A swelling serpentine queue stretches around Paul Booth’s tattoo booth at the first edition of Heartwork Tattoo Festival at Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium, Delhi, as visitors try to catch a glimpse of the tattooist inking dark flames on the arms of his customer. Eighty-six tattoo artists from across the globe are present at the venue but Booth, who has a popular tag “King of Rock Tattoos”, is among the biggest crowdpullers. His hands have created the twisted imagery across the bodies of some of metal music’s biggest names, including Lamb of God, Slayer and Slipknot as well as WWE’s The Undertaker.
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Always intrigued by “darkness”, the 48-year-old tattooist from New York has embraced his art to find light and it comes as no surprise to spot demons and monsters in his body of work. “I do creepy stuff. I ink monsters, demons and the dark side,” he says.
His inspiration mostly comes from old horror movies that he continues to diligently watch till date. On other days, the world around him and newspapers articles and news shows help him get ideas.
A master of tattooing, with over 20 years of experience, Booth is famous for his depiction of the macabre and the grotesque in art. On his first visit to the country, Booth hopes to learn more about demons in Indian mythology. “One of the reasons why I am here is to learn about the demons here, right from the source,” he says, as he begins talking about Ravan.
Booth was originally a repo man, who got his adrenaline rush from stealing cars that often served as inspiration for his art. On other days, he worked as an air brush artist who sprayed twisted imagery on cars and motorcycles. It was only after he got the name of his daughter inked on his body that he became inclined towards learning the art of tattooing.
“I never imagined myself as a tattoo artist. I was only interested in getting to know more about it. And look where I have come today,” he says. The tattooist has perhaps vowed to stay true loyal to the “dark side” as his studio, Last Rites, in the Big Apple also features an art gallery for dark art and macabre artefacts, and a home theatre for horror movies.