From a young age, Anka Lavriv was passionate about making art. Like most kids, she spent hours drawing and coloring, but it was one unique experience that planted the seed which would eventually grow into a thriving career. “My dad's friend was a tattoo artist and he made me a rotary machine and let me go over his old tattoos and watch him work,” Lavriv recalled.
Even though she was introduced to tattooing early in her life, Lavriv took a meandering path to where she is now. As the Ukrainian artist set up her station, she explained how she made the transition from a freelance illustrator who still needed to tend bar in her off time to becoming a successful tattooer and co-owner of Black Iris Tattoo Studio in Brooklyn.
Over a period of years Lavriv was able to establish a following for her fine art pieces that had been heavily influenced from the black ink lithographs that she adored as a child. Since she had already made her mark as an artist, once she decided to give tattooing a second chance it wasn’t hard to find people ready and willing to let her practice on their skin.
Lavriv quickly adapted to the medium and hit the ground running as a tattooer, working in several shops where she took walk-ins, banged out full-color traditional tattoos and learned the ins-and-outs of the industry before opening Black Iris a little over a year ago — a space that fully represents Anka’s personal aesthetic.
“My biggest influences are Art Nouveau, and I would say artists like Takato Yamamoto, like Vania Zouravliov, like very black and white, detail-oriented stuff,” Lavriv says. “I'm slowly shifting my tattoo work from custom to designs that are closer to my artwork.” Black Iris, a cozy studio in the heart of Brooklyn, is covered in illustrations by Lavriv her co-workers, establishing the shop’s vibe. The drawings of dreamy goddess-like women, nature-inspired mysticism and occult themed pieces lining the walls all share the same traits — clean black lines, heavily symbolic imagery and millions of tiny, tiny dots.
From charming little animal portraits and masterful copies of famous paintings (we see you, Klimt) to intricate floral compositions, it’s safe to say that nothing epitomizes Lavriv’s aesthetic quite like her ethereal depictions of women. We had the opportunity to chat with Anka and watch one of her goddesses come to life for our latest Sessions video.