A Body Art Genius & A Gentleman
On a typical Sunday morning you are bound to notice a good looking middle-aged guy carefully ushering his wife and kids into the middle row pews of the local Catholic Church or you may catch him gently guiding his nephews and other little ones to school on a cold Bangalore morning. It won’t be unusual to bump into him picking up groceries in the nearby market or meet him as he has coffee with a local medical director of a popular specialty hospital. There is nothing unusual about this regular dad and husband except that he is the entrepreneur in one of the most misunderstood professions in the world – at least among the creative arts. Meet Russell VanBuerle, a Bangalore boy and principal artist of a small, cozy and yet trusted and admired Body and Skin Art studio, “Russell VanBuerle Tattoo”!
Russell is not a recently converted artist who picked up a tattoo machine to be cool! Gifted with a unique imagination, a flair for colours and a creative soul, he dabbled with oil on canvas during his teens, experimented with fabric art & apparel design in his early career and took a full time job as a professional entertainment lighting engineer in the late nineties.
However, during an extend vacation from his professional assignment in the Middle East in early 2001, Russell toyed with skin art using an improvised home-made tattoo machine and family and friends as practice canvas. Soon his artistic mind and steady hand spurred him on to take on the “vacation hobby” as a full time profession.
Russell had a humble beginning and whether it was making and selling hand painted Christmas cards or creating fairylike settings at weddings with his imaginative decorations, he always created a visual treat with his talent. However his offbeat style, vivid imagination and desire to be unique were waiting to be harnessed into something more special and long lasting. Fast-forward fifteen years and he is one of the most experienced and seasoned artists in the business, with over 5000 tattoos crafted and a large fan following across India and abroad, he stands at the forefront of this modern art-form in the country and definitely in the cosmopolitan city of Bangalore.
In an article published a few years ago the author quoted “If the Pope wanted to get a Tattoo, he would choose Russell to do it for him” – this jest actually captures Russell’s personality very appropriately. With never a breadth of alcohol on his lips when he is at work (he does grab a beer at the end of the day), no sign of drug abuse, ability to present his talent as a profession and not a hobby and a clean and hygienic yet cozy studio, He has been able to break down the stereotypes of Tatoo artists, Tattoos and all lovers of the dark art!
Russell’s clients include folks from every walk of life and are a reflection of him as an artist. He has worked with Plastic Surgeons at city hospitals to use body ink to camouflage the pain and difficult memories of breast cancer survivors while at the same time he has immortalized pets and patriotic contributions on our borders for some of his patrons, he has created memories of lost loved ones and the joys of new births and brought smiles on grandparents as they plunged and gave into the taboo of getting “inked”. His clients include cricketers such as Murali Vijay, Manish Pandey, Shaurav Tiwary and Vinay Kumar as well as the current captain of the Indian Hockey team, SV Sunil and other players of the national and state team, local actors such as Jaggesh, Raghu Mukerjee and Anu Prabhakar as well as several local and national celebrities are also among his raving fans.
Russell is a master craftsman & genius artist but what really sets him apart is his is ability to visualize designs and colors even before they come alive on skin. His cover-up jobs are legendary and portraits probably the best on this side of the globe. If that was not enough, his congenial personality and endearing nature make him a dream artist to work with as one goes about using ink to define themselves – A true Body Art Genius & a Gentleman!