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Interview. Andrey Kolbasin | 2 Part

28 / 10 / 2019 Alexander Ledovskih
Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin / Photo: @andrey_kolbasin

The second part of our big interview with - Andrey Kolbasin will be primarily interesting to those who are already in the tattoo industry or just going to be part of it.

It will cover the topics of training for artists, European guest workers, tattoo conventions and the future of the industry.

Therefore, pour yourself a mug of tea and continue diving.

- And when did you get the idea to open your own tattoo school?

- I opened the school when I was able to do this. In the studios - you earn, and in school - only invest. And not in the business itself, but in the student. Raise him as a child.

In 2009, we had a situation with a friend, when he had nothing to pay for the rent, and I came up with some kind of idea. I suggested that we needs to recruit students and sell them his equipment.

We took two guys, but we had to do something with them (laughs). We sold them his equipment. These were Rechnoy's tattoo machines, they were had constantly glitch, they were not really tuned in, like the old Zaporozhets. There were disgusting machines, but I had to learn, so to speak in the field.

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

The students were a boy and a girl, and the girl finished this business quite quickly and went into architecture, and the guy was very ambitious, so he is now working in the professional field. This was my first student, who of course doesn’t do anything supernatural, doesn’t have huge popularity, doesn’t do realism, but he works in his own specific way and if he lived in Poland, he would conquer it. His name is Sanya Bahrevich.

I was very interested in teaching. I excitedly passed on the information that I had. I got carried away of this because there were many people who wanted to learn, I wanted to teach, to make strong artists from weak ones. I did not want to change the generation and make them rich and famous, but I wanted to help those who are confused. Because then no one helped me. This is my complex that has grown to ambition. When they refused me, I pledged that I would never refuse anyone. If you want to learn, come and learn.

At first, people wrote to me in VK, asked questions, and I answered them with pleasure, and then it all transmitted from mouth of mouth, saying that ask a question to Kolbasa - he will definitely answer. Absolutely free.

Then I worked in Odin tattoo studio. Of course, I did not see the very beginning of the development of the studio, but thanks to us, talented and ambitious artists, it grew into a cult studio and a store. Inside the team, I was always a teacher, giving advices to everyone. And on this wave I left. I decided it was time to open a school.

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

There was a proposal to do this inside the studio, but I immediately rejected this idea, because in my head it should be a full-fledged institute. Not even a school, but an institute. An institution in which a person can receive specialized professional education, even if it is at a vocational school level, no matter how funny it sounds, but a full-fledged tattoo specialist should come out of it, who will not only be able to make a tattoo, but will also be able to use all the tools own propaganda. I'm not talking about teaching people how to be a blogger on YouTube. But, if a person works in a certain style, then he has leverage and mechanisms for his popularization.

With the accumulated money, I rented the room and got one student. Also, another tattoo artist, a colleague from Odin, joined us.

Vanya Kurdyashov, my first student at school, had already completed his studies and was ready to open his own studio and make money. In what way he now has what he has. He travels to Europe, earns good money on sponsorship and so on. He is an excellent kid, grew up professionally and he had nothing more to do at school. And the question arose of hiring new students.

After some time, I was mentally and financially ready to open a full-fledged school. By that time, we had already changed several rooms, released several groups of students, conducted seminars and now it has all turned into a fairly large commercial school, in which we have many teachers and students.

- And how many students have already graduated from the school?

- Over the past year, about 50 people.

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

- Do you even take people with no tattoo skills to your school? For example, with some kind of artistic skills, or is it more of a continuing education school?

- The point is the potential of a particular person. I have a hard filter and anyway not everyone have oportunity to get to our training. There are people with whom you communicate and immediately realize that they are ready to become tattooists. And there are those who only want to earn money. So I immediately say no to these. They are need the way to the factory, then to business trainings and politics (laughs).

And tattoo is hard, cheap, you won’t earn much on it. Rare people can do it without a second job. After moving to St. Petersburg, I got a job at the Baltica factory, despite the fact that I was already a fairly established person and a tattoo artist.

There were students who could neither draw nor tattoo. And according to the preliminary conversation, I sent these people to preparatory courses, where they learn how to draw and I show them the tattoo technique.

In such a collaboration, a person who has taken a machine even for the first time can already tattoo. Just for one week, we managed to bring one of the students to a near-professional average level.

That is, when you have an idea of ​​volume, composition, perspective, and let the tattoo do without some inconceivable textures, like Ilya Fominykh, for example, but the two eyes in the tattoo sat in place, even color and everything looked very decent in general . Something that even in 20 years many inveterate tattooists did not come to - we did in 10 days.

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

- As I understand, now teaching take more time than a tattoo?

- In fact, I have already abandoned that initial understanding of tattoos in general. I have my expencive session, which, let's say, conducts a selection of a limited contingent of people who love my tattoos, respect me and love the world and everything around. These are nice wealthy people. In order to recoup all the basic costs and needs, it is enough for me to spend 2 sessions per month.

The second point, if I want to make a specific tattoo, I find a good model, like a canvas and I do not take money for a session. The rest of my life I devote to learning.

I don’t teach every day, because in such a case as training, methodology is important. Therefore, I devote a lot of time to developing my own training course. At the studio I have regular students on whose I train at. This is a field training and if I see any mistake, I immediately try to solve it.

I do not transmit only my experience, I try to fill a person with information in general. If I make realism, this does not mean that I can not teach the contour. I know how to draw a line and I know how to do it right. I know that it is necessary and important for a person to possess all available knowledge that can only be invented. The universal artist is always there and will be.

As a consequence, each universal artist can specialize in something specific, but at the initial stage I do not see the point of limiting it, it needs to be filled with everything, and he will make a choice later.

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

It takes me a lot of time to analyze, I travel a lot through educational programs of art training and try to extract from them what is useful to us. It is not enough to be a professional in your field - it is important to become an awesome teacher so that you can correctly convey information to your students.

- Do you want to make a state diploma?

- Well, not that I just want this - it should be a priori. But I have not even begun to move in this direction. It so happened that we can’t give a state diploma, because this is not a regulated profession in Russia. It sad. I understand that if in the next 10 years our country does not allow me to do this, I will do it somewhere else. And I will accept our citizens simply in another country./p>

- Do you travel a lot?

- Yes of course. In the last 1.5 years, I really haven’t gone anywhere, I was engaged in building a studio. In addition to developing a plan on how to make teachers out of artists, we still had the task of creating a large comfortable room in which people could have a rest and tattoo, learn a tattoo and get an art education.

We have three whales: an art school, a tattoo school and a large comfortable studio. It certainly exhausted me very much and cost crazy money. We spent everything that we had in order for us to have nothing.

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

- So, listening to you today I understand that you have a great intuition.

- Well, let's see (laughs). I found a way out of the crisis this way. I do not hide that we take a lot of money. This is such a limited part.

If you ask tattooists where to learn, they will answer: "Nowhere." If they know me, they will say that only here.

That is, you can't obtain another similar education in the world. Maybe somewhere there is something similar, but so far no information has reached me.

- And how much money is this?

- 200 000 rubles per seat.

- And the duration of the course?

- There are courses of various durations. At first we wanted to make a month, ideally two, but no one really went on it. There was less money, more was spent on all the time, and we realized that the more expensive - the more people, and the less time it takes - the cooler for them.

I had to give my best to come up with a course for a week. And I realized that such a huge amount of information cannot be fit in 7 days, so I expanded the program to 11 days.

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

We included medicine and composition there, we go to museums and disassemble living canvases. And now it takes from 7 to 11 days.

- Since we touched on the theme of travel, tell us what differences do you see between Russian tattoo culture and the western?

- At first, I thought that there really were a lot of differences. But then I ceased to distinguish between people: one head, one heart, two hands, two legs. All the same. There are smiling, there are no. If earlier I heard that everyone smiles at you there, but in fact they are all liars, now I already understand that everything is the same as at home. I am a fairly tolerant person, because it turns out I am not the navel of the universe, but the universe - this is some kind of common substance in which we all live.

Speaking directly about the differences, they are more likely in the mentality. It is felt. People there are praised for everything that they do, for example, you took out the garbage - well done. If you do tattoos, well done, but do it legally. Doing terrible tattoos - no matter, do it legally. They grown up with such a mentality. Everything that you want to do - do it legally. If you do something well, this is your bonus. But this does not work in Russia. If you do something bad, then you schmuck. And this is our reality.

This is especially felt when you teach people. While you work with them, they are all friendly. We are all gloomy, as if the cloud above us always. We do not trust anyone. Having arrived in Europe, I felt safe and felt that only I was creating danger. Such man with a beard, dirty shoes (laughs).

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

It's funny then I went to Kwadron for the first time, I clarified that if it’s not a secret, how do you recognize me, if you have never seen me and don’t know what I will be wearing. And they told me that all Russians wear dirty shoes. I looked at my shoes - really dirty. They even have crystal clear soles, because you can walk in Europe in the same boots and not bother - everything is clean, but as soon as you cross the border with Russia, you immediately get into a shit. It is inevitable (laughs).

They are always afraid of you. A smile is their defense system. They do not know what to expect from you and are therefore constantly on the defensive.

As for the artists, they often justify themselves there. Like, you say to the artist, that this is shit, he replies: "But this is better than it was." You motivate him to develop further, and he already begins to fear that he will become better. They are all about the same there. They do not like to stand out, to leave the comfort zone. If everyone has a house, then I have a house, if I wanted to put a weather vane on myself, then I will be the last one to do this on the whole street. Why should I be richer than others.

Everything is in the middle class. If you have left the middle class, you are already at the bottom or in prison. We don’t have that..

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

- It turns out that you taught artists in Europe too?

- I did not conduct the course. But all my trips to guest spots always turn into personal or public master classes. I suggest, for example, to draw them, and they begin to be shy, I swing them, saying: come on, I'll show you everything. And now it always turns into a seminar.

When I arrived at the first guest spot in Austria, I did not know English at that time. And there was a guy who helped me pull it up, and I pulled him up in a tattoo. Such a collaboration turned out.

- And you did not encounter what almost all the Russian artists say, that in the States and Europe a more consumer attitude to tattoo artists? They are compared for example to catering workers. Client say I pay money, so paint like this, change the sketch like this and so on.

- It certainly is, but it is everywhere around the world, not only in Europe, but also here in Russia too. The Tattoo whether artists like it or not is a service industry. Therefore, not leaving a person the right to choose is wrong. You need to respect the client. Show him a sketch before the session or, if you didn’t have time, try to explain why he suits him.

If you make a bad tattoo to a person, or just something that he doesn’t like, then he will tell you about it and will already point you to your place. In Europe it is everywhere, in Russia it is less, as well as the likelihood of a court claim from the client. But you just need to be prepared for this.

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

For example, a member of parliament will come to you, parking his Geländewagen on your steps, cordon off everything with security and say - today the studio is closed. Then we’ll see how you will fight with the consumer attitude and tell him that you are not in the service sector (laughs)./p>

In Russia, everyone is tattooed: politicians, businessmen, bandits and all other structures. The only ones who probably don’t get tattooed are Putin and people close to him. And that is not a fact (laughs).

If you work with students, you can prove to them that you are not in the service sector and refuse them. But there are people who do not accept denial answer. They will come to you and prove that you are wrong. This is of course in Russia.

It’s easier in Europe, there is a middle class and its representatives are used to getting what they pay for. The man there wanted a new phone, he went and bought it, wanted a tattoo - he came and did it.

We come there as guest workers and sometimes do not understand them. And their logic is simple. He came for a tattoo and if you refused him for no objective reason, he has a question: “Why was he refused to me? Is it something wrong with me? A Black guy, a Jew, and even gay? Why did he tell me that if I am black and on my skin it will not able to get a color tattoo? He insulted me!”

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

The state gave them the full right to behave as they want. If you don’t want to be a service industry, be a little trickier. A good half of tattooists are now migrating to Europe, discovering Asia, America and the way they behave there is very scary.

It used to seem to me that we are ahead of the rest of the world, especially in a tattoo, but now I understand that we are somewhere in the lower step. Because everyone around us has grown, and we have only become worse. Everyone goes to make some inscriptions, hieroglyphs and other nonsense, do it quickly and poorly.

In general, if you do advertising, then people-consumers come to you. Do not want customers - sit in the underground. There, Sasha Grimm, sits quieter than water, below the grass and he has no consumer relationship. Everyone has what they deserve. If you are treated like that, then you need to change something in your life.

- What do you think, where is it all going? I'm asking about the Russian tattoo.

- To changing, and changes will be successful. I believe that everything in history is cyclical. Wars, illnesses, cataclysms and tattoos are the same thing. The American tattoo has been around for many years, where equipment, styles and everything else changes every 10 years. After, it all collapses and trends change every 2 months, when new artists come up.

Before in America everyone was tattooed, but now smaller. Almost everyone has one tattoo, but this is no longer considered a tattoo. The industry began to form in the direction of business, the development of non-aggressive marketing. In the States, this happens first of all, then passes to Europe and then only gets to us.

Tracking all of this, I am engaged in teaching for a reason. Now, tattooists mostly tattooing tattoo artists or old clients. New people are maximum ready for some miniature things. And to return the niche back, you need to return to the underground. Let this pyramid collapse and everything will be restored in a new look.

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

In general, in the future it seems to me that everything will be designated by era. There will be, for example, the era of realism, and no one will listen to the speeches of Vlad Blad or Dmitry Rechnoy about what is wrong there, everyone will remember the people who made realism and taught it. There was Samokhin, he is and will be while there is an era of realism.

The era of realism is now passing. Prior to this, the era of Old School and Rechnoy, the era of heavy induction custom machines, skulls, rock. All this is history. It’s not worth remembering and talking about it, as well as about realism, which is today, and tomorrow it will be gone.

Now is the era of design. The European tattoo is now rising from its knees and I believe that it is ahead of the rest. Because what we were going to - we finally achieved. These are high-quality interesting styles, tattoos that are made quickly, not painful, cheap and beautiful. And everyone has their own personal handwriting.

Tattoo artists prepare a sketch for you in a few minutes, not just one, but six, so you can choose. And that makes the industry right, in my opinion. Now they do not bring vodka, but bring tea and coffee. Studios are changing the face of an evil basement atmosphere with skulls in the direction of presentable street shops.

The next stage is the development of studio life, such as combining a restaurant and a studio. It’s not that you came to eat and got a tattoo, but when you came to the session, you wouldn’t have to fool with ordering food. That's cool. Some of the guys Anrijs Straume and Monami Frost have their own vegan burger shop, which is cool in my opinion.

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

I’m not ahead of the time yet, but rather keep up with it, but maybe something will turn out, who knows. Our artists travel to Europe only for money, without bringing anything new, but only clogging it, just like guest workers. I am ashamed. I hope, along with the tattoo conventions, guest-spotting will also go away.

Is the conventions time already gone?

Yes. And not because it’s boring, they just have outlived themselves. The era of tattoo conventions has passed, 15 years - that's enough. It's time to crumple this sheet of history, throw it out and find something new to read. Education is on the agenda. Today there are a lot of tattooists at all and something needs to be done with them.

If before there was a shortage of communication and acquaintances, everyone was scattered around the cities, countries and wanted a union, a community, now there is no longer such a need for people to show off their tattoos. The tattoo is no longer in the underground. You adorned your body, this tattoo is cool only for you and no one will criticize you. So, finally it real!

This is how one part of the conventions is swept away. Because clients don’t go there, because they are embarrassing to go there and brag about their property. The fashion show has also gone out of fashion. Show expensive things now also unfashionable. This remained a privilege except for stylish bloggers.

The same flea market tattoo equipment will bring together many more people, especially novice artists who are eager to buy a box of cartridges cheaper and find out if it works or not. Equipment tests right there will bring much more benefit.

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

But the model of the tattoo convention is leaving completely. And the guest spots are also going away. Sometimes in Ryazan you can earn much more than on a guest spot in Dresden. Until there is still a chance that you will not be cheated, it will still live for some time.

I still go to the guest spots, but I already understand that I go there more like to friends. I cannot throw away part of my life, exchange it for money, saying that you don’t bring me profit anymore, and I won’t go to you - I can’t do this. These are my friends. I’ve been going to the one studio for 7 years.

Another point is bad skin. As for me, it’s not worth going there because of bad skin. No matter what good projects you come up with, they cannot be realized there.

Do you mean dark skin?

Dark, old, tanned. It may be light, but it is already all wrinkled. There, in general, young people don't have many tattoos, mostly people over 30. And over 30 girls look very bad there.

If our thirty-year-old girl blossoms, shows all her beauty, becomes delicious, in Europe they are just like a rotten banana.

By the age of 30, every European girl already thinks what to do with herself.

I do not want to offend anyone, but the women there are terrible. They themselves know this and are trying to do something with it. And the men are all slender, but also, who does sports, cannot do it without steroids, and this also affects the quality of the skin.

And now the artists from the same Ryazan think that having arrived in Europe, he will start earning like me. For example, I take $ 1000 in Europe and I take $ 1000 in Russia, and he takes 1000 rubles in Ryazan, and he thinks that in Europe he will also take $ 1000. But it imposible. He will get the same 1000 rubles there. In additional, he will spends money to the road and accommodation.

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

What about the United States? Why don’t you go there?

For reasons of conscience. At first, I did not like the States, I do not like Americans. All true stories from those who came back from there give me reasons to don't go there even to look.

But the working environment, it forces me to go there. And now I'm waiting for a certain moment. It is better to enter beautifully than to enter twice in the same river. When the time comes, I will go. But when this moment comes, it already depends more on Russia.

If I can achieve my goals at home, then with my home ideas I can go there and to process this whole home plan there. I understand that in the same form it will not work there, but I must be international in order to conquer the whole world.

I thought you really had some kind of entry problems.

No problem at all. For us, the C01 visa has now been opened - a blue card that, according to certain parameters, helps you quickly get exactly American citizenship.

Tattoo artist in the United States is an already registered profession. And any tattoo artist from all over the world who has awards at festivals, sat on the jury, he is generally the pride of his country and can benefit the American state - they are waiting for him.

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

He is immediately taken away, deported from Russia and about 8 months you hang out and get a passport. Thus, I do not even imagine the best conditions for moving from Russia to the States. Because you take your whole family with you, and an assistant that your relative, or your friend, can become. He also gathers his entire family. And now you are and all 20 people with you going to the States and get passports.

It would be foolish not to give your children the opportunity - . I work for the future. Getting an American passport is my goal. Leaving Russia - becoming happy in America - is unlikely. But I can give my offspring a chance to try their luck in America.

And what advice can you give to beginners? People look at you as an accomplished person, a successful artist, a teacher, as a person who has long-term plans. What advice can you give all these people?

I have advice as from the teacher. When you begin your life journey, you must think. Choosing a profession, we think mainly about profit. Tattoo artist is a good profession.

For those who are already in this profession, I would give advice to suffer, to cope with all obstacles. You can even go out for some extra work, but don’t give up this business. A talented person, talented in everything, someone can be a talented marketer in parallel with a tattoo or even make a lot of money as a waiter.

Nevertheless, a certain time will pass, and those who survived and stayed that time will receive their jackpot. Of course, I do not promise this, this is not a presidential speech for the New Year. It may turn out to be bad, but my advice for those who want to stay in the industry is to do it like me.

I suffered that time. Time heals, time will tell. If you develop, grow, saturate the industry with a new one, and not be a parasite of your profession, you will be rewarded.

Tattoo artist Andrey Kolbasin, classical color and black and grey tattoo realism | Interview for iNKPPL | St. Petersburg, Russia

Well, for those who are just thinking about how to become a tattoo artist looking at some tutorials on the Internet, I would advise you to think seriously, because now is the age of packaging. Any advertisement sells absolutely nothing.

When you are given advice on the Internet how to become a tattoo artist in 3 seconds for 15,000 rubles, remember that for these 15,000 nowadays you can bring so much benefit to yourself. For 15,000 you can pay for a vocational school, get an additional programming skill, and with each such investment in yourself you will become only stronger.

If you still decide to become a tattoo artist, such advice - learn English. The rest is all there.