He wears a yellow mask. “It’s my lucky charm,” smiles tattoo artist Antony Philip as he gets down to tattooing a peacock on my arm.
He chooses blue, then a dash of orange and a mix of green and yellow for the plumage. Bright maroons complete the picture. A sprinkling of glitter gives it a final touch. A perfect peacock grows on my forearm in less than a minute. “I experiment with yellows, greens, pinks and oranges to make the tattoos look bold and beautiful,” he says and quickly paints an orange flower on his arm to show me. He uses fabric colours to make the temporary tattoos.
Dragons are his speciality. An evil black dragon spitting orange fire glitters from his forearm. “Peacock, butterflies, Spiderman, cartoon characters like Dora, Bujji, and Mickey Mouse … anything that catches a child’s fancy is made as tattoos. Chotta Bheem is a big hit among children, while the elders like to have a wild flower or a butterfly, says Antony.
He has completed over 2,000 tattooing events in the city. Along with P. Vivekanandhan, another artist, he has also done events in Salem, Trichy, Sivakasi and Kanyakumari.
“A lot of corporate groups call us for a 30-minute show and we end up doing tattoos for more than two hours. In three hours, I make about 800 tattoos. We made tattoos for children during the super singer auditions of Vijay TV conducted in Coimbatore and Trichy.”
An artist for over 12 years, Antony Philip specialises in fine arts that ranges from oil and acrylic, and Madhubani paintings, to Lamasa work made from mixing ceramic, dental powder, zinc oxide and Fevicol. He featured in Jaya TV’s talent show and wowed the audience with his on-the-spot portrait of an abstract landscape in 2.5 seconds. “I used my fingers and mixed the fabric colours,” he explains as we watch the video of the event.
Experiments with colours
Antony enjoys nail art, body and face painting too. “I experiment with any creative work that involves a play of colours,” he says. During the Semmozhi Maanadu celebrations, Antony Philip and his team recreated the Kurunji, Mullai, Neithal and Paalai landscapes in enamel on the compound walls of VOC Park.
They also painted historic episodes such as Mullaikku Thaer Kodutha Paari, Manuneedhi Cholan’s act of justice, Kannagi’s silambu erithal at the Pandya King’s fort from Silpadhigaaram, and more.
Any art form is uplifting, he says. “A creative mind and regular practice is important to become successful,” he says. “It was my drawing master Padmanathan, who initiated me into the world of art,” he recalls.
As an artist one needs to observe life. “A number of on-the-spot paintings are a part of Nature study. I also read comic books and make it a point to watch cartoon shows to get familiar with the images while tattooing.”
About the mystery behind the half-face mask, he smiles and says: “Rey Mysterio, my favourite WWF champ, wears a mask. It’s a speciality among Goan artists to wear masks while doing creative work. I take inspiration from them. I feel like Spiderman when I wear it. It gives me the energy to go on for hours, especially in events at shopping malls, star hotels and corporate events.”
Antony is currently also researching cave paintings in Tamil Nadu.
“There are about 40 sites in Tamil Nadu, and in Coimbatore alone there are more than four sites. I visited the caves in Narasimhapuram near Thondamuthur and had a glimpse of the historic 4,000 years old paintings of dancing girls, cow boys…”
Antony runs Raytrace Academy that conducts art classes for children. It also manages events and multi media projects. He has also started ‘Art at Heart’, an institute in Sundarapuram that promotes art on the lines of the MAD concept popularised by Pogo.
To know more, call: 99528-50809
The artist behind the mask Antony Philip Photos: S. Siva Saravanan