It's no secret that the beautiful is drawn to the beautiful. And the tattoo community is an excellent ground for creating not only professional and friendly, but also family unions. So it happened with the heroes of this interview. A family and creative tandem of talented artists, with such different styles, but such similar views on tattoo art and the tattoo industry in general. The guests of our column are tattoo couple Dmitrii Mironenko and Lina Shuliar.
Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? How did you come to the tattoo, what did you do before it?
Dmitrii: I am from St. Petersburg. Before tattooing, I worked as an architect.
After graduating from art-school in St. Petersburg, I did not know where to go next, but my teacher advised me to go to architecture, because it is a universal profession, and you can do whatever you want. And she was right, because it gave me a bunch of useful skills, perseverance and train my hand. I didn’t stay in architecture because I was attracted to manual activities - drawings and models. All I saw around me was the office and the blueprints in the AutoCAD, and it was very far from the old-school creative architecture that attracted me. The tattoo is very similar to the knowledge that was given to me - thinking over the concept and its implementation.
Dmitrii, how did you get into tattoos from architecture?
Dmitrii: I came to a tattoo by accident. I was faced with a choice - to go to become an illustrator or a tattoo artist. For some reason I chose a tattoo, because it seemed that it was easier to find a customer in it. Yes, and I'm not so assiduous as to draw constantly, I tried, but I realized - it's not mine. Tattoo is my kind of interpretation of architecture.
Lina, tell us about your journey, how did you become a tattoo artist?
Lina: I was born on Sakhalin, lived most of the time in Sochi, and now I work in St. Petersburg. As far as I remember, in 2010 - I tossed a coin with the question: «Should I make tattoos?», And the coin «said» - «YES». The fact is that before I did not take this opportunity seriously as a job. I had no idea that the «coin» would so successfully decide my fate. Probably, this should have happened, because I was always drawn in this direction - I have been drawing all my life, drew on my dad with markers since childhood, got my first tattoo at the age of 13, at that time the tattoo began to become popular in Russia. And so I had a question - should I try to make tattoos? The puzzle formed by itself.
Tell us about your style, what inspires you?
Dmitrii: Initially, I chose dots, and my first tattoo was in dots. I really liked this technique and the possibilities it gives in tattooing, and how they are preserved. It is important that the application process was less traumatic. I chose the ornament because I studied architecture - my hand was trained on the blueprints, and also because I don't like drawing (laughs).
Lina: Before, I did not understand what I was doing, doing an insane amount of colorful bright tattoos, but after some events I completely revised my outlook on life. And completely went into «black». I have always been inspired by mysticism, women and Japanese culture. This is how I combine what I draw now.
What does this word «tattoo» mean to each of you?
Dmitrii: Tattoo is a ritual, decoration. A chance to supplement, change the body. This is, in fact, the body modification of not only the body, but also the personality. Through pain new sensations come, the opportunity to reboot, to develop.
Lina: Tattoo is an event in a person's life. This is tantamount to a trip, a holiday, and any other significant moment. For many, this is a salvation from routine, a chance to visit a new atmosphere and exchange experiences. This is definitely not just a drawing.
Did you meet through tattooing? Tell us what common hobby and work in the tattoo area means for your family?
Dmitrii: Yes. Tattoos are a part of our life. We advise each other, support each other in work, in life. The wife-tattoo artist - is very convenient (laughs).
Lina: Yes, we worked in the same studio when I moved to St. Petersburg. We do not separate these two sides of life, tattoos are a part of us. We are very different, but through this contrast we develop.
Do you have collaboration tattoo projects?
Lina: Yes, we come up with each project together, regardless of who makes it. All projects that we do - everything is discussed at the family council, what to whom, how and where. We communicate with the client together, spend time together at the sessions. Collaborations also happen, especially when time is limited and you need to complete the project on time.
How did your parents feel about your love of tattoos?
Dmitrii: In general, it's okay. There was no negative from the family. Even my stepfather got a tattoo!
Lina: My parents still scold me for all my tattoos, but they understand tattooing as a profession.
Where do you get inspiration?
Dmitrii: I like cyberpunk, ethnic tattoos, historical and traditional plots.
Lina: People themselves inspire me with their ideas. And in general, the female body, beauty, mysticism and darkness, Japanese culture and art are very inspiring.
Do you have any favorite work or projects that you are proud of?
Dmitrii: Each project is interesting in its own way. I have seen so many people in different countries that this very opportunity makes the process of tattooing much more interesting than just projects.
Lina: I think that all my girls that I paint and bring to life are special. I put a lot of energy into each of them, and I get an extraordinary return from both their owners and the public. I believe they are magical.
Tell us what audience do you work with? Do they have something in common?
Lina: Of course, I notice the trend - if Dmitrii makes a tattoo for a client, his girlfriend will certainly come to me. Real family tattoos. Our clients often meet their friends at sessions. The circle of our communication is becoming common, many get acquainted thanks to us.
Which modern Russian or foreign tattoo artists do you consider worthy to be called «the best» and who, perhaps, are you guided by in your work?
Lina: In my work I am guided by foreign artists and colleagues. Non traditional Japanese tattoos and blackwork are very inspiring. I will always thank Slava Filitov for the warm welcome in his studio. I love Saiko Black as a teacher and a person. And, of course, Timofey Viktorovich (timvic_tattooer) is also a brother, friend and immortal comrade of our tandem. Thank them very much!
Dmitrii: I look at a huge number of tattoo artists, and I like only a part of each artist's work. I cannot single out the best, I see the whole picture in general. They all have their strengths. How can I call someone the best at something?
Are you a member of any Pro Team? What is your general attitude to this trend?
Lina: With great love, I would have entered into a Pro Team where people would develop each other, and would not give discounts on trinkets. Unfortunately, in the modern tattoo society there are almost no such ones, or I don't know about them yet.
Dmitrii: No, but if there is some interesting proposal, I'll think about it..
Have you conducted any personal events, activities: master classes, art exhibitions, etc.?
Dmitrii and Lina: Due to the huge amount of travel, we don't have time for something like that. But now we have many free time, and have managed to accumulate a number of pictures on canvases, which we plan to exhibit after the New Year. Further, upon arrival at home, we will also exhibit and do collaborations with bars. It seems to us that our creativity should go beyond tattooing, so we try different things.
Do you think that with the growing popularity of tattoos in general, is it easy for a novice tattooists to «survive» now?
Dmitrii and Lina: We think so. Because technology has stepped forward: iPads, tattoo machines, cartridges, a lot of information. No more lightboxes - you have flash brushes. Training, a bunch of video lessons. Advertise anywhere! Beginners start easily. What people used to spend years on is now available for everyone. More creative people come to the tattoo industry: designers, artists, illustrators. This affects the development of the tattoo itself. If you are talented, it doesn't matter whether you are a beginner or not.
Do you travel a lot for work? Where have you already managed to work and where are you going in the near future?
Dmitrii: Yes, many, mainly in Europe, the United States, were in Israel. I want to travel to authentic ethnic tattoo places, now I'm more interested in this. It's not just to have time to work everywhere, but to learn from another side in order to bring culture to the tattoo. Not just your own art, but something more traditional.
Are you frequent guests at international conventions? Are you planning to participate in any of them in 2021?
Dmitrii and Lina: We are not supporters of conventions of the old format, but we are happy to attend some events, like «Non-Convention». In 2021 we will participate in the Moscow Convention, then we will participate in Europe, it is interesting to look at some of the tattoo artists and show ourselves, especially now, when everything can close again.
How do you think the tattoo industry in Russia differs from the West?
Dmitrii and Lina: Maybe one difference is our community. It is being formed now and is developing somehow. In general, everything is the same. We may not have such high-quality pigments as abroad. But in general, everything is the same. Only the approaches of people (clients) to tattooing and their motivation are different.
What exactly do you think is the difference between a foreign audience and a Russian audience?
Lina: Overseas clients give a lot of freedom in creativity, they come to you because they really love what you do. That is, they are more open to something new. It develops you as a person and an artist.
Our mentality is different, more closed. People come with something as neutral and ordinary as possible. And when you explain what it can be cooler and in a different way, their eyes open, that is, here you act as a guide to the world of a conscious tattoo. Now you develop them, as a master.
I also want to say that in Russia people who come to the sessions, they no longer go for a tattoo, but to talk, get distracted, and reboot. For Americans or Europeans, this is a holiday. They come to get tattoos on their birthday, when something important has happened, etc. This is an event for them.
Dmitrii: I agree. A tattoo is not something you need. You come to a tattoo when you already have everything and want to learn something new. The difference is that tattoos are more affordable abroad, people have money, so the attitude is different.
How do you see the future of global tattooing in the coming years?
Dmitrii: Development in terms of technology. Less plastic and more organic matter, perhaps. On the contrary, I now like some authentic things and trends that existed long before our society.
Lina: Society's values are already changing now, new orders appears in society. I think there will be a different approach to work. Changes are coming, and we tattooists are very dependent on people, and it is in our interest to be professional in our work as never before. Many people will leave the profession, they simply cannot survive the crisis of changes.
What kind of changes in the values of society do you mean?
Lina: Everyone follows the news, and everyone understands that it will not be the same as before. People are going online, becoming more selective. The connections that have survived between people play a colossal role. People go and turn to those they trust. That is, they have become more selective in their tattooing, which is good.
What advice can you give for beginners?
Lina: If your spirit is weak, change your profession.
Dmitrii: Communicate! Reach out to tattoo artists you like and keep them in touch. Learn from experience, take your work critically. Tattooing is no different from any profession, everyone was newbies. Everything comes with time.