Spotlight: Graphic Tattoos By Ivana Belakova
The work of tattoo artist Ivana Belakova is one of the most eye-catching during the last decade. She is bringing a more positive alternative to Trash Polka, while using the same codes: a mix of realism with painting-like abstract elements, and of street style with fine art. But in place of dark colors, she prefers vivid flashy ones, and her tattoos are definitely more in the side of life and joy, with their connections with childhood, nature and poetry. A multi-winning tattoo artist, she has participated to some of the biggest and most prestigious tattoo shows, especially in the USA, but also in France, UK and Italy. Her art has been collected and exhibited in various exhibitions, and she has collaborated with various art schools internationally. She has also published a book called Narcissistic Rockstar, collecting some of her favorite and unseen designs. I have asked her some questions for the Tattoodo’s readers.
Hi ! Can you tell us more about you ?
My name is Ivana, I am tattoo artist from Slovakia and I am 33 years old. I am based in California, in Los Angeles, working at Outer Limits tattoo shop at the moment. I am also traveling all around the world for guest spots or tattoo conventions. I enjoy sport, photography and traveling a lot! Those are my biggest hobbies!
Was tattooing a natural career for you ?
I started to tattoo around year 2000-2002 and I am self-thought. I don't have any formal art training. Just after I finished my studies as an accountant and business person my friend offered me a job in her new shop she was planning to open up. I had no idea how to tattoo so I started to practice at home on my brother, family and friends. I was slowly figuring things out. Later on I started to tattoo in this new opened up shop in Slovakia. After the first piece I did I was hooked! Tattooing really just found me. I had never planned on doing anything even remotely like that in or with my life. It was definitely ‘love at the first sight’ and I love it more every day. I am very grateful for this!
How would you describe your style ?
I would say I do ‘funky color’. It's probably the closest way to describe my style. I do enjoy doing 'modern' funky looking designs... A mix of street art and graphic art.. with a bit of realism at the same time. Yet, I am open minded and try new things that are very different from my fetish style. At the moment I am doing more ‘street art’ looking tattoos. I was a bit tired of doing realistic looking designs and I’m getting back to my ‘roots’ now, I totally enjoy graffiti style artwork. I just want to have more fun and freedom in my work!
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What is your artistic approach with each tattoo you are doing ?
With every tattoo I do, I’m learning something new and the level I’m at right now is not defined and never will be. My mind is constantly changing; so for me it’s a very natural process of evolving as an artist and as a person. I do what I feel at that particular moment. Every person is so different and every one of them gives me a different vibe. My main focus is to be able to get into my client’s mind and try to connect with their feelings… My tattoos are fusion. It’s my client’s and my expression of something. There’s a fine line in creating something so delicate and crucial. This is what I pay my respect to. The very act of tattooing is for me a sacred act and I approach it with all my sensitivity. The most important is when I feel I have really pushed my own boundaries. When I come up with something new, when I create something different. When I felt I have moved a bit forward. Then I think I have made the most important and meaningful tattoos for me.
Your universe is very colorful and original, where do you find your ideas and inspirations ?
I admire lots of street artists, fashion designers, painters, photographers, performers ... I particularly like street arts ... That freedom what comes with it ... And I look at anything around me and I think about it in a 'tattoo wise' way. I think how would this particular thing make it into tattoo ... It can be texture ... Shapes ... Colors ... Flow ... I am paying attention to the nature, to ordinary things around me, fashion, books, music ... Pretty much to everything what I am surrounded with. I see the beauty in little things ... It can be all this ordinary things we don’t notice much ... Inspiration also comes from people around me. When traveling, I see new things and get to know different cultures and people. I guess my mind is ‘fresh and young’ and I am just feeling funky!
What do you think is innovative now in tattoo art ?
When it comes to styles I can definitely see a lot of this ‘French’ influence : Art Nouveau, abstract, watercolor etc... It’s becoming more and more popular! There’s lots of European artists who do this kind of thing and now I can see it ‘s becoming popular in the US too. And definitely there’s such a good choice when it comes to tattoo supplies. Some of the tattoo tools are pretty innovative and I can see also very innovative approach in the whole tattoo scene compared to few years ago.
Another thing: there’s these programs/applications on computer where you can create whole design directly on "body" so people can see better how it’s going to look like; it’s in 3D too. Eastern European countries, France, Poland, etc.. I feel like artists coming from those countries are pushing the boundaries. It amazes me to see how far they can go and how they interpret their visions! I believe there are no limits for Art. Creativity should be expressed in every possible way, and that is what describes me as an artist the most.