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Your eyes are not deceiving you, these mind-melting designs are 100% real. Ilya Cascad is an ornamental tattoo master who specializes in intricate pattern work designed to trick the eye. We had the pleasure of learning how growing up in Russia shaped his career as a tattooer, how he creates his optical illusions and where he’ll be working in 2019.

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How did growing up in Russia shape you as a tattoo artist today? I started my career in Russia and Russia has a lot of talented tattoo artists as well as prestigious international tattoo conventions. I do really like to take a part in tattoo events, because they give me an opportunity to meet famous foreign and Russian tattoo artists to learn about their indispensable experiences. Once I was invited to one of the New York conventions, I began traveling around the world.


How would you describe your tattoo style and have you always specialized in it? Well, I work both in the traditional ornamental style, like a Polynesian, and in the modern one, using geometric patterns, blackwork, dotwork and various graphic designs. That’s why, I would say my style is ornamental, because this concept includes all these things. Like many other tattoo artists, I tried different styles but very soon I found myself in ornamental. Working in the ornamental style, I can create something absolutely unusual by finding interesting shapes, paying attention to body anatomy and breaking visual perception with my crazy optical illusions.


How do you create the effect of an optical illusion in a tattoo? I use different things, starting from a simple pencil and paper to working with different graphic programs or applications—anything that helps me to create something extraordinary and fabulous.


Would you prefer to only work on small or large canvases? I do both small and big projects. If it is a small work, I usually pay a lot of attention to the remarkable details; even a tiny tattoo can be unique. Now I mostly work with huge projects. Creating a full concept takes a lot of effort and time, because it’s essential to verify every detail, how each part will shape the body and integrate it into one full piece.


Which tattoo artists have inspired your work? I know a lot of talented tattoo artists in every country and I’ve followed their careers with great interest. I'm lucky to know some of them personally and become friends. I travel a lot and attend international conventions in different countries, so I’m sure that I will meet more talented artists in the future.


How has traveling the world impacted your career and style? As I said before, traveling gave me the opportunity to meet different people, to share experience and knowledge. I’m very glad to have had such unbelievable opportunities.


Beyond tattooing, what other art mediums do you enjoy working in? I used to play music, but now tattoos take up all of my time. Every day, every available minute, I spend creating new extraordinary designs and tattoos. This is my world and my life.


What WAS the first tattoo you did and how does it differ from the work you create today? It was lettering. I did it for my friend and I was worrying so much. But it came out really cool. I’ve always tried to make high-quality tattoos and was always very responsible with my work. I'm always developing my skills and equipment to make high-quality tattoos within minimal time.


What’s up next for Ilya Cascad and how can our readers get an appointment with you? I’m happy that tattoos give me a chance to travel a lot. But it's quite difficult to spend so much time out of my home and away from my family. My daughter is five now and she's getting old enough to travel with me. Being a good tattoo artist means developing and never stopping. Nowadays I'm constantly attending Russian, European and US tattoo conventions and I would like to visit Canada and South America in the future. I post my travel schedule on my social media pages and if you have any questions, you can always ask them on Instagram or Facebook.