You come from Ukraine, but for some time you have worked in Poland. What influenced your decision to come to this country?
I worked in Ukraine, but I always dreamed of going to tattoo conventions in Europe. Somewhere on the Internet, I found information about the conventions in Poland, more precisely in Wrocław. I remember how terrified I was when I finally got there. There was so much happening and it was so fast. So many cool artists, friendly people, and this atmosphere that was really amazing! It did not take me a long time to start thinking about moving here.
Everyone has to start somewhere in the beginning. You certainly remember your introduction to this very well. When you look back on it, what was the most difficult part of this process, how did you come to the idea of working in this craft?
With a pen, I drew tribal designs on my friends’ hands! They said to me, “this is great, you will be a great tattoo artist”- ha! However, my first tattoos my beginnings were not easy, like many tattooists,: a chair, a Chinese machine, 30ml bottle of ink and friends who were ready to wear rough tattoos.
My mentor in the art of tattooing has always been Tymur Denysenko. I thank him for his help and I am always happy to remember the time when we worked together. It was a great time!
You currently have your own, amazing and original style, but I guess it did not appear to you right away. What did this process look like, where did you get the ideas like this and where did you find your inspirations? How did you experiment?
I love to experiment, I always prefer to do something original and fresh, thanks to this I discovered new techniques and possibilities.
The double exposure style appeared accidentally. One of my clients wanted me to make her a beautiful, colourful worm. I prepared the outline, and inside I put a rose. Ultimately, we did not use this project, but I liked the double exposure technique very much and decided to develop it in my works.
It seems that your style is, as you already mentioned, very often based on a double exposure, combining animal and floral motifs. They go above and beyond delicate, feminine tastes. It turns out that in this way you can tattoo almost everything like this, and you find the darker work in among it.
I really like doing darker designs – and I would like more of these projects – but I like flowers too. If I’m doing a lot of floral tattoos, I draw something dark for a sense of balance.
Looking through your gallery of works, it is impossible not to notice that you are a very skilled graphic designer, is this how all your projects are created? Are illustrations and digital graphics works your next passion, or rather a tool used to utilise as a tattoo artist?
I create illustrations for myself to develop as an artist. In this area, I have much more freedom. Tattooing brings certain limitations and not every graphic idea can be translated onto the skin. I recently worked on a great project, with a very well-known person from the USA. Joey Graceffa wrote to me asking me to create a book cover design for him.
It was very nice that my graphics interested him, it was a great challenge and it gave me a lot of satisfaction. Soon these illustrations will appear on my profile.
That’s a huge honour, congratulations! We can’t wait to see them! How does your relationship with your clients work? Do they normally come to you with the design they want or are they interested in your ideas and designs? I only ask because it appears many projects have been brought to you which you then create on the skin.
I think that every person has something cool in their head. When the customer’s idea amazes me, I immediately save it and turn it into a new project. Everyone knows that it is easier for an artist to draw something according to his own taste, but the clients are really the most important – I create for them and give thanks to them for the opportunity.
You are a co-founder of Wroclaw’s Underdog studio, a studio signed with your very own name. It’s a massive undertaking and certainly a very significant step in your career. Therefore, I suppose that Poland is not a temporary home for you, rather you plan to stay involved here for longer, if not permanently?
I feel very good in Poland, for now, I plan to stay here, support the development of the tattoo culture here, and promote my art. One of my dreams was to open my own place. I wanted to create something more than just a tattoo studio – a place where art will develop. In my opinion, a tattoo artist must be an artist, draw pictures, illustrations, and sculpt – in a word, CREATE. The fact that it will be a Tattoo Gallery means that you will not only be able to create a tattoo with us, but also see and feel the art on your own skin and on the walls! My ideas rang true with my friends from Warsaw, with whom I worked since I moved to Poland.
This is our joint project, keep your fingers crossed for us and come to Underdog!
This interview for Tattoo Fan Magazine was conducted by Maria Śmigiel
All images used courtesy of Andrey Lukovnikov