An artist whose specialty is blood portraits

Having started in January this year, Blood Art now has over 40 thousand and growing followers. The business is also officially recognised with an MSME licence.
An artist whose specialty is blood portraits
Blood Art

In a dimly lit room painted in shades of black, there’s a blue metal chair, beside which there is a dust bin with empty syringes. The barrels of these syringes are tinted red, more precisely blood red. As an artist who paints in a very special medium — that of blood, Honest Raj (24), considers this as a part of his everyday life.

“I had no formal training in art nor did I attend any classes. It has always been in my blood,” he chuckles. “I did my undergrad in viscom. In college, I participated and won prizes in art in many college fests and inter-collegiate events. In my second year, our family went through a financial crisis. After college, I would work at the petrol bunk where my father was employed and run errands till late night to support the family,” Raj says.

Talking about his first gifting venture, Gift Santa, he says, “Around the same time, I also started making customised gift articles like cards, pencil sketches, gift boxes and lots more and sold them via Instagram for some extra cash. The portal picked up and started doing really well. With whatever money I made through my art, I used it to pay my college fees. My art sustained our home.”

Wanting to give his brother something very personal and unique, Raj decided to express his love through art made out of his own blood. “In spite of my mom being a nurse, when I first discussed this idea with her, she found it unsettling and told me not to do it. I went ahead and did it anyway. I went to a doctor friend of mine and she helped me with the drawing of the blood and added an anticoagulant to prevent clotting of the blood. I painted a portrait of my brother and I and finished it in eight hours in one sitting.

“I gifted it to my brother and he got very emotional. I posted it on social media and all my followers enquired where I had gotten it from. So I decided to start a separate page to take up custom orders, that’s how my page Blood Art came into existence.”

Having started in January this year, Blood Art now has over 40 thousand and growing followers. The business is also officially recognised with an MSME licence.

Talking about how it all works, he says, “We ask our customers to send in 2 ml of their blood sample in a special tube with an anticoagulant solution mixed to it via post. The reference picture is sent to us and we begin working on it. For a single portrait we ask for 2ml and for a two faced portrait, 3ml is required. We don’t mix any paint or additional colour to the blood. It is all authentic.”

Raj says that even the brushes and palette used during blood painting are different from regular painting equipment. He also says that he tries to retain the natural colour of the blood as much as he can by spraying a special retainer over the painting and matte laminating it at the end. For people who prefer coming in person and giving their blood, the studio has a trained nurse to draw the blood.

On asking why he thinks his business is doing well, he says, “It is because of the message that comes with blood. I have had customers tell me that due to some reason they have not been able to donate their blood to someone close to them and then gifting their loved ones a portrait made out of their blood made up for it. It is very emotional and personal.”

In a profession so offbeat, it is but natural for one to oblige to slightly disturbing orders. Recalling one of his experiences he says, “I once received a call from a pet shop saying they would send the blood sample of a dog in their store and wanted a portrait of the dog. I politely declined because we are very careful while handling blood samples. We wear masks, gloves and take other precautionary measures. I don’t think we are ready for animal blood yet. It also made me uncomfortable.”

“I have big dreams for Blood Art. We are going to launch new products soon and we have received good responses during the test run. Hopefully people will love them too,” he says.

— Done by trained professionals only.

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