Artists: Yanina Viland
Saint Petersburg, Russia
What year did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing in 2008. At the time I was living in the Ukraine, designing and constructing clubs and organizing concerts. Tattooing was a hobby, something I did in spare time. In 2011 I moved to St. Petersburg where my work was in demand, so I then completely devoted myself to tattooing.
How did you get into tattooing?
I have an art education and an interest in the human body as an object of art. I was interested in medicine, but it was looking for aesthetic expression. Since the beginning I’ve been interested in tattoos as a process. In those years, when I made the first steps in the tattooing CIS countries has been accustomed only to the traditional tattoo, my work looked with amazement and often frowned upon, and this caused even more desire to develop in my own direction.
Did you have a formal apprenticeship?
No, I have a classical art education with an emphasis in architectural design. I studied tattooing on my own, mostly communicating on the internet with colleagues from different countries. There were very few tattoo artists in my town and they weren’t going to take a young girl deciding to learn the profession seriously.
You travel a lot, how does traveling influence your tattooing?
Oh yes, traveling is my passion and being a tattooist is helpful. In every country I find colleagues whose work I admire. As in any country, I can stay for a while and work. This is a great opportunity to share experiences, because we are all people with a different mentality, a different education and different view of the world. Therefore, even making a tattoo in a similar style, we see and feel them differently.
Do you see yourself as a therapeutic outlet for your clients?
Most of my work is improvised. People often come from other cities and countries and we connect on a personal level, talking, drinking coffee, and only then do I begin to create. I will often spend an entire day with a client, so in a way I guess it could quite possibly be considered a form of therapy.
Ten years ago, did you imagine you would become a tattoo artist?
Ten years ago, I studied art and had not really given much thought about what direction I wanted to move in my life. I started working as a master of piercing about nine years ago, which is what put me on the road to becoming a tattoo artist. Eight years ago I began wanting to tattoo, and a little more than seven years ago I picked up a tattoo machine for the first time.
Your social media is packed with ink, what has Instagram done for your career as an artist?
Instagram, in my opinion, is now one of the most convenient and simple networks to allow you a platform in which your audience can interact personally and allows you to receive only the information that you choose as important to you. Because of this, it is very convenient for artists and photographers to get the attention they deserve. Another plus is that everyone can keep track of my portfolio in real-time. This significantly expands the audience, which is always useful for growing as an artist and individual.
Your tattoos are often mash ups of heavy line work and watercolor, what made you start mixing styles?
I do not think it’s a mixing of styles, but more a mixing of elements that complement the others in a harmonious way. When I was a student, often we would draw architecture and crisp lines. This has remained in the style of my work to this day. My tattoo work is continually gaining popularity, but I continue to use my watercolor background and love for a canvas to compliment the other side of me, which is tattooing.
Are there any styles you are hesitant to tattoo?
No, not really. One thing I’ve noticed is that I rarely work with small tattoos. Most of my clients are seeking something more substantial. I’ve never tried to work with realism on the skin, although my work on canvas seems to be hyper-realistic. Black and gray work is fulfilling, but not my favorite. I like clean lines, contrast and expressive color. The rest is always open for experiment. I love when a client allows me freedom to flow naturally and implement whatever comes out.
What other mediums do you work in?
In addition to tattooing, oil painting is a huge passion and influence of mine.