THE 5TH EDITION OF HEARTWORK TATTOO FESTIVAL
During the last China Langfang Tattoo Convention I had the pleasure to meet the organizers of the Heartwork Tattoo Festival in India. This year (6 to 8 December 2019), it will mark the 5th edition and I thought it would be a good idea to learn more about the the most thriving tattoo convention of one of the fastest growing markets in the tattoo industry. This is my conversation with the event spokesman Andre’ Tully and the event co-founder Sameer Patange.
Let’s start from the people behind this event: what can you tell us about the organizers of this convention?
Andre’: It is a unique partnership which blends the strengths of 2 of India’s top artists (Sameer Patange and Lokesh Verma), India’s biggest supplier and an intellectual property and strategy expert. Putting our minds together to create an experience to remember for both the artists and audiences.
Having been a part of the tattoo industry for the past 20 odd years, Sameer Patange has always been a visionary of a sort with having involved himself in constant work towards the progress and upliftment of the tattoo industry in India. Which in time made him start the era of tattoo conventions in India, in ways of creating the 1st ever international tattoo convention in India in the year 2011, which was know as Tattoo Republic, which did show great response from the artists and crowds alike, but he still felt that the Indian society was not yet prepared for a convention of that scale.
Which few years down the line made him develop and conceptualize another festival which went on to be known as the Heartwork Tattoo Festival, which became a collaborative effort between him and long time friend Lokesh Verma, and was also joined by the 2 giants of the tattoo supply chain in India. Arvind Garg and Anu Pruthi.
Why did you decide to organize your tattoo convention and what’s your biggest motivation of doing this?
Andre’: India has come a long way. Today’s Indian society is very modern, vibrant and open to exploring newer ideas. The Indian populace is young and interested in knowing more about the tattoo culture, which has been a part of Indian heritage and tradition with some of the best tribal work from the North East India, Rajasthan and Chattisgargh to name a few. Our focus is to put India on the global map and give exposure to the young Indian talent, which is creating some amazing work along with creating greater awareness amongst the audience about the artists and new age products. We also vie to deconstruct myths around so called health issues caused by tattoos and scourge the societal stigma around tattoo culture. It has been our mission to bring global artists together with Indian artists to create an effective platform for knowledge exchange, sharing of ideas and peer learning.
Sameer: I felt the need to start Heartwork as I realised that the Indian crowd and the industry in whole had reached a point of maturity where they understood the value of a large scale tattoo convention which provided the right learning platform for budding artists and tattoo enthusiasts who could learn so much and also have the privilege of getting tattooed by some of the best from around the world. Heartwork in its 5th year has grown and shown the potential internationally to be one of the biggest conventions in Asia. Its shown a lot of support and encouragement from the Indian and internationally tattoo community alike, which is a very positive sign for us in the years to come.
The first edition of the Heartwork Tattoo Festival was held in 2015. This year is going to mark the 5th edition. Which is a pretty solid milestone in this industry. How did your festival evolve in the last 5 years?
Andre’: Our idea was to initially start with bringing the tattoo artists and suppliers together to form a united community (with the motto to co-create and not isolate). In order to support the local artists to build a sustainable work environment specifically and a healthy ecosystem for the sector broadly incorporating the best creative practices and work ethics. We have to a very large extent managed to build this and continue to work towards it. And last but not the least, we focus on developing the audience community which has been steadily growing over the last 5 years.
Since the very first edition your festival has been attended by a lot of very high profile tattoo artists. How did you manage to attract so many good names in the tattoo industry?
Andre’: Right from the beginning, the partners of the Heartwork Tattoo Festival had a strategic vision to build a strong identity for the festival in the international as well as domestic markets. Sameer, Lokesh, Arvind and myself (Andre) got together to make a coordinated effort to reach out to diverse groups of stakeholders, ranging from artists to suppliers to promoters. A lot of ground work has been done including travelling extensively to international festivals and artist studios to spread awareness about our vision and inviting several artists to partake in this vision by participating and supporting our initiative in India. It has become a part of our agenda to build connections with other conventions, promote artist exchanges and broker deals with other promoters and organisers to sustain a network of like-minded people in this industry. We believe it is important for us to support each other to grow and that’s how we will set standards and pave a path towards further evolution. It is an on-going process and each partner is sharing the responsibility to achieve our vision.
India is a relatively new player in the tattoo conventions industry despite it’s enormous population. How is the tattoo conventions industry working out in India?
Andre’: India stands at the brink of tremendous economic progress and this has shaped the minds of the young people to welcome new and bold concepts. This current moment presents a great opportunity for international artists to come to India and establish a solid following as well as convert this following into real business value, as young Indians are far more discerning about this art form and are willing to spend on a good piece of work done by a talented artist.
Do you visit many conventions yourself?
Sameer: Yes, we are working on a plan to hit up the best US and European conventions next year.
What’s the biggest trend you have noticed at tattoo conventions around the world?
Sameer: I see a lot of artists focusing on the Asian markets now. As Asia has huge market potential and growth opportunity, where the audience wants to get inked by talented and known artists. This potential has already started to be exploited by many international artists who have launched their brands in Japan, China and India just to name a few. The format of seminars also helps the local artists to up-skill and enhance their knowledge base to create better work.
How is your convention different than any other?
Andre’: We don’t aim to be different as such, but we work very hard to make Heartwork Tattoo Festival an important convention for everyone globally to participate in, share their knowledge, create business potential for themselves as well as help us grow the industry.
What’s the hardest part of organizing a convention?
Andre’ & Sameer: Money!!!
What’s the most rewarding part of organizing a convention?
Sameer: Seeing multiple bookings coming up for participating artists which keeps them busy throughout the convention and when the audience walk out with contented smile after getting their dream tattoo by their dream artist.
How does your ideal tattoo convention look like?
Andre’: Like the Heartwork Tattoo Festival.
How would you define your convention in one word?
Do you host any seminars at your event?
Sameer: Yes we do. We also plan to host some seminars across the country next year in the lead up to the convention and also help artists across India who cannot make it to the convention to engage with our platform.
Who supported you the most in organizing this event?
Andre’: All our artists and audiences over the years, Bishop, Cheyenne, Dermalize, Intenze, Eternal Ink, Trust Body Modification, Tattoo Gizmo are a few brands along with a few corporate brands like Red Bull, Monster, Coca Cola, Jack and Jones, MTV, VH1, Red FM Radio.
What do you usually do, after your convention will be over?
Andre’: We evaluate the current edition and incorporate the lessons learnt in our plans for the next edition to keep setting higher standards and quality for ourselves.
Anything else you wish you add?
Sameer: We would like to thank each and everyone of our artists and audience who have supported us year on year.
Thank you guys and I’m looking forward to see you in December at your event. World Tattoo Events will be attending the event with ProTeam artist Quang Pham.
For more info: https://www.heartworktattoofestival.com/