Art of tattooing excites and inspires many. Behind each graceful pattern or picturesque image stands a talented master whose hands transform illustrations into living works of art. Today, we will talk to one such artist whose creative journey began far from this art but led her to masterful handling of machine and needle.

Meet our interviewee - talented tattoo artist Lena Aleksandrova, whose style and creativity are inspired by the New School direction. Her bright playful works evoke genuine admiration from fans of illustrative tattooing worldwide.

Tattoo artist Lena Aleksandrova

Today, Lena will tell us about her creative path, sources of inspiration, and how she deals with creative challenges while maintaining her uniqueness in the world of tattooing.

How long have you been in tattooing? And how did you come to be a tattoo artist?

- I've been in this profession for about 9 years. Before that, I was very far from the tattoo industry, engaged in interior design until I met a team of tattoo artists in Kazan. They taught me how to hold the machine in my hand and invited me to work with them. As for sketching, I was already making amateur attempts at drawing characters at that time, so it was just a matter of developing skills.

Tattoo artist Lena Aleksandrova

For you, is tattooing art, work, or something else?

- For me, tattooing is a direction in art that ultimately does not belong to you. It would be nice, as with drawings on paper, to spread all your tattoos on the floor, lie on them, and depict an angel.

Why did you choose the New School direction? What (or who) inspired you to do this?

- I fell in love with this style as soon as I saw it. After academic drawing, plein airs, and portraits from life, cartoons seemed something fantastic to me. Talent is necessary here, I thought.

I was inspired mostly by the work of illustrators, such as Sergey Ishmaev, Otto Schmidt, but also tattoo artists - Victor Chil, Jamie Ris, Kelly Doty.

Tattoo artist Lena Aleksandrova

What plots or characters are in your personal top?

- I most often turn to characters from cult movies or memes. For example, I have a whole set of characters from Stephen King adaptations. I least often turn to cartoon characters. Probably because they have already been drawn before me.

Tattoo artist Lena Aleksandrova

Do you usually work with client ideas or your own?

- Most often, I work with client ideas, sometimes they provide almost complete freedom for imagination. Some clients find it easier to choose a ready-made idea from my sketchbook with free sketches because I draw a lot.

What's cooler: New School or Neo-Traditional? And how does an average person distinguish one from the other?

- As someone who is NOT an average person in the tattoo world, I cannot clearly explain the difference between these styles. They even share similar word formations phonetically. New School may differentiate itself with more exaggerated character features and brighter color schemes than Neo-Traditional, but the line is thin, if it exists at all. New School is undoubtedly cooler and more fun.

Do you have any special or favorite projects? Or perhaps some quirky stories from your career?

- My favorite projects are usually those that were drawn by me not by order, but as if "on the table," but which eventually are implemented on the skin. I love them the most. Of course, there have been some small quirky stories, but not so many.

Tattoo artist Lena Aleksandrova

My favorite story is when a client came to me to get a tattoo and brought his girlfriend, a novice tattoo artist, to watch how I work. Later it turned out that he took money from her for this. I am completely devoid of business thinking, but my clients are not.

How do you manage to maintain creativity day by day? How do you deal with burnout?

- I don't fight burnout, I cooperate with it. A new creative wave always follows creative crisis. Therefore, to avoid having to draw creativity from my own eye bags, I learned to track this cyclicality in myself. I try to be as productive as possible during "manic episodes" and generate as much content as possible so that during burnout periods, I can distance myself from myself and not feel guilty for idleness. It's a deal with my own body.

Tattoo artist Lena Aleksandrova

Do you participate in conventions? Share your experience.

- I have several awards, but not many. First and third place in the "New School" nomination, Tattoo Festival in Kazan (Russia), 2016. And three awards - one second and two third places for two days in the "Color Tattoo" nomination, Tattoo Convention in Bamberg (Germany). I also had the opportunity to participate as a judge in the online tattoo convention Generation in 2022.

Unfortunately, I was not active enough within the industry, which I regret. You can be a capable person, but tattoo events, collaborations, networking, drum dances, and other rituals will not be superfluous.

Have there been collaborations with other masters in your career or outside the tattoo industry?

- Yes, I was lucky to participate in collaborations with Kate Holt, Vitaly Pozharsky, twice with Andrey Flicker... I hope I didn't forget to mention anyone. I periodically participated in various challenges with other artists, especially during the period of self-isolation in 2020.

How do you assess your popularity? And why do you think clients choose you?

- The level of my popularity: people recognize my work more often than they recognize me. And honestly, this is the level I aimed for. I would like even more people to recognize my work. I hope clients choose me not only for the quality and uniqueness of the tattoos but also because I am a pleasant person.

Tattoo artist Lena Aleksandrova

Do you keep statistics on how many countries people have tattoos with your designs? Where are your tattoos most popular?

- Probably, most people with my tattoos are still in Russia, but many of them have moved to other countries, such as countries in Europe and the USA. Based on social media statistics, the majority of those who follow my work are in Russia, with the USA in second place.

Do you conduct training or master classes for tattoo artists?

- Except for the case mentioned above, I have never been involved in teaching, although such a request exists. Right now, I am investing all my resources in my creative development, so I do not plan to teach in the near future.

Tattoo artist Lena Aleksandrova

Do you have tattoos yourself?

- No, I don't have tattoos. Initially, when I first joined the tattoo profession, I wanted a big interesting project on myself, but I couldn't decide on the idea and the artist for a long time. And the more I focused on my own self-development, the further I moved away from this decision. It's been 9 years already, and I still haven't come up with anything, so I still go without tattoos.

Tattoo artist Lena Aleksandrova

What motivates you to create and develop? What career goals do you set for yourself?

- I don't have a specific endpoint that I aim for. The whole path through hardship to the stars is the goal. I do what I really love, work at a comfortable pace for myself.