Interview with Grigorii Butrin | Realism Style | Russia 20/04/2023

  Hello Grigorii Butrin! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. We really appreciate. Please start by telling us something about yourself and how did you end up working as a tattoo artist? Do you have any formal art training like an art school? Hi guys, thanks for this opportunity, I've been following you since 2016, it’s honor for me. I’ve been drawing all the way through school and performed at city/school drawing contests, and I continued in medical college. While being in my last year of college, I started doing tattoos. My mother helped so much and after graduating from college I realized that I want to dedicate my life to art and began to do it professionally.

Q: Even the most talented people who have good drawing skills can suck at tattooing at least in the beginning. It takes a lot of patience, trial and error to figure out the process, in my opinion. Did you have any help from someone?
A: Yes, drawing skills are not the only ticket for success, without experience, and analysing the process is impossible. Sure I met a lot of artists who helped me. One of them is (Alex Oberov). I was on his Master class and it boost me to work in my style. Also in 2016 I joined «ZABITIE» Tattoo studio in Moscow, and good artists from there helped me a lot, to name a few, @timurbulatov_ (Timur) and @koyotsurok (Konstantin) explained me a lot of technical stuff and proper composition.

Q: If you were starting all over again today, what would you do differently?
A: I think if I was starting today, the first thing I would do, is, I'd go to some studio and concentrate on professional art and to not waste my time in a hobby shit.

Q: Even though it's challenging to build a portfolio, gain confidence, still there has to be something that motivates the artist. What was it for you? What kept you going?
A: My brother was one of my first customers, when I started, and he believed in me. He said that I have to keep going, to not give up. And few months later he was gone, and when I'm thinking about how hard is growing up, I think about him, and do it because of him.

Q: Oh the first few tattoos, do you remember them? What type of designs you use to do as a beginner and how did you "scale up" artistically?
A: The first one I remember of course, it was a classical old school anchor. I found the picture on Google, it was terrible. I had academicall drawing lessons from Alexander Ryzhkin, and I was always searching for good references.

Q: Tattoo realism is one of my favorite tattoo styles. The best and most "unforgiving" style... hah no edits no mistakes, no cover ups. Precision and perfection is the "bare minimum" here. Sometimes this expectation can create pressure, but in time I believe artists get super comfortable and they love it. Your thoughts on tattoo realism as a style?
A: Yes the process is a nightmare if you don’t have any experience, but after some time with practice you start to get addicted to it. I think it is a classic style. Before I started tattooing, for me graywash realistic tattoos were someting special, it was before realism was popular. And its one of the basic styles like an old school or line work, but you can make it in a different variations.

Q: Is it something you will stick to or you plan to experiment with different styles but keep tattoo realism as you main creative direction?
A: I make experiments with a fine line and color realistic, to add some new elements in my style.

Q: I love the portraits. I love how you mix both black and white ink so the details are like a highlight which gives a really nice overall effect. It's almost like a photoshop effect but it's real. Amazing work Grigorii!
A: Thanks a lot, really appreciate it.

- How much proper aftercare is a key role here even after the tattoo is healed?
Is very important, you can’t just go to solarium like before and you have to take care of your skin with a proper aftercare body cream. If you want your tattoo to look good, even after 10-15 years.

Talking about healed tattoos, my theory is, if the tattoo is really nicely done (technically speaking) when it heals it will still look good. But oh well, we all love that fresh ink, just made tattoo! Haha
Depends also on the skin type. Some can be perfectly maded, but ruined with dry skin or healed without recommendations. But yes fresh tattoos look magical haha. Always loose a 15-20% of contrast after healing, but regardless, with proper ink usage, the artist can do a great job.

Q: Have you ever re-do some tattoos? I'm not talking cover ups, just like "refresh" ?
A: Yes, but not really like it, and also not every tattoo can be refreshed, sometimes it's impossible. Because when you put more ink under skin, you can make scars after old tattoo much bigger, and it looks ugly. I always advise my customers to go for a few laser sessions.

Q: As we said, precision and high quality only... What type of designs are the most challenging to work on, people's portraits, animals or other?
A: For me is Anime pictures haha, or some cartoon characters, not typical elements in black and gray realistic.

Q: Hm, do you feel like sometimes you lack creative freedom? Or even realism can be fun and playful, like you can still come up with ideas and create something original?
A: Yes, but you always have freedom, if I open Instagram, I see a thousands variations of realistic style, depends only on your creativity.

Q: The angel/grave tattoo... the back tattoo... Omg Grigorii!! It is AMAZING! So, so beautifully done. That's my favourite tattoo so far... How long it took you to finish this masterpiece?
A: Thanks a lot. It was made in 4 sesssions, and it will take one more to finish. The story behind this work... This lady make buildings and places that are very important for her family, and this angel is a memorial with dates of family members who are gone. A bit sad, and this is why it's a bit gothic.

Q: Tattooing is a very responsible job but is also one of the most rewarding too. Tattooing is a gift you have and a gift you give - everyone is happy to get that cool tattoo from you. So there's a mutual respect and remembrance. I think this dynamic is very special. What's your opinion?
A: It is amazing to make someone happy, also one of the reason I kept going this way. And a lot of people you work with, gonna remember you, some of them can become good friends. And all of them trust you, and everyone is special and have their own story.

Q: If you were not a tattoo artist, what would you do? Do you have any other interests?
A: That’s a really hard question. In college I really loved chemistry, and was good in it. Maybe a scientist haha But I think if not tattoo artist, I prefer video making and photography, or a Graffiti art.

Q: Please write down the studio location, your contact email and socials.
A: My Instagram

Q:A few motivational words for those who want to try getting into this business?
A: Draw, draw, draw and learn photography/video making.

Mr.Grigorii Butrin Thank You for the interview,
Kind Regards,
Fredrik Lindström