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You Will Be Surprised To Know The Kind Of Places People Want Their Tattoos–Bizzyasky

Source: Hazeez Balogun. - Nigeriafilms.com
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In order not to get stuck with unemployment after school, Ojikutu Abisola went to learn a very peculiar trade of tattoo making. When he finished school, he set up Bizzyaski Tattoos and it became an instant hit. Today, celebrities storm his Lagos office to get ink on their body. He visited Saturday Independent recently and had a chat with SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, Hazeez Balogun.

Tatoos are usually not widely accepted in Nigeria. How does this affect your business?

The truth is that tattoos have been in Nigeria and Africa for a very long time. It is wrong to think that tattoos are something that just started in recent times. Some weeks ago, I saw an old woman with a tattoo. From the looks of the tattoo, I could tell it was not new. When I asked her, she said that she got it over 50 years ago. So, you can imagine how long that is.

You are right to say that many people still see tattoos as something that is wrong or something that does not make you look responsible. But today, things are changing. You will see role models that are wearing tattoos. Do you know how many people look up to P-Square? Yet, they wear tattoos. So nowadays, tattoos are not seen as negative as before.

As regards your question about how it is affecting my business, I can say it does not. I still have a growing number of clients. The number of clients I have this year is more than the number I had last year. So the business is actually growing.

Why did you go into tattoo drawing?

When I was in my second year in school, my mother saw that there was a lot of unemployment for graduates, so, she advised me that while I was going to school, I can go and learn a trade so that when I finish school, I will not have to start looking for a job like others. That was how I decided to go and learn tattoo making.

So how did your mother take it when you told her that you wanted to learn tattooing?

My mother is an open-minded woman. She really does not see anything wrong with tattoos. She herself has marks on her face, so I think she just does not worry too much about it. She was more concerned that I learned the job properly and be good at what I do.

How does one learn tattoo making?

To be a tattoo artiste, you must know how to draw. I am very good at sketching, so it was easy for me to blend. I met a Lebanese who used to do tattooing on the Island. He took me in and I started watching him. At first, he did not know that I could sketch. So, one day, he saw my sketches and he was really impressed. Little by little, he started allowing me to work with the needle. Now, he is no longer in the country but I think he is the best teacher someone can have.

Tattooing someone's body means that you will have to pierce into the skin and that could be described as minor surgery. Do you need a special licence to operate?

To be sincere, tattoo artists all over the world require special licences to work. But in Nigeria, it is like the government is focusing on other serious issues than to be worried about our profession. I agree that there should be licences but there is none, but if tomorrow such licence is introduced, trust me I will be one of the first to get it. Such licence is good because it allows us to work anywhere. We can go now to the US to practise as long as we show them that we are licensed. But for now, there is nothing like that.

What now happens when someone gets wounded or infected?

Because we do not have licences does not mean that we do not have ethics. Our customer's health is one of our priorities. If there is any issue, then I will lose customers. The most prominent scare is infection. We make sure that we do not use the same needles for two customers. We have a one- customer one-needle policy. In fact, we ask the customer to tear the pack of needle by himself. Then after the tattoo is done, we make sure that they use over the counter anti-biotic like ampiclox. Also, because tattoos can be itchy after completion, some customers may start scratching it, that way they can pass infections to it, so we have medications we apply on the tattoo. We also advise them not to touch or scratch the spot for some days.

But is it not painful?

That was in the old days; today you will not even know that you are being tattooed. There are painkillers that will numb the part that is being tattooed so you will not even know that anything is happening.

Have you ever made any error since you started tattooing?

Never. Not even one. As I told you, I learnt from a very experienced person, and I, as well, have been in the business for long. So, there is no room for errors.

I have observed that there is a big difference in the quality of tattoos done in Nigeria and those done in the US. Is it that in Nigeria we don't have the skill or that they have better machines in the US?

It is not an issue of machine. We use the same equipment they use abroad. But I must tell you, that even in the United States, there are many bad tattoo artists. You will see some tattoos in the US and you will know that they are not done well. The same happens everywhere. We also have some of them in Nigeria. The problem usually is about piercing too deep into the skin. Tattoos should be just above the skin, but some people go too deep; that is why you see some tattoos swelling up. The person that does that kind of tattoo probably uses the same type of equipment I use, but just does not know how to apply them.

You have worked with a lot of entertainers. How does it feel working with them?

Surely, when an entertainer or a popular person enters a room, there is always an air of importance around him. That is always there. But his body is just like any other body. Most times, some want more elaborate ones than others want. Like when Terry G came in, we all thought he would want something crazy, but he opted for something simple. Next week, Davido will be coming to do one on his back. We have done for many celebrities, so we are used to them now.

Is it true that tattoos have a language and have meanings?

Tattoo is an expression of one's self. It should in a way reflect the kind of person we are. Before I do a tattoo for anyone, I make sure that I ask what the tattoos they want mean to them. Some do not even have a clue, they just see their friend doing one style and they want it too. So, I have to sit them down and educate them. I try to know the kind of person they are and I suggest the kind of tattoo that would fit them.

Is there a particular style that is the rave of the moment?

Yes. It is called pink lips. We make the lips permanently pink. All you just have to do is to add some special treatments to it every week and it will continue to be pink. Everyone is having one done these days.

So what if they want their lips back in black?

Nature will surely take its course. They only need to stop using the treatment and after a while, the lips will naturally go back to black.

Aside tattoos what do you do?

I am a total beauty consultant. I do piercing and many other beauty treatments; you just need to tell us what you want.

Is piercing not dangerous?

Not really. Personally, I would rather do a tattoo than pierce. If you look at my body, you will see tattoos but not a piercing. It is a matter of choice. If you want it, we will do it for you.

Do you do tattoos on private parts and breasts?

Every day. Some people prefer to keep their tattoos very private, so they put it in their private parts.

When working on a woman's breasts, do you get moved sometimes?

I am a man, so at first it used to be a challenge for me. But I am so used to it now that I don't even think much about it. You will be surprised to know the kind of places people want their tattoos.

You did a commercial for Airtel; that must be big.

It was big. It shows that I am well recognised. I am not the only tattoo maker in Lagos or in Nigeria, but they chose me. It shows that the quality of my work is being appreciated.

That must be a lot of money for you

I don't need to tell you. You will be shocked if I do. So let's leave the subject.

[Daily Independent]

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