Eerie, but attractive world of monsters by Sergei Titukh
In the works of the tattoo artist from St. Petersburg Sergei Titukh, you will find everything that you are so afraid to see in a dark room or night forest: toothy monsters, creepy witches, forest beasts, vampires, creatures with disgusting insect limbs. Believe me, he knows everything and even more about your fears.
Every scary creature that you could imagine already lives in his tattoos. But it is unlikely that you will succeed, because this eerie world is the product of the imagination of an artist who knows a lot about monsters. The creatures that inhabit his portfolio are pure magic of his imagination.
But the paradox of his portfolio lies precisely in the fact that all these frightening creatures fascinate and captivate the viewer, you want to look at them, understand the details, and maybe even get to know them better. Obviously, all the carriers of tattoos by Sergei Titukh, not only are not afraid of these monsters, but have struck up a strong friendship with them.
Just look at these characters, aren't they cute?
More details about Sergei's tattoo path, his work and inspiration - we will learn from the firsthand 😊
- Sergei, good afternoon! Let's not change the tradition of our interviews and start with an acquaintance. Where do you work now, what did you do before tattooing?
- My name is Sergei Titukh, I live in St. Petersburg, Russia and work in one of the most stylish and coolest studios in the city center - INKME.
I was born in a small town in the Rostov region, in 2005 moved to St. Petersburg to study, and stayed here to live. I entered the Maritime Academy, but six months later I realized that it was not interesting for me and entered the Faculty of Design. I had no artistic training, but at the university we had practical classes in drawing and painting. I really began to develop my drawing when I started tattooing, but the university gave me a good foundation in artistic development.
In my last courses, I realized that design in the sense in which it is taught to us at the university does not appeal to me, as of course work in an office too. I wanted freedom, to find myself. I was interested in working in the bar industry, and even had plans to build a career in this area. But after 3 years of working at the bar, I got tired of talking to the "cheered up" guests. I realized that I want something more, some kind of change in my life, to realize myself from a more creative side. Friends knew that I was drawing and all the time they pushed me to learn tattooing, I do not exclude that for selfish purposes 😄.
- How did you end up in the tattoo industry from the restaurant business?
- Probably, in 2009-2010, I tried to take the first steps towards tattooing, I decided to find a studio where I could learn this, and ended up in the Tattoo Artist studio, at that time it was on the Petrograd side, in the Orlandina rock club. The cost of training for me was quite high, I could not afford that amount of money (although in fact, it was not so much). But also in this studio there were piercing courses that were cheaper, and body modification was generally interesting to me, so I decided to become a piercing master.
I joined the party, met many interesting people who, at that time, were at the top of the tattoo culture, but I never studied tattooing as a craft and, to be honest, lost interest a little, went deep into piercing. In piercing, I also did not reach special heights and decided not to continue doing this.
But, after 3 years, being an employee of the restaurant industry, I again fired up the idea of a tattoo, and in the fall of 2014 I bought my first tattoo machine. It was difficult for me to make a choice in buying and I relied on a big-name and quality. I also wanted a universal tattoo machine for different types of work, since I did not understand what exactly I would do. As a result, I bought a Stingray from InkMachines and did not regret it at all, since this machine worked with me for 3 years - I studied on it and subsequently got tattoos.
- Do you remember your first works? Did you have teachers?
- I started to train myself, I did not have teachers, and I collected all knowledge from the Internet, watched videos about how other tattooists work, and found the necessary information from articles. I spent the first training on myself, on my legs, these tattoos are still with me, although they need to be properly corrected.
After the third tattoo, which I did on myself, I felt confident that I could tattoo someone else, and these, of course, were my friends. I started working at home and bought all the necessary equipment. I am not a supporter of “couch” tattoos and tattoos in the kitchen, so I made myself a mini studio in my apartment: I had a table and a couch, a dry heat for sterilization and much more that is necessary in the work of a modern tattoo artist. I was very worried that I could harm someone's health if I poorly approach the process.
But I didn’t work at home for long, probably at that time I had about 5 well-done works in my portfolio, and I saw an announcement about the opening of a new studio, which was aimed only at graphic black-and-white works - Blackyard Tattoo. There was a set of tattoo artists in the studio, and the guys took me. I was incredibly happy that I would be working in a real tattoo studio. There they helped me a lot to develop as a tattoo artist. I worked there for about 2 years. Then I opened my private studio and began to travel a lot in Europe and the USA. Since the end of 2019 I have been working with the INKME team.
- In your portfolio there are an endless number of different frightening, creep images that are similar either to the heroes of some ancient fairy tales, or to creatures that inhabit nightmares. Why did you choose this theme? Who are all these creatures? And where do you get your inspiration?
- At the beginning of my path, I was not exactly sure what I would draw. But in 2010, I noticed several tattoo artists who did graphic work and used only black color, I was interested in this, and I decided to try to draw something in this style. Also, I had no passion for color drawings and working with a large palette of colors.
And by 2015, when I definitely decided to engage in tattooing, I decided for myself that it would be black monsters and all sorts of creepy creatures. I'm not exactly sure why I stopped on this theme, but I have always liked dark creepy creatures, fantastic films and horror films with them, besides, I love heavy music - black metal, doom metal, etc., which is saturated with darkness and heartbreaking screams ... Perhaps this became the basis of my interests and preferences in tattooing.
At that time, I saw several tattooists who already made creepy b/w creatures in a tattoo, and I really liked it, and I realized that I could create my own world with monsters. All my friends and clients supported me and expressed their interest in my dark creations.
Yes, sometimes, these are some characters from fairy tales or legends, characters from films and video games, which I interpret in my own way in a tattoo. But, more often, the characters are completely invented by me. Now I try to get away from creating characters based on existing heroes of books and films as much as possible, I'm really interested in developing myself as an artist and immersing clients in my world with creep creatures.
- What features of your work can you highlight?
- I prefer not to rely on existing themes and not to take plots that other tattooists have already done. I like to use insects and underwater elements in my art. I don't really like to use plants, with the exception of dry trees, but if plants and flowers are added as a small element, then this is to my liking. I don't really like drawing animals. If the client asks for a specific animal, then the task is to draw this animal as realistically as possible, and authorship fades into the background. I do my best to do well, but it doesn't inspire me, so I try to avoid such orders.
- Since we started talking about the plots of tattoos, tell us about your clients. Does the client bring an idea or do you always work with yours?
- Clients are very different, with different interests, from a modest girl working in an office to a brutal metalhead. It is difficult to describe them, I will say that all of them are interested in getting something dark from me. Someone shows their versatility with such a tattoo, wants to destroy stereotypes, and someone supplements their “gloomy” essence with such pictures.
Probably half of my clients also share my love for heavy music, nature and dark forces 😊.
I think that most of my clients are girls. 40% of my clients give me the freedom to create characters or choose ready-made characters that I have already invented, I really appreciate that. The remaining 60% offer me their ideas, based on existing characters, but I try to fulfill their ideas as much as possible in my style, and as a rule people do not mind this, because they came for my author's performance. Thanks to them for that!
- What tattoo equipment do you prefer and why?
- I started to learn and work with a rotary universal machine, I also had a power supply from Critical, an excellent unit by the way, which worked with me for 5 years, after which I sold it as I switched to a wireless machine.
A couple of times in my life I used an induction tattoo machine to understand what it is, but I got so used to the lightness of a rotary machine that I could not readjust, I realized that I was comfortable working with only one machine. Three years ago I switched to a pen from FKIrons, it is very convenient and fits all my requirements, and now I work as a wireless rotary pen. I am glad that I finally got rid of wires. It is very comfortable to travel with it. I prefer needles from Kwadron, usually in my work I use a set of 3RLLT, 7RLLT, 9MMT. A year ago I started using paint from Allegory Ink, a very good, deep black color. Sometimes I use white to convey contrast or when overlapping, and sometimes I also use medium gray for backgrounds and guide lines.
- Do you have any idols among tattoo artists? Who are they?
- Yes, of course. There are so many great tattoo artists right now who are bringing more and more interesting things to the tattoo world. In fact, there are a lot of tattooers who are interesting to watch, and I'm afraid the list will be long. I will name a few that inspired me at the beginning of my career, and still remain my idols.
Alexander Grim - I admire the cleanliness and accuracy of his lines and the presentation of the plot. He is, without a doubt, the first on my list. Rob Borbas, aka Grindesign - scale and quality of his work, the dynamics of the drawing are fascinating. Deni Aktemirov - probably like many others, I loved his work as soon as I found out about him, and am still amazed by his transfer of volumes and creation of forms.
- How can you assess your popularity in the industry? And how do you think it can be measured?
- Without modesty, I can say that I have enough popularity, since people from all over the world know my works. But of course, I'm far from the top of fame, the places there are already taken 😄. But I am working on promotion, because in modern tattooing, as in any other business, you cannot do without it.
I think at some point I gained popularity by doing a number of works with "creepy cute freaks", and this created the basis of my subscribers. But the longer I was engaged in tattooing, the more I wanted to understand the techniques and sometimes changed my style, and thus, in my opinion, spoiled my inner vision. I often looked to other tattoo artists and tried to try similar techniques in my works. Now I try not to cloud my mind and try to restore the original idea, but with the same level of technology that I received over the years of work.
- The popularity of a tattoo artist often leads to an increase in the copying of his works by less successful tattooists. Have you encountered this in your career, because the characters in your tattoos are very memorable?
- Like every artist who has done a great job creating a design for a tattoo (and this is, as a rule, an individual order), of course, I have a very negative attitude to copying other people's works. But unfortunately, I have faced this many times in my career. Many of my tattooist friends have the same problem, but without it, our business is nowhere.
The only advice I can give to such "tattooists" who repeat other people's work: do not sign or refer to the artist whose work you copied, it will shame you even more. And if you still borrowed the work, then make an effort and change it.
Also, do not forget that by copying other people's work, you deprive the design of both your client and the one for whom it was originally made. And an individual sketch is the most valuable thing that I can offer as an artist. After all, few people want to make themselves template tattoos from the catalog, everyone wants to be different. Do not give in to the client's persuasion, you need to convince him and come up with something original together.
- Do you follow the tattoo industry in general? What can you say, is modern tattoo: art or commerce? Where do you think the Russian and the Global tattoo industries are heading?
- I don't really follow the industry, maybe it is worth paying more attention to this, but I feel comfortable without it at the moment 😄.
I think that modern tattooing is a commerce, but still, you can't do it without art. Tattoo artists, who really have creativity and their own vision of the drawing, now have the opportunity not to close themselves in the closet, but to make money on this and develop themselves even more. And such artists always have their own target audience ready to buy, I think it's great. Not many can boast of a job where you enjoy what you love and have an income. It seems to me that there are a lot of talented tattoo artists in Russia, and I am not afraid to say that along with foreign ones, Russian tattooists occupy one of the first places in the tattoo culture.
The future of global tattooing, like any future, is difficult to predict. But I think that interest in tattooing will slowly decline, fashion will pass. Now every second person has a tattoo, and at some point it will not be so relevant. But I am not upset about this, since those who have earned trust in the tattoo industry will remain at their peak, and all those who do not seriously approach their work and do not develop themselves - will disappear. So we will not be left without work, the client will always find his tattoo artist.