Interview with Oleg Romanov | Realism Tattoo Style | Russia 05/04/2023

  Hello Oleg Romanov! Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for our readers. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. What inspired you to get into tattooing? Hello, thank you for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself. I come from a small town in Russia where there was nothing much to do and when I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time on the street, that's it. It was the 2000s. MTV came to us then, I saw clips of cool guys, skateboarding and graffiti, and we got carried away exploring new areas of the city and bombing clumsy graffiti with dad's paint, and so I made many friends. One day I came across a tattoo book in my hand and there were drawings of a tattoo machine and I made it from what it was, put it in my pocket and went to look for a victim to get a tattoo)) I was 13 years old.

Q: When did it all start? Was it difficult to learn the basics? Did you get help from someone?
A: It all started in earnest in 2010 when I decided so. I will do it professionally and only that. I already had an idea from different books about the tattooing process, but it was nonsense and therefore I had to study everything myself step by step, I again made my second machine, but it was already induction. I don’t remember where I got it, but it was not that bad and made good soft shadows and dense shading. It was not suitable for lines. Since my school years I dreamed of being a professional tattoo artist and deep down I understood that I need to be able to draw well in order to make high-quality tattoos (then I had not decided yet which style and did not know that I would do realistic tattoos) but I was convinced that I needed an art education. So at the age of 24 I entered a full course at an art institute and moved to another city to develop myself. It was 2011. step by step I studied the craft of tattooing and did everything in a row to earn a living and for my friends I do interesting projects that are difficult for me, thus getting the development of the skill for free. I wrote down in a notebook everything that I did in the session, what paint I worked with, what needles , voltage, time, always photographed and studied my work, but I had little experience and I did not see cool tattoos, so I grew slowly. I talked with local tattoo artists who were already experienced and did much better than me, but I didn't receive so much help from them, they did not help me grow or they simply did not know how to explain something to me. In 2013 I visited the first tattoo festival in Moscow and then I was seriously upset. I saw how cool and high-quality tattoos can be, there were also foreign masters who made perfect old school tattoos. Then they were fashionable, but at the same time it motivated to move on.

Q: You are very talented so I doubt it took you long to understand your creative direction. I see you like to do realism tattoos. You have mastered it. I love the dot detail that I see in almost every tattoo of yours. Very interesting and cool effect. It's almost like a painting, and the skin is the canvas. Tell me more about your style. Have you always been interested in realism?
A: Thanks a lot. But of course it was not always like this and even at this moment I'm not completely satisfied with myself, I am still hungry for knowledge. As bequeathed to us by Steve Jobs. Not much is not enough, but my total work experience is already 13 years. The technique and style in which I work now came to me relatively recently. Around 2015 or 2016, I noticed Dmitry Troshin ( if you can specify @mistertroshin , now he is already a top master and I just fell in love with the technique and his style. Therefore, it was he who influenced my decision to work as I am now working. I'm very grateful to him that he helped me analyze and improve my work in correspondence... I liked to draw realistic pictures on paper at the institute at the same time, I never learned to work with color, so I am a graphic person. This influenced my choice to do only black white tattoos in realism in the magnificent technique of whipshading using only 3 rl.using thin needles. I can easily do anything so the tattoo heals perfectly and the look will remain for a ong time, just like when the day I did the tattoo. That's why my passion is to make clear detailed works where everything is clear and understandable to the millimeter and where and what to do is.. even when doing big projects like the back or torso I use max 5 rl to keep the effect texture.. i just love it.

Q: Details! Very important. Even in a black and white tattoo, it is important to create a good color balance and know how to combine the design with some interesting elements such as a background or something else that will make the portrait more unique and personal. Do you draw for each client before the session, or do you design spontaneously during the session?
A: You are damn right that a black and white tattoo should be contrasting and look harmonious on the skin and I'm still experimenting with it. I am know where the dark place should be darker and where the bright place should be lighter. I never drew sketches for tattoos, except sometimes I outlined projects that were difficult for me to better understand how they would look. Now I prefer to make projects in photoshop or on ipad individually for each client, most often I do some kind of draft sketch-layout before the session. I collect high-quality photo materials, and already on the day of the session, we spend 30-60 minutes or an hour with the client to get a cool option that they will like. When the project is big like back, sleeve or leg tattoo, we meet in advance (I'm interested in that) and spend a couple of hours to create the design.

Q: Precision is more than required here! I think sometimes it can create pressure, especially for new artists. There is no undo and edit button here, everything is expected to be done perfectly. What is the most difficult tattoo you have done?
A: It may be a small tattoo, but very detailed. Yes, a tattoo is such a thing that it does not forgive mistakes, that's why I studied classical drawing in order to understand the shape of objects, and the tattoo machine acts only as a tool to draw a picture on the skin. The tattoo technique gets better every time and at the moment the clients who come to me, trust me. They look at my finished works, so they can imagine the final result. Of course people are worried before the first session but at the end of the day they say that the tattoo looks better than they imagined and it is very nice. What shakes me is that, at the moment I understand what I'm doing and what the result will be after healing. When I was just honing the technique, it was emotionally difficult to do serious work. It was very difficult to do huge projects such as the back tattoos or the sleeve or the leg tattoos because I couldn't immediately see the finished result, I had to wait until everything heals completely. You can work very hard on a portrait or a small object for hours, it’s very exhausting. But I love doing detailed tattoos, they look divine, although they take a lot of time. For example, once I did one session of a skull tattoo and yes, but at the same time I did a small but very detailed chain, the client wanted as many details as possible and I was satisfied.

Q: Longest tattoo session?
A: I don't like long sessions because attention drops and my productivity drops and can affect quality. It is 5-6 hours. There were cases when clients came from other cities and we worked 12 hours for a tattoo. It's very tiring.

- How do you cheer up your clients when the session lasts several hours?
I can always take a break if the session last too long, we take a break every hour or 2, drink tea, coffee, have lunch together, someone goes out to smoke, I never mock my clients.

Q: My favorite tattoo is the girl with 100 dollars, what kind of gangster stuff is that? haha awesome tattoo! Who came up with this idea?
A: Oh yes, thank you very much, this idea is very cool and I fulfilled it with pleasure, Despite the fact that she looks genster, her owner is a sweet girl who courageously endured several sessions, initially the idea was only a female portrait and a burning 100 dollar bill, but in the process we realized that we need to fill the whole space and added casino chips in a place that looks very cool, of course, this is the result of our joint work with her.

Q: What are the weirdest tattoo requests you've had?
A: Good question, now I am happy to do cool projects and choose only what I am interested. I know how it will look and clients trust me. I noticed one feature that the higher the price for the session, the more adequate people come to you, at the beginning of my journey there were calls with questions on any places I get a tattoo and I immediately understood that we were talking about an intimate place of a man or woman, I immediately said that "there"))) I do not work. This is only because it is not possible to do something interesting and beautiful there, And one day the director of a porn actress called me with a request to make a tattoo of all intimate places like an octopus or something else, of course I got scared and refused.

Q: I bet you love your job! It's not just a way to pay bills. Your love and dedication for this is evident. I love that you have your own @romanovrotary tattoo equipment. Please tell me more about it, like how did you come up with the idea to create your own equipment, when did it all start, etc.
A: Yes, I am obsessed with a tattooing and I can’t spend a day without work. This is my way of life now. Initially, when I started getting a tattoo, I created a machine for myself only because there was nowhere to buy it, and I didn’t have any money at all to buy it, in the process of development I bought various new tattoo equipment and spent most of my income on it and thought that now I’ll start making tattoos like a god with the help of a new and expensive tattoo machine, but everything was wrong and now they are in a box covered with dust. When I was working on my style, I came across the most common direct drive rotary tattoo machine, but with a large needle stroke, and I liked them despite the fact that they were not fashionable and expensive. It had a huge needle stroke of 5 mm at that time, I liked everything except the design. It put pressure on my hand and the clip cord dangled awkwardly all the time, interfering with small details. In 2019 I decided to make a cool comfortable case for myself, I left the same huge needle stroke of 5 mm and put a powerful english motor there that works cool even on low voltage. It all gave me the ability to make cool dots in the style of whipshading and it all heals great. It works great on thin stripes, dots or fat fat outline on the ass, easily paints with huge magnum needles and all this in one bottle) in general, it turned out to be so cool in my opinion that I decided that others also have the right to use it for their own purposes. But I prefer to say that my tattoo machine is not a universal tool for all types of tattoos, but most of all it is ideal for the purest whipshading and those who have purchased it agree with me 100%. The easiest way to find out more about this is my instagram @romanovrotary. You can also place an order by writing to me in direct. I ship worldwide where there is mail, feel free to ask me more questions.

Q: What makes @romanovrotary different (better) from the other tattoo machines?
A: Romanovrotary is created ESPECIALLY for realistic graphic tattoos in black and gray, created by a practicing tattoo artist @tattooromanov. The stroke of the needle is 5 mm - it will give you maximum control over the process of tattooing even small details. You can easily make a clear outline, dots and whipshading. Weight 125 gr. so that you do not have to "rub" the pigment into the skin. The design of the machine is "direct drive", It does not have any springs and additional hype decorative elements. A “hard” hitch of the bar with an eccentric will give a clear blow, and the needle will leave as much pigment as needed, will not overload the skin, which will positively affect the healing of even small details, proofs of my tattoos, which are detailed to the maximum. Screw "holder" - in front and rounded so that the "custom lambs" sticking out from the side do not put pressure on the hand and do not distract from work. And of course, the design and ergonomics are, in my opinion, brought to the ideal, the machine lies in the hand and does not hang in the air so that you won’t even notice the protruding power wire. Check out yourself.

Q: Always busy? How do you deal with daily pressure and busy schedules?
A: Yes! for the last four years my schedule is very tight, I try to have a weekend off work at the beginning of each month but there are a few people who urgently need to get tattooed. Time with my family, I don’t get tired of my work, because I practically draw for myself and still get paid for it)) but I can’t leave my wife and son without attention, otherwise why do we need all this.

- How the booking work and how long is the waiting period?
Usually people write to me on various social networks where we discuss the idea and cost, and if everything suits everyone, then I sign up the client after the deposit, usually it goes 1-2 months ahead, it depends on the season. In summer the queue can be up to 3 months ahead but my clients are ready to wait for me.

Q: Please write down your studio address, email address and social media.
A: Now I live and work in Russia in my own private studio in the city of Vladimir. All social networks where you can contact me here: Instagram @tattooromanov and @romanovrotary. Russian social networks: and Youtube Tik tok

Q: Now, post-Covid, we are all back to normal. God bless! Do you travel a lot? For example, participation in tattoo conventions, guest places for tattoos, etc?
A: Yes, it's great that the pandemic subsided, and people began to get sick less and all enterprises began to work. Before that, I traveled a lot in Europe as a guest, and when we heard that a pandemic had begun in China, none of us seriously believed that everything would be like this. But after 5 days everything was closed and I barely managed to get home. I have participated in some tattoo festivals before but I think that I don’t really like it, often there is no entertainment and working in an uncomfortable position without the right lighting and equipment is not cool. But I love to travel, especially I like England, I have been there several times and every time feels like the first time. I visited many cities in Europe - it's all very inspiring, the architecture and the city's atmosphere, the communication with colleagues, you can exchange experiences and learn some small chips that will affect the quality of your work. Traveling makes time slower.

Q: Sometimes getting a tattoo can be painful, but it's worth it. But also tattoing someone a wonderful thing. I feel like giving someone a tattoo is about being able to give them a beautiful tattoo, and as a return they honor you with their trust, how cool right? What do you value most in your work?
A: You are absolutely right, tattooing is an exchange of emotions and energy, and we do not sell a tattoo drawing, but the emotions that the client experiences from it. Of course, I like communication with my clients, they are all different and everyone has different life experiences that they can share with me. Some of them can help me in the future with what I lack and it's valuable, let's call it networking) ) BEFORE getting into tattooing, I was very timid and shy, but in order to better understand my clients, I learned to speak and formulate thoughts so that it was pleasant to talk and communicate, thanks to the great practice of communicating with clients, especially in English, my timidity disappeared and I am always interested in starting a new conversation with a new person, I'm all for communication!

Q: Would you change something, maybe try a different tattoo style?
A: Yes, I dream of creating a new unique style, so that anyone looking at a person who has my tattoo, they will know it was me who did it. I read different books on composition on presentation, stylization, and I try to introduce different chips, but unfortunately there is no single guide for creating a recognizable style, they say it comes with practice, but I definitely want to continue working with one needle so that the texture of dots in black and white remains.

Q: Russia, oh Russia, the winter dreamland. I was in Moscow and I was like... I don't want to go home. How is the tattoo scene growing there? I saw really great artists. what is your opinion?
A: Yes, Moscow is an interesting city and very popular, I liked it there when I lived there, the winter season in Russia is not cool, at least for me, but nevertheless, in northern cities people get tattoos no less than in southern cities. Moscow has gathered a lot of talented tattoo artists from all over Russia who are top masters in the world and all tattoo artists know them, but more and more often they leave Russia abroad because the cult of tattooing is still higher than ours. Of course, tattooing is developing in Russia, but in my opinion, the purchasing power of quality tattoos in Russia is lower than, for example, Europe, England or America, at the same time, many cool new masters appear who expand the boundaries of understanding the quality of tattoos and people begin to understand that quality things should and can cost relatively expensive. It is better to do it once qualitatively and beautifully than to pay twice so that you have a partak redone.

Q: What would you say to all the young people who read this interview and try to get into this business?
A: I would recommend not listening to anyone who says that you will not succeed, you want this - try, train and no matter how many masters in the world there are for each new master there is a job and a client. Work as hard as you can to hone your skill until you understand what you are doing. Do not rush anywhere when doing a tattoo, even if the client scolds you for it, try to do it with high quality. In order to grow quickly, you need to determine the style in which you will work from the early days. For example, in realism, you can achieve a good quality of work in a couple of years. Now the whole world is open, there are a lot of videos on YouTube and a lot of posts from top masters around the world on Instagram, look a lot at those you like, copy them on paper, on rubber skin to understand how they do it. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill, you have to plow, but wisely, analyze every time what you have done and you will come to success.