The Sexiest Russian Tattooed Girl


The Sexiest Russian Tattooed Girl

With the Winter Olympics coming to a close in Sochi, we look back, extremely fondly, on the sexiest Russian doll Ira Chernova. She was our Inked Girl for our 2012 Art Issue and still leaves us spellbound.

We’ve never made someone an Inked Girl twice.

And we wouldn’t have if there weren’t something about Ira Chernova. When we first shot the minx from Moscow in 2010, she was in a transitional phase. She planned to move from Russia to Amsterdam, all the while shooting photos with intriguing narratives. Feeling foreign on the opposite end of the camera, she was coy and quiet but had a stare that spoke volumes. Since that first shoot, she’s lived in Amsterdam, relocated to Brooklyn, and established herself as an exceptional photographer (Elijah Wood has even graced her lens). That’s what makes this Inked Girl so special—she captures a perfect moment that without her camera would otherwise be lost.

“I like living in the present, not thinking about past or future,” she says. So she immortalizes an emotion in a minute, and for that instant there is nothing else but her subject and the shutter. The result is an emotionally charged photograph with a gaze that mirrors her own when she models. To say that Ira should be taken at face value seems unfair, though—and it would be, if the Russian-born photographer weren’t such a realist.

“Everybody sees what they want to see,” she explains, which is why she has taken a liking to film photography, specifically portraiture. She’s drawn to capturing people because “they move, they are all different and have some story behind them,” she says. Perhaps Ira’s need to reveal the raw reality of her subject stems from growing up in a society of facades she never felt a part of: “I knew I didn’t belong, so I just kept trying to get out of there,” she says.

And like her desire to freeze time before the camera, each of her tattoos is a tangible ode to a moment. “Many of them were collected when I was on the road; sleepless nights and awesome memories of travels,” she recounts. “The most recent one is from a Friday the 13th deal. It was funny—I was flying back to NYC that same day, totally lost in space, and by the time I made it to Brooklyn, my friend had texted me saying, ‘I’m working at Dare- devil today, get over here to get your Friday the 13th ink.’ I figured, okay, nice deal.”

But as the blank space on her skin slowly dwindles, she’s noticed a change in her attitude toward future ink. “The less free skin I have left, the more analytical I’m getting about tattoos,” she admits. And that’s a fine way to see it, especially since the hellcat plans to exist forever in her 20s—because she enjoys living in the now. The keen photographer may find herself in perpetual transition—but that’s okay. Because for Ira Chernova, “[There’s] only one life, so better live it like you want to. It’s full speed or nothing.” Here’s her present captured now.




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