Looking for more tattoo inspiration? Browse our site!

 

Looking for the right tattoo artist? Visit Tattoo Artists in Bangalore: Finding the Best Artists in Town

 

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