Humor and Neo-traditional Tattooing: a Conversation with Pavel Turbo
Today, we have a special guest. He is cheerful, charismatic, and his tattoos infused with witty humor are known by all fans of non-traditional tattooing. He is part of the NeotradRussia community and a member of the ProTeam Druid. He is a multiple winner and judge at conventions. He's the one who once burst into the world of non-traditional tattooing with a smile and he's here to stay! Meet - Pavel Turbo!
What did you do before tattooing? Why did you decide to become a tattoo artist?
- Before tattooing, I did many things (laughs). I studied at two different universities, of course one after the other. I was supposed to become a shipbuilder first, then an engineer in the field of cargo transportation. In the end, neither worked out. I worked as a seller of bad internet, unloaded massive pipes from steamers in the port of St. Petersburg, and did interior finishes with my family crew.
How did your career as a tattoo artist start?
- It all began in late 2011. There was a casual gathering then, it was the time when subcultures in the CIS region were flourishing. Following the recommendations of the guys from the company, I ended up with a well-respected tattoo artist at the time. I came to get an old-school sailing ship on my shoulder.
And there I saw that this was not just a strange hobby for non-formals, but a serious and real profession!
He had so many different unknown things and devices to me, big prints of old-school American pictures hung on the walls. There were whole books of sketches from old tattoo artists, and the studio smelled of Dettol (used to transfer sketches to skin).
After this acquaintance, I realized that this is what I wanted to do! And I was lucky, the master agreed to help me with this. He gathered my first equipment and showed me how and what to use. In the end, I dropped out of university in the last year, to dedicate all my time and money to the new profession. But that was already two years later.
Judging from your portfolio, it seems like you took a course in the traditional style almost immediately. Why did you choose this style?
- Yes, it may seem that way, but in reality, I was originally really into traditional American tattoos, and still am. All these old flash sets on yellow paper, that was the coolest thing I had ever seen! I'm not even sure if the neo-traditional style existed at the time in the form that we know it now.
And then, with the development of Instagram and other social media, I started seeing more and more new techniques in tattoos, all these cool styles from far-off countries. That's when I realized that neo-traditional is just an endless path for development. And since then, I've been following it. Although it turned out to be more tricky than I thought (laughs).
What unique features of your tattoos do you highlight yourself?
- I'd like to say that my style is recognizable. But it's not for me to judge, it requires an outside perspective. I've always made a priority of quality and cleanliness of work, so that when you look at the tattoo, your teeth shake from how smooth and tight it is (laughs).
And I do many strange themes. I think this also sets me apart. Like pigeons with human hands and a hairy chest. Or a sleeve made of chiseled bananas relaxing in the setting sun.