When I wake up, Iâ€™m tired. Not surprising, as Iâ€™m in the studio till past midnight most nights. When I get up around 8:30 in the morning, I play with Yuko and Jyoti for a while, and watch the news on TV. After showering I pray and have breakfast. Weâ€™re all vegetarians in our household.
It takes 20 minutes to get to the studio in Legian from my house in Tuban. When I get there, Kadek, one of the staff, is already at work, cleaning up the place.
First thing I do in the morning is boot up the computer and play some of my favorite songs. Then itâ€™s time to help Kadek prepare the execution room â€“ our name for the tattoo area. Kadek goes off and buys new materials, like needles, oils and creams, while I work on my designs. I have a chat with the tattoo artists, Ketut and Arty, and we talk about designs and pricing. In the past we used to do large tattoos for a low price; not any more.
I opened Lucky Brothers five months ago. We named it that because we think a man who wants to have a tattoo is a brave man, and therefore he must be lucky if he is brave. Also, a man with a tattoo has something in common with other man who are tattooed â€“ a kind of respect and understanding.
Here, naturally, weâ€™re as clean and hygienic as possible, and we only use sterile needles. Between them the artists have 20 yearsâ€™ experience: Ketut, 12, and Kadek, whoâ€™s also a talented painter, eight. Our machines and ink are all imported from either the United States or Europe.
For me, a tattoo is a kind of fashion statement, as is piercing. Our piercing artist, Ketut Darma, has a decade of experience, and does all sorts of piercing. The trend these days is having a big hole in the ear, which is done with a needle and piece of wood. Our customers, most of whom are Western, also like piercing their nipples, tongue, corner of the eye and genitals â€“ if the latter, the price is twice the normal rate.
With tattoos, most of the time the price depends on the size and design of the piece. A small one may be Rp100,000 (US$10.98) and can go up to Rp800,000 for a dragon tattoo, for example. Tribal designs are popular, especially with the Japanese, as are Bali and skull designs.
Around 1pm I break for lunch. Usually one of the guys gets something from a warung (foodstall) nearby â€“ for me itâ€™s nearly always just rice and vegetables. Afterwards I take a rest for a while and listen to some music and chat with the staff. While weâ€™re waiting for customers, we often watch DVDs.
Sometimes people come in and ask for tattoos that I just know donâ€™t suit them, in terms of their character. If they got them, later on theyâ€™d be unhappy with the tattoo and would want to get rid of it. So I talk to them for a while and see what theyâ€™re like â€“ and what they like â€“ and we work out something that suits their character. I also have to make them comfortable so theyâ€™re not afraid by time they get to the execution room.
I go home around 6pm and have dinner with the family. Maya will have my favorite, corn soup, ready. Then we sit around for a while and chat and play with the kids and later in the evening I head back to the studio again, where I can often be until one in the morning, waiting for customersâ€™ tattoos to be finished.
At night I browse the internet and find new tattoo designs, and often people will come into the studio just to ask what I think of their tattoos.
When I get home in the early hours, I pray and watch TV before falling asleep, jaded.