What he imagines is a wonder and what he draws in ink is a marvel. Mykel Kumar is an artist who can create any design with his tattoo-gun. When you look at the tattoo on your body every day, and are held spellbound; when the beauty of the clean lines and burst of colours reinforce the deep connection you have to this work of body art, you know you’ve gone to the right tattoo artist. There are several such satisfied clients who praise Mykel’s work on their skin, and many more who can’t wait to be inked by him.
Most tattoos have a story behind them, for Mykel, his tattoo shop – ‘The Pumpkin Patch’, his other big ‘tattoo’ also has one. The story of Pumpkin Patch is simple and straight forward. A young man chooses to pursue his passion, and does better than most. But disgruntled by his success his bosses give him a hard time. He leaves and sets up his own shop. He showcases his phenomenal tattooing skills, and receives much praise and adulation, inking happily ever after.
When I took it up as a full time career it then evolved into a serious commitment to the art form and I gravitated towards the idea that this is permanent”
But such a simple tale hardly does anything to make him stand apart from other tattoo artists. So what is that ‘it’ factor about Mykel (other than his unique imagination)? The answer: his drive to not let his art slip away.
Mykel got his first tattoo at 18, and then one tattoo followed another, getting him hooked to the tattoo gun. With a free flowing imagination that knew no bounds, he continued to sketch and paint on paper. At the age of 21, Mykel started out as a part-time tattoo artist on weekends, working on friends who provided their enthused selves as canvases. When you become completely immersed in what you’re doing, you come to realise that this may just be your calling. Mykel felt just that, he says, “When I took it up as a full time career it then evolved into a serious commitment to the art form and I gravitated towards the idea that this is permanent” He believes that such an art-form should be revered and practiced with respect, for tattoos are permanent testaments to an idea, thought or bond. The thought of something being everlasting gives him great thrill when working under pressure.
With the support of his parents Mykel started out, and did not pay any heed to ‘advice’ that told him to give something else a try. Along with the constant flow of this free ‘advice’ and the pressure of starting from scratch, was the challenge of being an entrepreneur in a field that is very misunderstood. He says, “It really takes constant filtering out of voices of people that haven’t made their dreams work, that didn’t strive to achieve, the naysayers and the close minded that try to make you second guess your choices.” It all really comes down to how much you want to listen to what other people say versus what you think you should do. If you’ve got that down, the rest is doable.
Mykel’s work though is not as easy as the word ‘doable’ suggests. His has gained lots of clients who favour him over others because of his imagination and ideas for a concept, and the manner in which he engages with them. But, with a growing network of fellow artists in the tattoo industry, including those with more experience, how does such a young entrepreneur keep up? To which Mykel jovially says, “While you are ‘competing’ with each other, you’re also happy when they do really good pieces of work. Because for me my first priority is that a tattoo should be a good piece of art and not just some random mess.”
He believes that being artists in a field that is so misjudged, it is much more fun to get together and brainstorm. Through his experience though, Mykel has learned that many artists may not believe in the ‘One for all, all for one’ concept, and, so, he says to young pursuers, “Don’t get involved with the industry’s politics. Stay focused on your art and your tattoos. Do what you have to do and everything else that comes from it is secondary.”
Don’t get involved with the industry’s politics. Stay focused on your art and your tattoos. Do what you have to do and everything else that comes from it is secondary.”
Getting the opportunity to tattoo Alicia Beth Moore, a.k.a, Pink would be an unforgettable moment for this genius artist. With a hopeful smile he says, “She’s the only celebrity I would really like to tattoo mainly because I would love to listen to her stories.” Mykel Kumar a man with many stories and a whole lot of imagination, with the skill to draw a tattoo to perfection, shows you what happiness can look like if you follow your ‘(he)art’.
Mykel Kumar has inked his permanency in the tattoo business out of sheer will to believe in his own capability, and the willingness to take a chance on himself. One step into a tattoo parlour was all it took him for him to make up his mind to follow his dreams. Have you taken that first exciting step yet?