My name is Monisha Lakhotia; I'm an American citizen and come through this to tell you
the importance of Tony Vilella's work in my life.
"I like to tell people that I decided to start the tattoo with Tony because I was having a bad
day at work. That’s partially true. I was having a bad day at work the day I sent the email.
The rest of the reason is that: I had been having a particularly rough six months, and I had
just turned 31, and I had this sudden realization that I was still alive. I was 100%
convinced when I was growing up that I would not live past 30, so I put my whole life on
hold for a long time because it seemed pointless to do anything if I was just going to
commit suicide anyway. When I realized I hadn’t successfully done that, I decided, “I’m
not happy, and if I’m stuck here, I am going to do whatever I want to do.” I was going to
live the life I wanted, which prompted the decision to get a tattoo.
Initially, when I was looking for artists, I intended to get a small premade design on one
of my arms as a test. I have many self-injury scars that I was told were keloids. I was
concerned about how a tattoo would heal, considering that. If I got a small piece, I would
see how it healed and keep getting more pieces.
I went through many artists. I spent far too much of my workday searching for the right
style, design, and person.
I found Tony because of an Instagram post on Inkology’s page. Tony won an award at the
Hell City Tattoo Festival, and the piece in the photo was exactly the kind of style I was
looking for. It had horror elements I dug and was super vibrant and stunning. When I went
to Tony’s page and looked at his work, I was like, “This is the person.”
He is talented and creative, and his designs are unique, and I would love whatever he
wanted to create. And then, I found the design on his page. It was this beautiful side tattoo,
all in color from the shoulder blade to the hip. It differed from the placement or size I was
looking for, but I saw it and knew it was the one. Was it an absolutely insane decision for
a first tattoo? Yes. Did I care? No. I also left out that this was my first tattoo when I
emailed. He didn’t find out till the first session.
I remember when I reached out, I explicitly said that we could make the design smaller
or cut it if tattooing over the scars would be a pain. I understand that scars are something
that can be difficult to work with. They are unpredictable; they can be painful, they have
weird textures, they might not hold the ink, whatever. I get it.
Tony did not make it smaller when he met me. After a few appointments, he made it
bigger and asked to extend the design, knowing he would have to tattoo over scars. It was
such a bold move. I was concerned about my scars being challenging to deal with, and
they did not phase him. So, of course, I said yes, and he has since tattooed over many
Not once in the entire process has he made me feel remotely uncomfortable about my
scars. It means the world to me. I don’t get that same courtesy from many strangers. I get
stares, questions, and people obviously whispering about me. I always appreciate it when
I meet someone, and that’s not how they act.
The way he has covered the scars on my leg is incredible. I can’t see them. I know they’re
There, and I can’t find most of them. My friends are stunned that they can’t see them. It
is mind-blowing. I did not think this was possible. I didn’t intend to cover up the scars
because I didn’t think I could. I was going to work around them getting tattooed. But now
I’ve seen what Tony can do. If I trust anyone to do my arms, where the bulk of the scars
are, it’s him. He’s probably stuck with me, and that’s his fault for being talented.
I don’t hate my scars. They made me feel ugly for a long time, and I came to terms with
having them. That being said, if I could eliminate them in some capacity, it would change
my whole life.
This whole experience has been amazing. It’s given me hope. I feel much more confident.
I have gone way out of my comfort zone. I don’t feel like I’m the same person I was when
I started. And Tony has been so chilling through all my nonsense. I can’t thank him
enough for that and everything."