Interview with Ivan Nevsky

Hello Ivan Nevsky! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. What made you feel like tattooing would be a great job for you? I'm from a small town in Russia. Growing up, my teachers would constantly say I wasn’t talented or good enough and that I was destined for a low paying, manual job. I believed this, accepted it and continued with my studies. When I was sixteen I got my first tattoo, I don’t recommend this, wait until you are of the legal age. I was fascinated by the process and intrigued by the idea of having a creative career. I soon became obsessed with tattoo art, and would spend hours on social media researching different artists, styles and designs.

Q: How it all started? Did anyone help you? Was it hard to learn the basics and what type of tattoos you use to do as a beginner?
A: When I was sixteen I started my apprenticeship with my friend who was already working in the industry. I found the first few months terrifying, it was a whole new challenge and there was so much to learn. Luckily, my passion carried me through and helped me to stay focused and not give up. Looking back, I do cringe a bit at my work from my first year as a tattooist, but you have to start somewhere! I would tattoo everything, any style, whatever the client wanted basically. I think this is a good way to start your career, be open to different styles, as trying out different styles taught me what I do and don’t enjoy tattooing, and I found my passion: black and grey work.

Q: How long have you been tattooing? When did you do your first tattoo in a professional tattoo studio? What it was?
A: I've been a tattoo artist for 9 years now, but working at a professional level for 6-7 years. The first tattoo I did was a tribal design, I remember how nervous I was- my hands were shaking and I was sweating like crazy!

Q: How long took you to figure out your creative direction?
A: I'm most known for my black and grey work, which I’ve been doing for 7 years. I think I have my own distinctive style now and a certain aesthetic that my clients and followers enjoy. I think it’s important to note, however, that my style is still evolving. I’m always looking to push my creativity and skill and keep learning.

Q: Why black and grey realism? What do you like the most about this style?
A: When I was starting, I tried color, but I realized that it wasn't my style.

Q: Honestly, realism as a style is no joke! There's no "play and see" there's only precision as a "bare minimum" and huge expectation from the client... you gotta be really good... technically and creatively. Would you agree?
A: I think one of the key factors is your drawing level. If you devote enough time to your education, you will feel confident in what you are doing.

Q: What was the most complicated tattoo you worked on?
A: I think that the most complicated tattoos are the ones done on a tricky body part. For example, it is much more difficult to do a tattoo on the ribs/neck than on the arm.

Q: How long it takes to finish a big piece like sleeve or a full back tattoo?
A: It usually takes between 5 to 8 sessions to make a sleeve. The back piece can take from 4 to 10. All this depends on the size, style and number of individual features in the work.

Q: I love your technique! The perfect balance between the black and white ink... it's almost like a photograph or a nice charcoal drawing... really, really cool! How much the knowledge of proper ink usage plays a key role, even after the tattoo fully heals? We all want a good looking tattoo.... forever... Well yea..
A: Thank you! I like to play with contrasts, leaving the light areas of the skin untouched, allowing my work to live for a long time. I also create a texture using a liner. I like how it looks healed.

Q: Is it possible to maintain the good look even years after? We all know tattoos fade... What are some of your best tips for tattoo aftercare and maintaining the healthy skin even after the healing process?
A: The main thing is to use sun cream. Tans and tattoos are not friends!

Q: What do you do when you feel like you need a pause, or it's just simply a "bad" day and you need some inspiration? Any interesting hobbies?
A: I think it’s super important to have hobbies and interests outside of work, no matter what career you’re in, you need to look after your mental well-being to be your best at work. Exercise is super important for me, I like to go to the gym and recently, I’ve been really into rock climbing, it’s fun so it doesn’t feel like exercise.

Q: Do you travel for work? Like guest spots etc? What was the coolest experience, did you learn something from it? Let us know where you are located and how we can book an appointment.
A: I have been a guest artist in many countries. This is a great help in development. Working with colleagues and clients from different parts of the world helps me to become flexible and find an approach to everyone. I'm based in Hereford but I sometimes travel for guest spots. I like being able to stay in one place for a good amount of time, it gives me the opportunity to build a community and a regular client base. It is best to look at my instagram profile - there is always up-to-date information on which city I’ll be working in and where to find me.

Q: Once you get good at tattooing, clients and good reviews, there's no going back! Hah! Tattooing is one of the best professions out there. It's love, it's self expression, it's passion! Sure there are sacrifices and sometimes pressure, thirst for more knowledge and progress, but it's woth it. What do you like the most about being a full time tattoo artist?
A: I definitely think it's a drug. I completely consider myself a workaholic! But I love what I do so I don’t mind putting in the extra effort. My profession gives me the opportunity to be flexible, travel around the world and, most importantly, express my creativity.

Q: What would you recommend to all the young people who will read this interview and want to try getting into this business?
A: I recommend having a job at the start of your tattoo career. This is important because you need to be able to support yourself and pay for your tattoo equipment. You have to really love it. You won’t just slip and fall into an apprenticeship and start making money right away, it’s more realistic that you won’t start making any real money until a few years into your career. As long as you have the passion and determination, it will carry you through.