Katya Krasnova: Simple, Bold and Black Tattoos

Katya Krasnova represents that new generation of tattooers that is taking the scene by storm and while her style can be considered as niche, is instead one of today’s tattooing leading styles. Once upon a time a good tattooer used to be able to handle pretty much any style in a walk-in kind of shop, then came custom shops and freehand artists, then tattooers that specialized in a particular established genre. Today is mostly about that very personal style that is recognizable by many, especially thanks to its online presence, and that becomes almost inevitably a trend… so nowadays many new upcoming tattooers are doing exclusively their designs and their own signature style.

It’s the case of Katya’s work, highly recognizable, simple, bold and black tattoos. A minimalistic, basic style, made of palm sized tattoos, many cat designs, sad or badass women and vintage vibes with this kind of imagery she built a little world of her own and almost 80k fans on ig can’t be wrong. Not bad for such a young girl, Katya has her ideas pretty clear when leaving her mark on skin and tshirts around the globe. A very strong mark, and no bullshits. I meet her at the Brooklyn famous Citizen Ink Tattoo, a studio packed with talented artists, where she works by appointment when she is in town.

How old are you and how many years have you been tattooing?
I’m 25, I started doing tattoos when I was 19.

Describe your background growing up and what was your first encounter with tattoos
The first tattoo which I saw was my grandma’s. I never thought and dreamed that I will be doing tattoos one day, although I drew a lot when I was a child, and then studied at the Academy of Art and then again at The Design University. I made my first tattoo when I was 17. Later I had a relationship with a tattoo artist and spent a lot of time in his studio, so I watched the whole process of doing tattoos and eventually knew enough about it. My boyfriend encouraged me to start tattooing and after several months I did… he taught me how to do many things. In the meantime I decided to drop off university and instead started doing tattoos. My first tattoos were unpaid and after the first year of practicing I went on my first tour and I tattooed in different countries. It is the favorite period of my life, I was 21 years old and I traveled all over Europe and worked in all the big cities. I had a lot of fun, like an adventure, it was such an interesting time and it brought me a great deal of experience.

It was also my first job and my first money, which I earned by doing tattoos. I love what I do today.

Coming from Ukraine to America was a little bit of a culture shock for you, or not? What is really different between the two countries? What do you miss of your country?
I can’t say that I felt a cultural shock in America because I was in different countries before it. I traveled a lot with my parents when I studied at school. Ukraine was part of USSR and that caused many repercussions in the character of people after several generations. There is corruption, that is why my country cannot develop as any other civilized countries. People are different in the sense that they would not smile just for the hell of it, or try to be polite or apologize as much as we see in America. People are very serious and little bit sad in Ukraine. But I really miss my parents and my cat, I have not seen them for almost a year.

Katya Krasnova by Elvia Iannaccone Gezlev
Katya Krasnova by Elvia Iannaccone Gezlev

How is the tattoo scene developing in Ukraine compared to the US?
There is a slow development of everything and tattooing isn’t an exception. There are no open studios with walk ins, almost all studios are private or by appointments only. Nevertheless, I know great tattoo artists from Ukraine, who achieved world famous status in their own style.

Where does your idea to tattoo cat designs come from? And where do you take inspiration for your designs?
My first sketches were based on the classic pictures of Sailor Jerry and Bert Grimm, but then the main character became the black cat Ninja. I started with sketches of cats and continue to this day but their style is a little different. For the girls and everything else I’m inspired by vintage postcards, books and illustrations.

You are one of the first few tattooer I remember coming up with a very bold and minimalistic black style… Why did you choose that direction?
When I started as a tattoo artist I saw different kinds of tattoos: from new school style to realism and graphics but I loved simple black & white tattoos, with a large amount of black. I think that such tattoos look better on skin. In my opinion, that contrast is more important than details elaboration, tattoos will not lose their own beauty and they will look like new as the first time.

tattoo by Katya Krasnova
tattoo by Katya Krasnova

Which tattooers you like and respect and that inspire you?
I really like @seanfromtexas, @adamvunoir, @paradise.

How do you like working and living in NYC and what are your professional plans for the future?
NYC is a very inspiring and motivating place and it gives a lot of opportunities… Here you can achieve anything if you really want it. I live and work in New York for 10 months a year and now I understand that I want to travel more and work in different countries and cities. So my plan is to go in tour to different countries this year.

What are your favourite things to do when you’re not tattooing?
I like to spend my time in the outdoors, hiking and sleeping in a tent.

Follow Katya on Instagram: @katya_krasnova