Artists: Ivana Belakova
What year did you start tattooing?
How did you get into tattooing?
My friend offered me a job in her new shop that she was planning to open up. I had no idea what I wanted to do for work so I decided to go for it. I didn’t know how to tattoo so I started to practice at home on my brother, then eventually other family and friends. After the first piece I did, I was hooked! It was definitely “love at first sight,” and I love it more every day. I am very grateful!
What brought you to work at Outer Limits Tattoo?
I met Kari Barba, the shop owner, many years ago at a tattoo convention in London. Later on, I did a guest spot in her shop and we had an amazing connection right away. Above all of this, I liked her shop. It naturally came that now, after a few years, I would end up happily working side by side with Kari. There are no politics in our shop; every artist is special and brings something different to the table. We all get along great, and a positive work environment is very important to me.
What conventions have you done recently or are planning to do this year?
Recently I just attended TattooLaPalooza in Miami. I am going to attend Le Mondial du Tatouage in Paris, Tattoo Ink Explosion in Germany, and the International London Tattoo Convention. I am sure I will be working at a few more; so far I have confirmed the ones above.
How would you describe your tattoo style?
I would say that I do funky color. I enjoy doing “modern,” funky-looking designs, a marriage of street art and graphic art with a peppering of realism at the same time. My main focus is to be able to get into my client’s mind and try to connect with their feeling. My tattoos are fusion. It’s my client’s energy and my expression of something.
What drew you to work with such bold, bright colors?
It was a natural process for me. For many years I did only black-and-gray tattoos, but later on I started to be attracted to color more and more. I tried it a few times and I noticed I had more fun with it. I liked the fact I could kind of play! I liked to blend colors together and create all different effects. To be very honest, I enjoy doing both, whether it’s full-blown color or a black-and-gray tattoo. The most important thing to me is the actual idea or concept.
What inspires you as an artist?
I am inspired by nature, by what would be considered ordinary or everyday things around me—fashion, literature, music, and just about everything that I am surrounded with.
What other mediums do you work in?
I draw, and I enjoy photography very much. Those are definitely additional creative outlets for me.
You recently released the book Narcissistic Rockstar. What was the mindset behind the book?
It’s all about me! About a year ago, I published Narcissistic Rockstar. It’s a 120-page, full-color volume loaded with over 100 photos of my tattoos and illustrations, and some personal writings. The book is basically a summary of my work, thoughts, and lifestyle. I put a lot of myself in the book and I hope people who do not follow my work will also enjoy it.
What kind of tattoos do you most look forward to doing?
I really enjoy doing original designs in which I have plenty of freedom, no boundaries, and no rules or restrictions, and can do whatever I please. I also enjoy doing nature-inspired pieces, like animals or flowers for sure. Most recently, I’ve loved doing abstract, watercolor-type tattoos.
Is there a particular tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
Huge, heavy blackwork! Not necessarily any design in particular, but I would love to do a collaboration with other artists. It’s not about what we create but the magic in the collaboration itself.