Valentina Ryabova is one of the most outstanding Russian modern tattoo-artists. She quickly became world-famous thanks to her realistic works. Her tattoos impress the viewers with detailed elaboration and faithful artistic performance, which helped Valentina to win numerous international tattoo conventions awards.
During the recent Moscow International Tattoo Week we were lucky enough to become personally acquainted to Valentina and ask this bright and charming lady some questions.
A person’s path starts with his birth, that is why, Valentina, I’d like to begin with a traditional question I ask tattoo-artists. Who did you want to be when you were a child?
Valentina: «I wanted to become an artist and alternately I took an interest in other professions, which I study now, I attend classes just for myself. But drawing has always been my priority. My father often told me that an artist is not a profession. Moreover, he treated me more like a son a little bit. Therefore it was a pleasure for me to meet his expectations and I tried to be independent. Unfortunately my dream to enter the Repin Academy remained unfulfilled because of these expectations and I studied to be a graphic designer. After 4 years of my studies I realized that it was not what I really wanted to do. Nevertheless, it was a useful experience.»
Very interesting! When did you decide to be a tattoo-artist, what were the crucial events in your life? Was there someone who you could call your guide to the tattoo art?
Valentina: «I took up tattoo as soon as I graduated from the university. I spent the summer deciding what I could do and by September I made up my mind to try my hand in this sphere, as I’d always been into some extreme activities and of course art forms.»
Amazing! Do you remember your first impressions as a tattoo-artist? Who were your first clients?
Valentina: «Curiously enough, my first clients were some people I didn’t really know and my ex-boyfriend. I don’t remember anything special; I was like a duck to water. Of course I was afraid of many things at first, I was afraid of someone else’s blood, needles, some technical troubles, I’m still not good at all this technical stuff. And I was also concerned about the people’s disapproval. »
I can see what you mean. What is your inspiration source? Which motifs, moods are to your liking? Have you already reached the harmony in your creative work or you still continue to search and to grow?
Valentina: «No matter how hackneyed it may sound, development is what you always need. I find the greatest inspiration in some unstable emotional state, which is close to depression but when you know that everything is generally OK. I also get inspired by some personal experience, sexual emotions, extreme, nature and its beauty, people’s looks, human body, and music. All in all there are lots of things that can fill me with enthusiasm, but when I’m deeply in sorrow – that’s the time when the best works are born. By all means I prefer more aggressive and sexually colourful motifs in works. It’s difficult to explain and I don’t think it’s important, to be honest.»
Sounds great. You’ve already achieved worldwide recognition; you take part in international events, you are occasionally on the jury on some conventions and you organize masterclasses. To your mind, is there someone among the novice tattoo-artists who is somehow remarkable and deserves special attention?
Valentina: «I don’t even know what to answer, really. I’m more interested in painters actually.»
Ok, and could you please tell me about your plans for the nearest future? Which events are you going to attend? Are you working on some special projects now?
Valentina: «I’d like to have more practice in making a tattoo from life. Once I made this already – I tattooed a man with an image of his wife, drawing from life. I want to organize more masterclasses and bring to the artists the importance of the visual arts. I’d also like to have more time for learning from painters and designers. I don’t have many plans for conventions: I’m going to Florence in November and that’s all for now. I was thinking about fests in London and New York but all these difficulties with visa are holding me back.»
I can see your point. To sum it all up, what can you say about the Russian tattoo-culture in general? Is it moving in the right direction?
Valentina: «The main thing I’d like to mention is that Russian artists are not used to being criticised. Everybody just comments the works of one another like: “Wow, super!” and that’s it. Even the slightest reasonable critical remark can be taken as a personal offend and cause a negative reaction. However, to receive some critical feedback from artists and painters is almost the only possible way for development. There’s enough creativeness in Russia, but the masters don’t really seek the visual quality, they like to copy one another. It’s subjective, of course, but I’m obsessed with the image quality and competence.»
Valentina, thank you so much! It was great! Wish you a great mood and inspiration!
Valentina: «Thank you!»
(Translated by Nina Smoliyakova)