Mohamed Tirana, 25, was born blind in his right eye but that didn’t stop him from becoming the professional tattoo artist that he is today.
Tirana has been completely blind in his right eye since birth due to an incurable congenital infection known as Coat’s Disease. The infection fully damaged the optic nerve in his right eye.
Some may be wondering if this affects his designs but fortunately, it doesn’t.
“Honestly, there hasn’t been any issues since I am so used to it. Having just one eye makes me focus better and see further than most people do.”
“I can prove that in a shooting range if needed,” he laughs.
“I can ride BMX, skateboard, and I’ve even gotten my motorbike license. I am now pursuing my Class Three motorcar license as well,” he elaborates.
Tirana is also transparent about his infection on social media platforms like Instagram.
“Me being blind in my right eye didn’t stop me from pursuing my goals, my education, my license and all that. I push through the challenges that people and God impose on me, and I set out to achieve, nonetheless.”
Learning How to Tattoo
Tirana’s foray into the world of tattoos started through YouTube videos and Ink Master shows on television. He then proceed to try his hand at tattooing by using tattoo kits that were purchased online on his friends, himself, and even an orange.
His first big break came when he got scouted to be an apprentice for Magnifico Studio.
“There, I went through the old-fashioned apprenticeship and learned everything I needed to know about tattooing. Currently, I’m at Beyond Illusion, where I ‘sharpen the blade’ so as to speak.”
Beyond Illusion is a tattoo studio located at the first floor of Singapore’s Golden Landmark Shopping Centre.
A Variety of Designs
Ranging from monochromatic to vibrantly coloured tattoos, Tirana has no limitations to what he can achieve when his fingers are wrapped around the tattoo machine.
“There are actually differences in colours due to their pigments and base solvent. Some colours pack into the skin much easier than others, and some pack brighter than others.”
“We have to experiment and see what works best on our client’s skin and also our technique.”
His forte includes neo-traditional, black and grey, scriptures and minimalism tattoo designs.
“Most of the time, clients will usually have their own ideas or references and I do my best to interpret and deliver their designs in my own way.”
Surprisingly, Tirana reveals that he did not study art prior to tattooing.
“I did not take art subject in school, nor would I excel in the conventional norms of graded arts in school,” he laughs.
In fact, being a tattoo artist wasn’t the first option that came to mind.
“I actually wanted to be a Doctor or an Officer in any Force. But sadly, due to my blind eye, I could not pass the medical reviews or examinations,” he says.
“Becoming a tattoo artist was the next best thing — in a way, I am an unorthodox cosmetic surgeon!”
Meaning of His Tattoos
Tirana has many tattoos, and has even tattooed himself: “I think it is a part and parcel of learning how to tattoo.”
When asked if there’s any tattoo that stands out more than the rest, he explains, “most of my tattoos have a dear meaning to me, so I don’t have a specific favourite.”
The same goes for his clients who usually opt for tattoos that mean something to them.
“It could be a date to remember a lost loved one, or something that represents my clients’ experience or struggle,” he says.
“The tattoo gives them strength mentally or provides closure. It is food for the soul.”
Although he is capable of designing any surface area, he deems the ribs, stomach, and sternums as the most difficult to work on.
“It is hard to get the proper stretch on those areas and get the ink in smoothly. Most of the time, the client can rarely sit down quietly on those areas because it is painful,” he explains.
The longest time that he took to complete a design was one that involved a scripts done across a client’s stomach.
“It had five to six sentences and he wanted some nice and clean old English letterings. That took around four to five hours to complete because he could not sit still and could not bear the pain.”
Tattooing in Singapore
For Tirana, he believes that working as a tattoo artist in Singapore is tough, yet has some element of freedom.
“Being able to do what you love, and love what you do is definitely great. Being able to set what day and time you want to work is freedom.”
However, the financial aspect of tattooing as a career is where it gets tough. “It is tough to get the ball rolling and even though you do get the ball rolling, it can stop at any time.”
Even so, the one word that comes to mind when asked about life as a tattoo artist in Singapore is ‘fun’.
He credits his role models for motivating him to go on further.
“I think having a role model to look up to is essential. I know of local tattoo artists who drive Nissan GTRs, Lamborghinis, own a nice house and have a great future ahead.”
“These guys made it. They made it possible for others to dream and achieve, so that is why I am still pushing ahead. I cannot give up yet.”
Planning for the Future
Currently, Tirana works on tattoos solely by appointments. He usually takes up to around four to six clients each week.
He also shared plans of expanding the tattoo studio.
“I think the future plan would be to afford a bigger space to accommodate more artists in the studio”, he says.
He is also aiming to be more skilled enough to participate in conventions and competitions.
To get more updates, follow Tirana on Instagram.