The Belarusian tattoo artist Yury Timko, the guest of our Interview today, has been specializing in the favorite style of most tattoo fans for many years - realism.

Yury works in both black and gray and color tattoo, however as we can see from his portfolio - he prefers more classic black and gray tattoo realism.

Over the years of work, many large-scale projects have come out from under his hands that look very, very brutal, and partly with this brutality, he won the hearts of thousands of tattoo fans around the world. Now the tattooist is book clients in his private studio in the northern capital of Russia - St. Petersburg.

Yury, hello! Let's start with a classic question: how did your journey into tattooing begin?

Yury: Hello, nice to meet you, my name is Yury Timko, originally from Belarus, but currently live and work in St. Petersburg, Russia.

At the moment when I wanted to get closer to the tattoo, I did not know anyone from this field. But the tattoo itself found me! I got acquainted with tattoos in the army, when my friend offered to teach me how to tattoo after seeing my sketches and graffiti drafts. 

After the army, I already had little work experience. And at the time when I got my main job, on weekends I came to the tattoo studio and worked there as an apprentice. I believe that this is an invaluable and real experience that can give a lot in becoming you as a tattoo artist.

Why did you choose realism?

Yury: At the very beginning, when I was working in a tattoo studio as an apprentice, my first teacher wouldn't let me work on medium to large projects. As soon as I made small tattoos with confidence and quality, my teacher allowed me to take a larger tattoo project, but only a few centimeters. Experience has increased over the years. I have become more creative in my work with projects and also in my communication with my audience.

Of all the styles, I put a lot of emphasis on realistic tattooing. I also do painting and try to bring something to my tattoo style from there. Over the years, the look and direction of this style has gradually changed. And they are still changing. This is development, this is growth.

How exactly does painting help you work with realism?

Yury: When I paint a picture, I have the opportunity to develop and hone a skill, for example, to work out a certain detail, or to understand how light falls on an object, to reflect on it without haste. I can also feel the object, understand its characteristics and qualities.

In a tattoo session, this helps me to know more about the subject in advance, its texture, plasticity, its position in the composition, and so on. Without this practice it's like playing chess without knowing how each piece moves. Therefore, painting solves a lot in this matter and gives answers to many questions!

What skills do you consider the most necessary for working in tattoo realism? Do I need to get an art education for this?

Yury: First of all, a tattoo artist needs to be able to draw. This is the basis of this whole field. If you do not know how to draw, then you need to start from this, and then move on to tattoo.

I don’t have an art education, but as practice shows, and my colleagues from the tattoo industry agree with me, that at art universities the opinion of a teacher is often imposed, and the “fuse” to create is gradually lost, to be interested and experiment, to look for yourself, your own style and your place in global art!

I have been drawing since early childhood, my teachers have long stopped worrying about the fact that I always drew in a classroom, and later they did not interfere with me, but looked with interest into my sketchbook. After all, I studied pretty well and drawing did not bother me.

Since the age of 10 I have been drawing graffiti, and creativity accompanies and motivates my whole life! At around age 14, I won the first urban graffiti competition where the winner was sponsored in a major urban graffiti design project. It was an interesting experience where I painted graffiti in the center of the city day after day at the age of 14 in broad daylight (it was a big project), having all the accompanying documents for it! The police came several times to check on them and each time they were perplexed about this!

What possible career did you leave behind for tattooing?

Yury: By education I am a transporter-logistician. Perhaps this would be my career. Although I have been working in completely different areas since the age of 16, from sales to security services.

It's funny, but I never saw myself working on my specialty. Probably because I am more attracted to creative activities, where you can express yourself and all your abilities using your imagination!

How is your tattoo design process usually going?

Yury: Usually the client comes already with his own example or talks about the idea of ​​a future tattoo. I, in turn, try to bring something of my own into this project so that the tattoo becomes more unusual, distinguishes it, complements it from an artistic point of view.

Sometimes the client's choice of idea is spontaneous. This is less common, but the process itself is no less interesting. My clients come to me knowing my work and trust me with their skin.

Do you have favorite designs or tattoos that you are proud of?

Yury: Of course, there are favorite projects! Most often, these are large tattoos in which the client wants to reveal his story, idea. And for me, as an artist, he does not create restrictions. Such works are often developed and done in the same breath!

If I single out the most memorable works for me, one of the recent ones was a tattoo project that we did with a client for three days in a row on the topic of a common hobby of father and son.

The client is actively interested in motorcycle racing on the race track, and has been professionally doing this for quite a few years in his spare time. As far as I know, he is quite a busy man. His son also, over time, was imbued with this interesting hobby and began to engage in motorsport.

In the words of my client: “I am very happy that my son shares my love for racing. Kids grow up so fast and their hobbies change too. But at this moment, we can meet each other more often and be together on the race track, feel the speed, have a good time as father and son! In these moments I am truly happy! And I want to capture this in my tattoo!”

We have seen you many times at various conventions. What part of your life is taken up by such events and what do they mean to you?

Yury: Yes, I regularly participate in tattoo conventions in Europe and Russia. This makes it possible to meet like-minded people and tattoo fans from all over the world, to make friends with them. With some of them we continue to communicate and exchange experiences to this day!

Do you have any special creative plans for the near future?

Yury: I'm currently working on some large tattoo projects and paintings that I'm doing in oils and acrylics. I really want to see them finished!

The main news this year for me was the birth of my daughter! I hope she will be interested in learning more about my work in the future and maybe she will draw and tattoo too!