Artists: Ivana Belakova
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What year did you start tattooing?
I am not sure what year exactly, but I think it was around 2001.
How did you get into tattooing?
I’ve liked all kinds of art since I was a kid. I drew a lot. When I was around 13, I used to cut out pictures from magazines and had my brother draw on me with marker so I looked like the models from these magazines. Just after I finished my studies, my friend offered me a job in her new shop. I had no idea how to tattoo, so I tried them on my friends and after the first one, I was hooked! I pretty much decided that tattooing was going to be my job that very day. That’s all I wanted to do tomorrow, the day after, for weeks, and then years. What drove me the most was definitely my passion for the arts! I thought tattoos were sexy, and I saw the beauty in it.
Where did you apprentice?
I taught myself. I was practicing on my friends and slowly I was figuring things out. I guess I would be much better by now if I had someone to teach me.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards?
I have been tattooing very little at the conventions, as I don’t like it that much. I was attending conventions in New Zealand, Australia, England, Prague. I won some awards, mostly for best color.
How do you describe your style?
My style is color realism. I love color—it’s more fun, and also aesthetically, I prefer it much better! I like to mix realism and fantasy together. I like it when my tattoos look like artwork and not like stickers! It has to have a nice flow, be proportionate to the body, and be different, I guess. I want my tattoos to look different. Individual. Just like my customers are! I don’t want to be just an ordinary tattooist who does flash all the time and copy other people’s artwork.
What inspires you as an artist?
My passion for life! I like new things, new experiences. There’s constantly something going on in my life!
What sets you apart from other artists?
I guess it’s my recognizable style.
What other mediums do you work in?
At the moment I am doing only tattoos, and I draw. I definitely want to start to paint in the future!
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Jeff Gogue and Volko. I also admire many Eastern European artists—Russians, Polish. Their work is great!
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
To be honest, I am looking forward to doing every tattoo that I’ll ever do. I am choosing my work, and my clients give me creative freedom too, which makes it very enjoyable for me!
Is there anyone that you would like to tattoo?
My mum. She doesn’t like tattoos and I want to show her how beautiful this experience can be.
Before someone gets a tattoo, what advice do you give them?
Make sure this is really what you would like to have on your body. Try to imagine it, including placement and size. Take your time when it comes to design, and choose the artist carefully.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
I would like to do some collaboration with my favorite artists! In general I would like to do bigger pieces too.