We at TattooFinder.com are ecstatic to bring you our new series of artist interviews. First up is Anton, hailing all the way from the Russian Federation! A true artist in every sense of the word, Anton is a fan of different forms of media and inspirations. We won't spoil it here, so read on. . .
TATTOOFINDER.COM: Who are other artists that have inspired your artwork and/or currently inspire your work?
ANTON: Throughout my life, I've been inspired by various styles, schools, and artists. For instance, I was deeply stricken and fascinated by Boshch's paintings. Every morning I used to sit in my Granddad's library grasped by the mystical surrealism of the medieval genius. From that moment on, I started to draw other worlds and their creatures. Was it a coincidence? As I grew up I admired impressionists, especially Van Gough and his personality. Having read his life story I obtained a deeper understanding of him. After having started to make tattoos seriously, H. R. Giger became one of my faves. Nobody will argue that his contribution to tattoo culture has been huge. His very style inspired me in and of itself, but it also me to develop my own authentic style. Now I'm closely involved in art, and study contemporary artistic tendencies. That's why it's hard for me to highlight specific names; there are many who inspire me. Just a few might be: Antony Gormley, Anish Capoor, Wim Delvoye.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: How did you develop your artistic skills?
ANTON: I've been drawing since the age of 3. I guess it was my Granddad who cultivated the love of art in me (he was a good amateur artist as well, but chose to become a pilot). That's why I entered the school of arts, then Stroganov's Institute of Industrial Arts where I studied design. It was there that I started making tattoos and tattoo flash. Many a medium I tried but what is most essential is that I always do everything in my own style.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: What do you think your Granddad would say today about the tattoo artwork you create?
ANTON: It’s curious that you asked – the other day I made a tattoo based on my Granddad’s design! It was for my cousin, his granddaughter. It was composed of beautiful, graphic zebras. Unfortunately he’s no longer with us but he would be astonished that some of his pictures came in handy this way. He was a very creative person and he would definitely approve of and understand my art.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: Besides creating tattoo designs, what other artistic mediums do you like to work with?
ANTON: I paint, and make sculptures and other art objects. I'm concentrated on the latter at the moment. From time to time I do airbrushing (cars, bikes, and yachts), and apply it in my artworks as well. I feel free in stencil art. And what I do for tattoos I sometimes use in my art: paintings, graphics, and sculpture. The process is integrated, which is what I like most of all. I also work with my bosom friend, Lia Shell who is also an artist with TattooFinder.com.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: It seems that you are pretty fond Lia Shell. It seems in recent TattooFinder.com artwork additions from both of you that there are common themes. How do you two work together, and inspire each other?
ANTON: Actually we live together and influence each other in the way we see the world. It’s the same way for both of us. Although our styles differ from each other at first glance, we may take close themes: they coincide in our wish to investigate the world around us. One of our latest views on tattoos: we greet high art features in any creative field, but in tattoo art in particular we avoid vulgarity. Of course we also inspire each other first by ideas, and second by practical example.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: Are there other artistic mediums that you would like to try someday (i.e.: plaster, glass, animation, etc.)?
ANTON: Over the course of this interview which took some time -- as we live in Russia and you are based in the U.S. – I tried and succeeded in stained glass mastery (frame-work stained glass art). Now, I’m not against monumental painting, in the future I want to master fresco and some restoration techniques as well as woodcarving. In general my credo is to take up various fields because I’m inclined to alter my activities. It’s the passion of my soul. Thus I obtain versatile development and I love the process of learning something new and overcoming stagnation.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: Do you have a specific environment that you like to immerse yourself in to create your art (music, lighting, mindset, etc.)? If so, describe your ideal art creation environment.
ANTON: It is music, particularly electric: IDM, psy-trance, ambient. Also, being close to nature, fresh warm air, trees out of the window, and having my dearest person close with me.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: How has your artwork changed/developed over time?
ANTON: Well, at first I drew stick figures. It was a long time ago, and I don't work like that now. Besides, by gaining technical skills and handling certain instruments over time I've developed a professional approach: I plot a concept, work it out in sketches and realize it is actually a series of designs. It's not a mechanical action, it's the way I tune and concentrate on my work. As soon as it happens, nothing will stop me.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: What would be the most meaningful compliment that someone could give to you about your artwork?
ANTON: "It's a breakthrough! A new word in art is uttered. There has never been anything like this." I hope to reach such a level and live up to it.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: Who do you look to for critiques of your artwork, and what feedback to you is useful?
ANTON: The people on the same wavelength as me; the people who understand what I do -- mature, talented artists with the right values. To me, the best reward is when my art catches peoples' minds.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: What, in your opinion, constitutes “art”?
ANTON: "Art" is what provokes thinking, experiencing, feeling something new and what eventually blows the top.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: How did you initially start drawing tattoo designs and what first piqued your interest?
ANTON: I'd started drawing tattoo flash before performing tattoos themselves-- since 1996. It was a world where everything consisted of ornaments and patterns and I realized at once what it led to. Unfortunately books, magazines, and the internet were not available to me. Tattoo masters at that time had to create everything on their own; it used to be almost totally underground in Russia. The lack of materials helped to form my own specific style.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: What artistic tools do you use to create your designs?
ANTON: Graphite pencils, liners, Copic felt-tip pens, colored pencils, Photoshop and Illustrator with a Wacom sketchpad.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: What tips/suggestions would you give to someone who wants to draw tattoo designs professionally?
ANTON: Try to work on developing your own style. Patience, a stable hand, and the courage to create something new all help.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: How would you describe your own style in tattoo design creation now?
ANTON: Organics, new forms of life, and at the moment, bionics.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: How would you describe what constitutes a “great” tattoo design?
ANTON: When it is bold and unusual, bright and up-to-date.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: If you have ever met someone who was wearing a tattoo of a design that you created, what was that like for you?
ANTON: I've had this happen more than once. I feel a sort of resonance (at a distance) with the person; it's an interesting feeling.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: How did you get started tattooing?
ANTON: I was just eager to get into the subject, and took an interest in tattoo culture and in drawing flash. There were no tattoo machines for sale in Russia, so I had to make one for myself. I took the engine of a tape player, and I sharpened a guitar string to make a needle. Drafting ink served as a substitute for tattoo ink. I met Alex Kitaetz (translated as the “Chinese Man”) who is one of the oldest Moscow tattoo masters. I started working with him and he sold me professional equipment from the U.S.A. Later it got easier!
TATTOOFINDER.COM: How did you develop your tattooing skills (apprentice, self-taught, school, etc.)?
ANTON: I started on my own, and then Alex helped me by showing some technical tricks. Many things I figured out on my own.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: What do you most like and/or dislike about tattooing?
ANTON: I like large works that are stylish and conceptual like they have traditionally in Japan. I hate vulgarity, porn, gore, and the like.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: What do you feel people most need to know before getting tattooed?
ANTON: That it's impossible to stop once you get started!
TATTOOFINDER.COM: What makes a tattoo unique?
ANTON: First of all it should be based on a unique design, then a masterful performance whose plot and sense should be designated by the person who has the tattoo.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: What do you think makes TattooFinder.com a leader in online single tattoo design sales?
ANTON: It is the convenient site navigation system according to a theme needed, TattooFinder.com’s high rating and good reputation, and also the huge amount of varied artists and their designs. Commercial and additional endeavors help as well. It’s become a monster in its field since the company was established.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: Some people say/believe that everything on the Internet should be free (presumably including tattoo design reference). As a creator of tattoo design artwork, how would you respond to this?
ANTON: Naturally I'm not in favor of designs being free on the Internet. I wouldn't draw the designs I do if they were not bought. Free things are usually of low quality. I sometimes come across my older work in free catalogs, because once they were stolen and weren't signed with my name (which of course, is still illegal). It's a shame. Art could be free in some situations perhaps, but only if its creator's name is promoted.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: How do you think tattoo culture and acceptance varies from country to country?
ANTON: In my country, tattoo culture has negative roots. That's why most peoples' attitudes are negative (particularly those who are from older generations). For the last decade the situation has changed a bit but it's still all about Moscow and St. Petersburg. Tattoos for most Russians are associated with jail and criminals. The latter actually have their own aesthetics and symbolism which is a separate, huge topic. The Russian Orthodox Church considers tattoos to be a "sign of the devil". Overall, tattoos are becoming intensely popular and farther spread as far as I can see.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: What was your first tattoo and your motivation behind getting it?
ANTON: I wanted it to be really cool! I thought that nothing could be more interesting and individualizing (my look at the time: piercings all over, long black hair, shaved temples. It was a long time ago).
TATTOOFINDER.COM: What are some of your life goals?
ANTON: Gaining harmony and understanding of all.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: If you could easily change anything in your life right now, what would it be?
ANTON: I would start traveling all over the world.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: What is something significant about yourself that most people don’t know and that you would be comfortable sharing?
ANTON: I have a triangle of three dots in the iris of my left eye and a blond spot in my hair on the back of my head-- features that I was born with. I wouldn't escape from Interpol!
TATTOOFINDER.COM: How do you define success for your life?
ANTON: It's when you are known for your outstanding art and have recognized your boundless abilities.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: What is something that scares you that you don’t think scares most other people?
ANTON: A day-by-day job in an office.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpower(s) to be?
ANTON: Ability of self-cloning to perform a multitude of actions simultaneously while retaining one consciousness.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: If you had to choose, what three things (aside from people) would you save if your house caught on fire and why?
ANTON: Hard disk drives with information, tattoo machine, and airbrush.
TATTOOFINDER.COM: Anton, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. Best of luck as you continue to make incredible artistic creations!
Check out more of Anton's tattoo designs and read his bio!