Andrey Popov about the love of black and grey realism, newcomers to the industry and learning trends

Andrey Popov about the love of black and grey realism, newcomers to the industry and learning trends
Tattoo artist Andrey Popov / Photo: @amp_art

Today we want to introduce you to a tattoo artist from St. Petersburg, whose artistic talent and incredibly high-quality technique are worth looking at not only for beginners, but also for experienced artists.

Andrey Popov, who has been successfully working in black and grey tattoo realism for many years, told us about his works, master classes and his views on the trends towards simple education in the tattoo industry.


- Tell us a little about yourself and how and when did you decide to be tattoo artist?

- My name is Andrey Popov (@amp_art), I am a tattoo artist from St. Petersburg, now I work in the Blackout studio.

I got acquainted with the tattoo at the age of 17, when I was still in school in 2007. I stumbled upon a business card of a tattoo artist in my home town (at that time he lived in Cherepovets). I decided to ask him and become his student. I thought that there I could apply my love to painting, plus I was fond of graffiti for a long time. For about a year I just watched the process and studied, then I started trying it myself, and since 2009 I started to make tattoos.

Tattoo artist Andrey Popov, black and grey tattoo realism | St. Petersburg, Russia

- What does this word «tattoo» mean to you?

- For myself, I came to the conclusion that a tattoo is a «beautiful scar». Like scars, tattoos hold stories about a moment of life. Someone is proud of them, for others they are sad memories. Sometimes it is just an imprint of some interests and hobbies.

- How did you start your journey? Tell us about your first client, about the first steps in tattooing.

- Like most tattooists of that time, I began my journey from Old School works. And my very first client was me myself. It was important for me to understand how the machine itself is felt in the hand, and what painful sensations the client will experience.

Well, my first work on another person was done under the supervision of an experienced tattooist, but it was still very exciting. It was extremely inconvenient to hold the tattoo machine in hand, and in general it was not clear how it worked. The work was small, but it felt like I had done a great job.

Tattoo artist Andrey Popov, black and grey tattoo realism | St. Petersburg, Russia

- Tell us about your tattoos, what style are you working in now?

At the moment, I have come to the point that most of all I love black and grey realism. I like to create volume and achieve a sense of realism. It is also important for me to fit the work into the body, I really like how tattoos in this style look harmonious on the skin, every time I want to create something interesting and suitable for a specific person. Well, to all this are added such bonuses as: it heals easier, less traumatic, less often there may be allergies, since black pigment is suitable for almost any type of skin.

Tattoo artist Andrey Popov, black and grey tattoo realism | St. Petersburg, Russia

First of all, I try to make my work rich and contrasting. I like to create plot compositions in which there is not only the main subject, but also elements that complement the plot. I really like to use details and textures. Most of all I am attracted by dark plots with a certain symbolism, I love it when the work causes awe.

- Where do you get inspiration for your work?

- Perhaps the strongest inspiration for me comes from clients. All complex and interesting ideas that at first glance seem crazy or impracticable, in the end make you think differently and there is a kind of excitement.

Tattoo artist Andrey Popov, black and grey tattoo realism | St. Petersburg, Russia

- Does the size of the tattoo matter to you?

- I believe that a tattoo can be of any size, as long as it fits well into the body. But I give preference more to large projects, there is an opportunity to show the plot more deeply.

Tattoo artist Andrey Popov, black and grey tattoo realism | St. Petersburg, Russia

- How do you think, in the modern digital environment and ubiquitous graphic design, the fashion for classic styles such as black and grey realism is undergoing a change?

- I think not only black and grey realism, but realism in general began to change a little. More and more artists are trying to add some features and elements to their work to stand out. And, of course, using the same iPad, it became much easier and faster.

Tattoo artist Andrey Popov, black and grey tattoo realism | St. Petersburg, Russia

- If tomorrow realism in a tattoo ceased to exist, what would you do?

- In general, I paint my art, which is far from the usual realism. I would just put even more emphasis in this direction. I'm not only interested in realism, and I never thought that this is the pinnacle of tattooing. It's just that at the moment I'm very interested in working with him, and so far it hasn't even started to bother me.

- Which of the modern, Russian or foreign tattoo artists do you consider worthy to be called "the best" and who, perhaps, you are guided by in your work?

- I like the works of many artists, but I would like to highlight these guys: @levgenknysh, @kasasink, @bb_bastianblau, @tomftattoo.

Tattoo artist Andrey Popov, black and grey tattoo realism | St. Petersburg, Russia

- Are you a member of any Pro Team? What is your general attitude to this trend? What do you think it gives an artist?

- At the moment I work only with my friends Syndrome Tattoo Shop. In general, both the artist and any company can benefit from cooperation. Only the format of cooperation itself (handouts of consumables or equipment) is often uninteresting, for example, when companies entice already very popular self-sufficient characters in the process.

- Have you conducted any personal events, activities? (master classes, art exhibitions, etc.)

- Recently I held a meetup and a master class on greywash - I wanted to show that greywash can be expressive and told how you can achieve this. The emphasis was made on the preparatory stages, the approach to the layout and the artistic component. I gave a master class in order to immediately show in practice the use of all theoretical tricks.

Tattoo artist Andrey Popov, black and grey tattoo realism | St. Petersburg, Russia

he main goal of this meetup is to increase loyalty to this style, and this training format is suitable for tattooists of different levels. Well, when I prepare for such events, I lay all the knowledge in my head for myself.

Tattoo artist Andrey Popov, black and grey tattoo realism | St. Petersburg, Russia

- What do you generally think of this learning trend? Why do tattooists teach?

- I believe that this trend will positively change the tattoo industry. There will be more information, newbies will be able to bypass our many years of self-study experience, and raise the level of the tattoo even more.

- Each artist looks for his own goal when teaching. Someone is really trying to change this area for the better, someone is just trying to make money, and someone is just drawing more attention to their person. The main thing is that the quality of training need to be good, and the reasons are no longer so important.

- With the growing popularity of tattoos in general, is it easy for a novice tattooist to «survive» now?

- Now, on the contrary, it is many times easier for a newbie to «enter» this industry and not only survive, but become a cool tattoo artist in a couple of years. There is a lot of useful and even free information on the tattoo itself, on how to make it profitable, how to develop yourself! Previously, it took a very long time to turn a tattoo from a hobby into a job.

Tattoo artist Andrey Popov, black and grey tattoo realism | St. Petersburg, Russia

- Do you travel a lot? Where have you already managed to work and where are you going in the near future?

- So far, apart from Russia, I have managed to work most of all in England. The main thing for me is that people from all over the world are waiting for me.

Tattoo artist Andrey Popov, black and grey tattoo realism | St. Petersburg, Russia

- Are you a frequent visitor to international conventions? Are you planning to participate in any of them in 2021?

Until recently, I thought conventions were not important. But now I want to visit at least the most popular ones, such as the London tattoo convention, and of course the local St. Petersburg Tattoo Weekend, St. Petersburg Tattoo Festival.

Tattoo artist Andrey Popov, black and grey tattoo realism | St. Petersburg, Russia

- Do you think the tattoo industry in Russia is different from the Western?

- It seems to me that in Russia the tattoo industry is still slightly behind the West. Not such a large audience, no strong story yet. But there are a lot of really good artists.

- How do you see the future of the world tattoo in the coming years?

- I believe that more and more will be precisely the artistic component, and thanks to the development of equipment, consumables, as well as the availability and abundance of information, the overall level of the tattoo area will grow.

Tattoo artist Andrey Popov, black and grey tattoo realism | St. Petersburg, Russia

- What advice can you give to beginners?

- Do not be lazy and enjoy the process of both the tattoo itself and the development!

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