“My style… I try to keep it classic,” starts Ivan Antonyshev, a traditional tattooer who came all the way from Austin, Texas for the 19th Annual Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention. “I really, really respect classic, traditional tattooing. I gather a lot of inspiration from older stuff I guess.” He takes a second to wipe away excess ink from the piece he’s working on, right in the knee ditch of a fellow tattooer. “Not even just tattoos, but a lot of older paintings. I've always been into art, like fine art and stuff like that. Both of my parents are artists full time, so I grew up with it. My mom’s a conservator of oil paintings, so she does a lot of restoration work and my dad’s a freelance artist. He works in Russia and sells paintings for a living.”
Antonyshev’s upbringing, clearly very heavily influenced by fine art, has remained a major factor in his own creative process as a tattooer. His tattoos, made with clean black lines and a mostly muted color palette, are the result of a literal lifetime of openness and exposure to all sorts of art. “I’ve always been into drawing,” he explains. “I don't have any schooling in it, but I love it. I like Italian Renaissance stuff, Northern Renaissance paintings…. love that stuff. I just always have. I try to go to art museums whenever I can. The one here in Philly is great.”
Museums and classical art aren’t the only things this young artist draws inspiration from, though. In fact, spoken like a true creative, Antonyshev finds influence in even the least likely of places. “We were out getting Chinese food yesterday and they had this hot mustard and this duck sauce, and I was looking at the colors like, ‘these colors go well together.’ I try to gather inspiration from everything I see but it’s a tough question to answer because it’s always changing. Definitely lots of old paintings, museums and shit.” Hot mustard and duck sauce.
Having initially begun his tattoo career in Indianapolis, Antonyshev was given the opportunity to migrate to Austin where he worked at Affinity Tattoo, a popular shop in the heart of downtown, for about a year. From there he moved a few miles away to Mainstay Tattoo, which has been home now for the last two years.
"All of the guys I work with at Mainstay, they’re great. We’re always pushing each other to grow and I always try to surround myself with people who are better than me, so I have room to improve,” says Antonyshev. “If I ever feel like I’m happy with what I’m doing, I feel like I’m becoming stagnant and I never want to be there. The more I tattoo, and I haven’t been tattooing very long, but the longer I tattoo I realize that it really is about community and meeting other artists, and gathering inspiration from them and just talking to them, drawing with them and hanging out. That's probably the most inspiring thing I’ve had the pleasure of doing.”
No stranger to travel, it’s not unlikely that Antonyshev will be coming to a town near you at one point or another. However, if you’re ever in Austin and looking to get tattooed, Mainstay is the place to go. A shop heavily influenced by traditional style but able to execute nearly anything, it’s no wonder Ivan Antonyshev has flourished into the accomplished artist he is behind its doors.
You can keep up with Ivan’s latest work and travel plans on Instagram.