CookiesThis site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. Read our privacy policy to learn more
Keeper of the Koi: Interview with Tattoo Artist Sergey Buslaev

Keeper of the Koi: Interview with Tattoo Artist Sergey Buslaev

Tattoo Artists3 min Read

In this interview with Tattoodo Ambassador Sergey Buslaev, he talks about inspirations and the importance of tattoo history.

Known for his clean, and bold Irezumi style, Tattoo Amassador Sergey Buslaev was kind enough to give us his time for this exclusive interview. He talks about his work, his heroes, and why it's so incredibly important to acknowledge and give homage to the deep history of the tattoo art form.

What is your artistic background and how did you get into tattooing?

Actually I was a layman in art world. I never attended the school of Arts and no one of my relatives was into it. It was accidental interest during my studied at Military University and was going to become an officer of Russian Army. It was a collective of young men and of course that time me and my comrades started to take interest in tattoos and even invited a real tattooer at night illegally to our army barrack to tattoo us. Then some of my friends noticed that I drawn in my copybook not bad and suggested me to try myself in tattooing everybody instead of that tattooed. I want to thank my comrade in arms for becoming my first model and let me do everything. No I didn’t become a tattooer that moment at ones. It only started that fire in me, that opened a door to my future but I saw it very very narrow. I took more than ten years before my hobby finally pushed out my common engagement.

Most tattooers say that the Japanese style has the most rules...Why were you drawn to the Japanese style of tattooing and what Japanese designs do you most like to tattoo?

The first reason I have chosen this style of course is what I prefer aesthetically. Knowing nothing about rules I felt that in Japanese tattoos there where a base and sequence. I understood I didn’t like what I was doing because of a lack of knowledge and if I want to get a better result I must learn but not techniques of how to tattoo (that thing is easy to learn in couple of years) but what is Japanese tattoo is consisted of. My favorite design is Koi for sure. I have lots of reasons to appreciate it like that. I like everything about carps: the way they look and the way they can be combined with backgrounds and other details, I like koi and waterfall legend and this is understood to every people all over the World. You know Koi is very universal motif for people who are not Japanese and don’t know Japanese history and myths because everybody in this World know how a fish looks. Koi also is one of auspicious symbols in Buddhism and even in Christianity a fish-symbol is very connected to Jesus Christ. You see. It’s simple and international.

What inspires your work? What artists are your heroes?

I am inspired by any tattoos done with classic style and taste. I like to get inspiration in works of Japanese artists. As for tattooers whose approach to the matter I I like there are numerous of them. For example Asakusa Horiyasu, Horikazu, Filip Leu, Ivan Szazi, Miyazo, Mauricio Teodoro, Rico Daruma, Shion, Grime, Horitomo, Horioshi and many many more….

Beyond tattooing, what are you most passionate about? If you weren’t a tattooer what would you be doing?

Answering this question I caught myself answering the previous one! What is other reason for Koi to be my Top Design? Of course because I am a passionate fisher. If I weren’t a tattooer I certainly would become a professional fisher-sportsman.

What does success mean to you? What advice do you have for other artists?

Success for me is being very tired working and being admitted by your colleagues especially when they ask me to tattoo them.  
I see a lot of young artists and a lot of them are talented but one bad tendency is driving me crazy. Most of them know nothing about the roots of our profession, do not know names of that people who brought a World popularity spreading and instruments of modern tattoo industry. For me tattoo equals appreciation and respect. I am certain that without roots one cannot grow the real artist.

2018 is hopefully going to be an awesome you have any travel plans, collabs, projects, or new materials/techniques you hope to work in?

I plan to visit some conventions and take part in them. I am not the one who lives a life on a road and who prefers guest spots. I work at my shop 365 days a year mostly and always glad to invite good artists. My plan is proceed getting tattooed by Ivan Szazi and to do good works as much as I can.

Justine Morrow
Written byJustine Morrow

Social Producer, Journalist, Editor, and Curator for Tattoodo I am here to support you 🌻 IG: @lathe.of.heaven

Find tattoo artists and tattoo shops in top cities