From Animator to Graphic Designer to Tattoo Artist - Sunny Bhanushali shares his story!
Like all kids, I loved fantasy superheroes and sci-fi characters when I was a kid. I loved super-man and he-man, always thought that one day I would be the one to save the world :) because that is what I saw on TV.
The cartoon animation series were like fuel to my life. With my progressing age, I had so many more characters on my favorite list. I loved specific powers of specific superheroes and supervillains and always dreamed of having the combination in me :)
I had also started realizing that in the real world, this sci-fi fantasy stuff may not be practical. By the time I was 18, I had realized that I couldn't be more than a Human; however, I can create all the fantasy characters I want to be, through Graphics and Animation.
Because of my poor financial condition, I started learning on my own by downloading torrents of the videos of one of my dream animation schools, Gnomon Workshops. I went flipping out to realize how powerful animation software like 3D Max, Maya, etc. are.
I started spending 16 hours a day learning and practicing through these videos. I started with learning Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Flash, which helped me understand the fundamentals of digital designing and opened doors to the graphic world. I got good at 3D Max on my own; however, I realized that I need guidance, a coach, or an institute, which can help me become a Pro Animator.
Even when my family was in very bad financial shape, my brother helped me get admission to a very well-known animation institute in India. I was enormously overwhelmed to learn this art finally. I couldn't sleep for the next few days out of excitement.
However, with the progressing days, I realized that the animation industry in India is in a hole already, the average pay is way less than industry standards, and the jobs were fewer in the market. The animation industry was struggling hard. But I had a dream; I was (am) visionary. I couldn't finish the entire course because of financial issues; however, I started getting job offers. The most available job in animation was as a rotoscope expert.
THIS JOB SUCKED TO THE CORE with a salary that was unimaginably low — the most monotonous job ever with no creative space or voice. I always wanted to create, but this was the opposite. Still, I persisted, I worked on so many creative projects on my work-offs and presented them to the company seeking a better job profile, but nothing changed. IT SUCKED.
Back then, most of the animation work came from abroad (outside India). The creative work was already done before the job got to India; we were doing just the cleaning work for their projects. All the mundane/boring work is coming to India as the labor is cheap. It's similar to the call centers in India, where US companies build their customer support in India because of the low-cost infrastructure and cheap labor.
As an artist, I only craved recognition for my creative work and sufficient earnings to take care of my life. I don't blame anyone or any company; I realized this is not for someone like me, I loved the dynamic environment, a place that offers the opportunity to learn more, and advance my skills, a place where I will get a space for my creativity. So I decided to stop pursuing Animation entirely and find something that fits my personality.
I went on to work as a graphic designer and visualizer for a few months; I also hopped into the snoozing world of call centers and worked there for five years while freelancing as a graphic designer. I was working beyond my capacity to barely make a living out of it. BPOs/Call centers changed me for the better, they improved my communication skills, my conduct, and my overall personality, however, I was not happy with the work I was doing, nor the earnings I was making. I wanted to make art, be creative and grow as a creator/artist, not as a manager of some MNC.
One day, I stumbled upon the beautiful art of tattooing when I witnessed my friend getting his first tattoo. That one day shook me inside out, it was like I FOUND THE WAY OUT.
While my friend was getting a tattoo, I started daydreaming, I realized that I am an artist, I am a great visualizer, and a charcoal/graphite artist, I am amazingly good at graphics and animation, what if I combine all of them into tattooing. Finally, his tattoo was completed and we were about to leave, making the final payment. I was again awe-struck to see how expensive the tattoo was. Within a few hours of work, the tattoo artist made my one months salary - in just one day - in only a few hours.
I was flipping out to have this whole reality experience I just had. I started talking to myself (all analytical and mystical at the same time). The light in the darkness, like the prayers, has been answered. I can enjoy being an artist, work as per my comfort, make almost 10X to 1000X more than what I have been earning all my life, elevate my lifestyle, restore my family, and so much more.
I knew that I was a very fast learner; it will take no time to learn this divine skill of tattoo art and put it into action. I got my first tattoo kit and started on my own (my skin), then on a few friends, and never stopped till date. I always loved Hindu mythology and so started creating conceptual mythological characters for people who approached me for tattooing. People fell in love with my art and art concepts. In no time, I was known for my tattoos on conceptual Indian Mythological Characters (Gods) like Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma, etc.
I followed my passion, I wanted to be an artist - in the beginning, it was animation later it was graphic design, but I ended up choosing the medium as tattoo art - I became an artist, a tattoo artist.
Each day was a new challenge but it was rewarding at the end of the day. I still worked 12 hours a day, but it never felt like working, it was more like a game. When you love what you do, your work becomes a game. Through the years I built my reputation, my brand, Aliens Tattoo. I built a team of like-minded people, all working towards one vision.
Tattooing gave me a life that was way beyond my imagination, I am famous as an artist in my industry, my work on realism is recognized across the globe, I traveled many countries as an artist, and I won international awards, and recognitions. My articles were published in media and newspapers, and have been a highlight in many top art magazines. I am living my dream!
And all this was possible and open to all those aspiring artists like me. I knew that there were so many people like me, struggling hard to find the right platform or career option, which will help them express their creative strength, get to learn more, advance their skills and also make enough money to have a great lifestyle.
And so, I went on a new mission to build the world's first tattoo school to offer a genuine structured tattoo education system, Aliens Tattoo School. It is the one-of-a-kind tattoo school to offer career-based tattoo courses to all and it is recognized by the Govt. of India as the first start-up in its genre. Today people from all over the world come to Aliens Tattoo School to learn tattoo art. We have served more than 600+ students in the last 3 years and the number keeps increasing every year.
Becoming a tattoo artist is a great career choice, and if you are one like me, I suggest you consider making a career in tattoo art.
That is all about my story :)