In the wake of collapsing empires, greatness is often created. At least, that’s the case when it comes to Vitaly Morozov. Born in Moscow during the fall of the USSR, Morozov was far from paradise, but he was able to turn his love for art into a flourishing tattoo career that’s taken him around the world. We sat down, virtually of course, with this Russian tattoo maestro to learn what it was like growing up in Moscow during the 1990s, what led him to his current signature style, and why he’s honed in on his vivid yet limited color palettes.
How did growing up in Moscow shape you?
I was born in 1989; those times were hard for Russia. The USSR collapsed, there was an economic crisis in the country, poverty and crime. It was a depressive atmosphere, although, as a child, I perceived it as the norm. I didn't have much entertainment and I entertained myself by drawing. I was inspired by some American cartoons that were shown on Russian TV such as “The Real Ghostbusters” and “Biker Mice from Mars.” I really loved these cartoons and constantly tried to draw something similar. Then my parents bought a VHS recorder and a few movies, including “Aliens” and “Predator.” I watched these films at the age of six and they made an indelible impression on me and gave me a charge of inspiration for many years. I spent my whole childhood drawing aliens, predators and other monsters.
How did you develop your signature tattoo style?
The main reason for the change and development of my style was my dissatisfaction with the quality of my work. This feeling is always present and it’s the engine of my progress. I was looking at traditional artists and tattoo artists whose work I liked. I took the ones with the most interesting work and analyzed exactly what I liked about it. I borrowed these techniques and I tried to draw them in my own way. This has been going on for years—some techniques were assimilated and transformed, while some were dropped out. As a result, I have the style I have now and I’m continuing to work on it. I think the most important thing when forming a style is to understand what you like to draw and what gives you pleasure when drawing.
What appeals to you about designing women’s faces?
To me, a woman’s face is a very expressive subject—it has a strong impact on the viewer. A beautiful female face awakens such emotions in the viewer as no other subject.
Why do you primarily use red and teal ink with your black-and-grey?
Have you tried other colors? I use red and teal with black because I like this combination of colors and these colors are the most contrasting with black. I’ve also tried yellow and green. Yellow isn’t very tenacious and contrasting, although I like how it looks on the skin. Green isn’t bad, but it is not universal. It seems to me that the color should emphasize the mood of the work and therefore green is only suitable for a narrow scope of work.
What’s the most valuable life skill you’ve learned in tattooing?
The skills that I use in tattooing are usually not applicable in everyday life. But perhaps, concentration. When you are tattooing, you completely concentrate on the process. It also helps in life to concentrate in some situations.
If you weren’t tattooing, what would you do for work?
Definitely something related to drawing; I do tattooing because I love to draw. If I weren't a tattooer, I would want to be an illustrator or a concept artist. I also really like beautiful interiors, so I think I could have been an interior designer. But for me, tattooing is one of the best activities for self-realization as an artist. You can independently develop your style as a real canvas artist.