Interview with Kseniya Narutskaya | Realism Style | Belarus 25/09/2020

  Hello Kseniya Narutskaya! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. Please start by telling us something about yourself, your background in arts and how did you end up getting into this business? Did you feel inspired by some tattoo artist or?
I always had an interest in art - my grandfather was an artist and teacher at an art school. I liked drawing since I was a kid, I always liked to see paintings by famous artists. The interest in tattooing appeared in adolescence. At about 20, I first picked up a tattoo gun and made myself a tattoo. It seemed good to me then, but after a while I covered up it by myself. At that time, the works of Nikko Hurtado, Valentina Ryabova and Oleg Shepelenko were my huge inspiration.

Q: Was it hard to learn the basic skills? What type of tattoos you used to do as a beginner? Did anyone help you or you learn the process by yourself?
- What was the most difficult part of getting into this business? What was your biggest challenge?

A: At first I tried to do different styles. Most of all, I liked BN'G works. There were a lot of problems with color works - it was not clear how to achieve high-quality coloring and good healing. There was a lack of knowledge and experience. But intuition and logic saved me, I had a kind of internal understanding of correctness or falsity in my creative experiments. For example, there was some problem, I had an assumption in my head how to solve it, then I looked for an answer on the Internet and, as a rule, everything coincided. I did not do any special training. I had to make all the mistakes myself. The greatest difficulty was searching for my favorite style, in which it would be possible to unlock my potential. Over time, it was found.

Q: Even if someone is talented in arts in general, either drawing, painting, graffiti etc still tattooing is a special skill that requires a lot of patience and dedication. How long took you to gain confidence in your work? Do you see a huge progress from when you were starting?
A: I agree that having talent alone in a field is not yet the key to success. This is daily work and practice. That's the only way the skill hones and grows. The same in tattooing. It requires great patience and perseverance, and not always in comfortable positions of the body. Oil painting helps me a lot in this. Unfortunately, now I don't have much time left for this hobby, I give more and more to tattooing. Confidence that I am on the right way came only over the years. And then I wouldn't say it was 100%. Me, like any creative person, is often visited by doubts about this. But when I scroll down posts with my works for a couple of months/years ago I see the difference in quality, I see an increase in skill. Probably only this removes all doubts.

Q: How much you changed your style and even perception of the whole tattooing process during "trial and error" time?
A: The style has changed drastically. As a beginner, I did not have a certain style. I tried myself in different tattoos. In 2018, I decided that I like realism most of all and I try to improve to this day.

Q: Today, your work looks awesome! I love the color portraits a lot. How long does it take to finish a color portrait? We talk here details and that extra need of matching the same facial expression from the reference image to the skin! That's a process! Hehe
A: Indeed, a lot depends on the quality of the skin. From its density, sensitivity and shade. It must be said that tan or smug skin is not at all suitable for the technique of realism. The number of sessions depends on this factors. I like the oil painting technique most of all, that is, at first general colors and background, the main drawing is made. And then detail is done on top of when there is already a certain main picture. As a rule, a color portrait requires 2-3 sessions, including correction. But everything of course depends on the size of the work and its detail. If the skin is pliable, and the work is not large-scale, then sometimes everything can be done in one session.

Q: Nowadays tattooing is so advanced, not only from a technical aspect, but also, people like lots of creative, unusual designs, which makes me really happy, as a graphic designer myself. We can offer something really cool and unique to the customers. Do you help your clients with some ideas etc? How is the energy around the studio? Some funny moments with the customers you want to share with us?
A: Indeed, in the modern art of tattooing, a lot of directions appeared, not to mention a mix of directions and collabs among tattoo artists. Plus, the development of social networks helps to convey your work to the consumer faster, which significantly contributes to the development of the art as a whole. But at the same time it became more difficult to surprise the viewer, you need to constantly come up with something new that will distinguish you, as an artist, from others. Now the audience is very capricious - this is a fact. Customers come with different ideas, they can not always clearly formulate it, but this is not a trouble, there is me for this. It's enough the client to say a couple of words about his idea, what elements in the work should be, that he would set the direction - horror tattoo, animalism, etc. Then I create a unique individual project, by the way, I never make copies of my own or other tattoo artist's works, we discuss with the customer, we make adjustments, if necessary, and here the draft of the tattoo is ready. But sometimes funny stories happened. One client, for example, asked to make him a tattoo - an evil hedgehog with an angry grin. And the second client first talked about the idea, found out the cost and disappeared. And after 6 months he wrote what can be done with the sucky tattoo on his hand and how much it will now cost to fix it. Although this is rather not a funny story).

Q: As a beautiful, talented young lady, I bet your schedule is overbooked. How do you handle the hectic hours and the appointments? What's the procedure to schedule an appointment and how long (usually) people wait?
A: Yes, there is really a lot of work. I try to have my time to do new projects, leaving space for the art experiments and finish the projects that I started earlier. Fortunately, I have my assistant who helps me share the load and remind me about important things. I can't keep everything in my head. He is engaged in social networks, scheduling, booking tickets and conducts many other things. At the same time, it is not so difficult for everyone to book the session - it is enough to type about this in DM or on my email I never do my bookig list more than a month ahead - the client can forget about the appointed day or change his mind, and not notify me - I cherish my time. If the client comes from another country, then we try to find the bookig at the time assigned by him, because he comes from far away, and the booking with local customers can be postponed a little - it is easier for them to get to me another day.

Q: In Russia there was a huge progress in the last decade when it comes to tattooing, I've seen so many great, new, inspiring artists, it's insane! You people know art! :)) Do you have any favourite colleagues you look up to or hang out/ collaborate on tattoo conventions/guest spots etc?
A: It's true. Over the past 10 years, a whole generation of new creative people has grown. After all, the attitude towards the tattooing has changed. If earlier this was perceived as an element of the criminal world, now it is art, albeit not understandable to everyone. The older generation still has some negative attitude, although not everyone. I have many clients who are far from 45 years old. During Expo you always meet new people. For example, last year in Moscow I met Stas Gromov(@gromov6666). Later in December 2019 it was he who tattoed my neck. We still maintain friendly relations. This year I was in Walter Montero's studio in Germany in Paderborn, everything was very pleasant - a good studio, a friendly working atmosphere and a team. We are frinds with Mat Rule(@matruletattoo), Ryan Smith(@ryansmithtattooist), Yarson(@yarson_tattoo), Ami James(@amijames1) and many other tattoo artists.

Q: You also enjoy painting. I've seen some on your profile, really cool! How much painting is a great way to get some ideas for like a new tattoo project like full sleeve etc? Do you also sale some of them?
A: I really like to paint with acrylic and oil. As I said above, now there is less time for that. Drawing helps me to ventilate my head, to switch from everyday fuss, to be a little alone with myself, like art meditation. And yes, in the process of drawing a project, some ideas about future tattoo drafts can arrive. Oil painting helped me in creating volumes and smooth transitions in tattooing. I moved this skill from one technique to another. While creating a project, I pay a lot of attention to details, sometimes I specifically complicate it to develop my skill. It's like playing with yourself - sure that you can do such difficult work? Therefore, I never sell my projects separately. I don't want to see somewhere in the network a sucky tattoo made from my project.

Q: We are currently stuck a bit with this whole Corona situation. I hope you are doing well and it doesn't affect your creativity so much... How are you doing? What would you recommend to the other artists that are afraid of this situation and it's affecting their livelihood?
A: Of course, Covid also affected the tattoo industry - almost all Expo were canceled this year, and the borders were closed. All planned events for this year had to be postponed indefinitely. There were plans to visit The London Convention and The Brussels, but both were canceled. Now I'm getting ready for next year.
You need to continue to do your business, to improve in it. Covid is not a reason to sit idle. This is the time to take stock of what has been done, and create new plans. That's a respite.

Q: Where are you located? Please write down your contact info and studio location.
A: Now I work in my own studio in Belarus. So far, Europe and the United States are closed to Belarusian citizens.

Molodezhnaia str. 6 Simone Art Studio.
Minskaya oblast

Q: As time goes, do you have any vision for yourself in the future? Do you have any goals as an artist?
A: Thanks to Covid, new goals have appeared. Now we are actively conducting a dialogue on cooperation with Ryan Smith(@ryansmithtattooist), he opens a new studio(@prophecy) in Exeter UK and invited me to be a part of it.
I really like his approach to organizing working time and space. He decided to collect in one place the best tattoo artists such as:
@ bintt
at the same time, everyone will have the opportunity to share skills with each other, to arrange a collab, like a whole tattoo family under one roof. There will be a separate photo zone and a lot of other things. It's all really cool.

Ms. Kseniya Narutskaya Thank you so much for the interview.
Kind regards,
The team