Interview with Julia Penza 07/07/2024

   Hello Julia Penza! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. It really means a lot to have you back here. How long have you been living in the USA? I've been living in the United States for 7.5 years. The political situation in my country was already unfavorable. It's even worse now.

Q: Where are you currently located?
A: I live in South Florida, in Hollywood. My permanent job in Tampa is at Dave Bautista and John Kural's tattoo shop DC Society Ink @dcsocietyink, It takes 3.5 hours to get to work, so I work there several times a week for 10-13 hours and then go home. I also work with Sedation ink in Miami. It is engaged in tattoos under general anesthesia. @sedationink,

Q: How do you like it there?
A: I like my place of residence, so I'm not in a hurry to move to other places yet. And even more so from the US. The country has given me many opportunities, I use each of them, and in return I want to be useful using my talents.

Q: How far your career has progressed since you moved to the USA?
A: When I arrived, I did various temporary work. For a while I worked at the children's center as a teacher of drawing and mental arithmetic. I was good at teaching. Then I decided to try to open my own art school. The discovery coincided with the coronovirus epidemic, which made the work much more difficult. All proceeds were used to cover rent and other expenses. But I did not enjoy state support, which I am very proud of. A random Facebook ad got me into the tattoo business. I didn't expect any accomplishments from it though. I just wanted to learn something new, or maybe it will be useful. After 1.5 years of my work as a tattoo artist, John Kural and Dave Baptista invited me to work in their new shop in Tampa. Six months later, I won my first awards at my first tattoo convention. Any success is very inspiring. So progress has gone very fast. In 3.5 years, I became a popular tattoo artist with international awards and a recognizable style.

Q: What are some of your plans for the near future?
A: In fact, I'm a very creative person and I always have some interesting ideas. Not everything can be implemented at once. So some remain at the level of ideas, and some are in the process. My main idea is now under consideration at the US Patent Center. A year ago, I created a new kind of tattoo needle that would make it easier to work with a shading in black and grey wash portraits. From inept hand control, beginner tattoo artists make 'dirty'/chaotic shading. This is the main problem of beginner tattoo artists. I prepared all the necessary documentation on my own. Now I can only wait. The process consists of several stages and, unfortunately, the review time is very long, about 3 years. In addition, I recently participated in judging at tattoo conventions. I got to judge all the main categories, including the best of day and the best of show. The organizers used 2 judging systems: tokens and score cards. Both systems have their pros and cons. But the drawbacks are many. I shared my ideas with the organizers, and they are happy to hear my feedback. So now I'm developing my own tattoo evaluation system. I am sure that my scheme will achieve a more objective judgment. I also wont't give up on my idea for the art school. I'm a tattoo artist who can and work in all styles. I really like versatility. Not every tattoo artist can boast of it. Usually, everyone chooses a certain direction. Although my soul lies more in color realism and microrealism, I want to be a professional in all styles, even if they are not my main ones. I want to confirm my professionalism with awards from tattoo conventions. I've already started this journey, won awards in different directions, and I don't want to stop.

Q: We are proud to see you as a successful, female artist especially in (still) male dominated profession. How do you feel about this? Do you think we completely 'smashed' the stupid taboos about male vs female type of jobs?
A: I haven't come across such a stereotype. Rather, this stereotype has been broken. However, I often come across the opinion that a tattoo artist should have tattoos. I'm a tattoo artist without tattoos, and I'm not going to do them just to please someone's opinion. That doesn't mean I don't like a tattooed body. There are many reasons. The main one is I don't want to. I just can't imagine myself with tattoos. I like my body as it is. Well, I see no reason to advertise someone else's work on myself. Only my portfolio can talk about my professionalism.

Q: Many would say that you should try modeling etc Honestly did you get some of those super random proposals, that can change your career? Let's not forget, America is a huge market, oftentimes giving so many opportunities.
A: In fact, I am modest in assessing my external data. For me, my achievements carry much more weight. In my opinion, the tattoo business gives you those opportunities. The more you develop your skills, the more visible you become. It's something you can control yourself. I've been offered modeling articles several times. But I don't feel like it's for me. Though it might be worth a try?

Q: I bet you are super busy? Are you available for bookings?
A: I don't complain about being busy. Things are going well. But there is always an influx and a lull. The best way to find out about availability and an estimate is to contact me via Instagram I reply as soon as I see the notification. Since I live quite far from the studio, I only give online consultations via Instagram, Facebook, or SMS. I prefer Instagram. The average waiting time for an appraisal is 1.5-2.5 months.

Q: Even though you are an established artist with big portfolio, I guess it's still important to travel learn from others, work as a guest artist and attend many tattoo conventions. Are you still active or your schedule doesn't allow it?
A: I work very hard. My working day is usually 10-13 hours. I spend my days free from tattooing, designing suitable attachments. Designs also take a lot of time. So there is little free time. But every minute of investing in my work is worth it. In the process of work, ideas are born. Each new work adds to my portfolio and fills me with even more experience. I am proud of my achievements, which my hard building has received. I started participating in tattoo conventions a little over a year ago, in March 2023. The first was Ink the Bay in Tampa. I took the top 2 spots in the Asian inspired and Solar portrait categories. Then the all stars tattoo convention in Miami. At that convention, I received a lot of attention from famous tattoo artists such as Yomiko Moreno, Robert Ernandez, Dave Paulo, Yaniel Mieris, etc. and major tattoo publications. I also competed in Villain Arts in Orlando and took 3rd place in the color XL large category. The organizers noted that they received about 600 registrations for participation in the competition, and as a judging there were participants from the Ink Masters. After that, I was invited to participate in international online competitions of 2 major tattoo editions of DGN Tattoo Magazine and Global tattoo magazine. I won prizes in both competitions. In the DGN Tattoo Magazine competition, I won first place in my favorite microrealism category. The jury included Yomiko Moreno, Stefano Fiato, Alexey Mashkow, Heng Yue. By the way, the jury noted the works that I made just six months or a year later from when I started working as a tattoo artist. Hundreds of tattoo artists from all over the world took part in the competition.
In the Global tattoo magazine competition, I won 3rd place in the Best Composition category. The jury included Silvano Fiato, Eliot Kohek, Gillian Sierbert. The organizers mentioned that it was the largest competition in the 20-year history of their existence. Hundreds of tattoos from artists from 5 continents. After that, the big company Painlesstattoo, which also spotted me at the convention in Miami, invited me to participate in their international competition. This competition also included tattoo artists from all over the world. I managed to win two nominations at once. First place in the category of “Best Cover up” and “Best Tattoo Artist”. The prize was a cash reward of $3,500 and championship belts. After that, they accepted me in their professional team. Now I am also a part of CNC tattoo needles company and Sedation Ink anesthesia. In June 2024, I competed again in Ink the Bay Tampa. I won many awards: Most realistic 1st, Best Female artist 1st, Best cover-up 1st, Best Floral 1st, Best of Day 1st, 2nd, Best Gold 1st, 2nd, Best Character 1st, 3rd, Best portrait 2nd, 3rd, Best chest 2nd. In June 2024, I was the judge at the tattoo convention at the West Palm Beach TCT Art Expo. My plans are to participate more at tattoo conventions as a contestant and jury member. The upcoming conventions are the Golden State tattoo Expo at LA September 20-22 and The All Stars Tattoo Convention in Miami in November, 15-17, where I will also participate as a jury member. Conventions require careful preparation and a lot of effort. So I'm pretty busy until the end of the year.

Q: The American tattoo scene is huge and very diverse. I think it takes a special effort and strong will so one can "risk it all" and come to the USA, really put all their energy and build confidence through hard work and constant learning... so they will be able to match the high demand in quality and creativity. Do you agree? I honestly think it is not easy to succeed in such a big scene, however if "played well" so so rewarding. What are your thoughts?
A: I agree 100%. If you put effort and willpower into it, you can achieve a lot. The main thing is that I realized that you just need to do your job with love, with the desire to improve, without thinking about where the results will lead. You need to be moderately critical of yourself and at the same time satisfied with yourself. There is no need to fear defeat, but neither should there be any anticipation of victory. You just have to do as good as you can.

Q: Your advice for those who want to try their luck in the USA?
A: It's a very difficult path. Looking back, I wonder how I decided to do that. Probably all the success I've achieved was because I've been under no illusions. My move was forced, I didn't build pink castles, I was ready for difficulties. Most likely, this attitude made it possible not to be disappointed in defeats and to rejoice in luck. I know I have a lot of potential, so I won't turn away from that path. I would advise you not to think about failures or overestimate your capabilities, just step by step to your goal, and then the doors will open.

Read our first interview with Ms.Julia Penza on this link.

Ms.Julia Penza Thank you for the interview,
Kind Regards,
Fredrik Lindström