Helen is a tattooist who is originally from Russia and has a very particular style, extremely decorative, but also charged with an energy that is mystical and spiritual – influenced by Indian and Tibetan art.
In this brief interview she tells us about her pieces and her inspiration, introducing herself, in all her talent and splendour, to the readers of Tattoo Life.
Hi Helen, would you like to introduce yourself to the readers of Tattoo Life?
My name is Helen and I am from Russia. I’ve been drawing on skin for the past five years. I grew up in a creative atmosphere as my father was a touring musician and that gave me an unique opportunity to experience different places from different perspectives. From childhood I was attracted to ancient architecture. Doors and windows decorated with ornaments, sculptures on rooftops and symbols are some of the things that caught my attention, I still have the photographs.
Where does the inspiration for your compositions come from?
I have been interested in the history of art for as long as I can remember, especially in what we call “primitive” art from the non-European world. For inspiration I always look at architecture when I’m in a new country, a huge number of amazing details can be found in some stucco ornaments or gilding, natural elements, strange flowers and plants, historical museums with artefacts of cultures from around the world, traditional costumes, weapons and textiles give me inspiration for many days ahead.
How would you define your tattoos and how did you develop your style?
Mostly I do tattoos under the influence of Indian and Tibetan art. This is very close to me and is connected with my love for ancient tribal jewellery and traditional Indian painting. If you study history, its cultural influence changes you.
You often do really large tattoos: how do you plan these pieces with your clients?
About project planning: (for example, the back) I do not only focus on the design, but also on the anatomy of each person, I need a photo which I can draw on and a short conversation in a relaxed atmosphere. This conversation I see as a step in creating the sketch. I like the combination of thick lines and many small details, this creates a certain contrast and depth.
When I think about the design I never consider the use of colour, it is always contours and shapes. The contrast of black on skin is very strong.
Can you tell us about the tattoos you’ve got yourself?
I done several tattoos on myself, mudras hands and a small ornament, but now it has been modified into a large project. My body is mostly filled with hidu ornaments, mihendi, Japanese traditional waves and black work. It’s still in progress.
Is there a network of tattoo artists with whom you exchange opinions, ideas and tips?
I have a couple tattoo artist friends with whom I can talk about tattooing and exchange ideas, although we usually prefer to discuss other things from the field of art and music or even interior items. The creative process cannot take place under any pressure – this is one of the reasons why I don’t work in large tattoo shops with a large number of people, simply because it defocuses and distracts me.
What are you doing during this lockdown?
I am using this period as a time to recharge and meditate. I have my creative hobbies and because of internet my research on artefacts can continue. I also enjoy reading books.