Interview with tattoo artist Leo Favarink

  Hello Leo Favarink! Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. Do you have any formal art training? Hi, I’m Leo! Art has always been in my life. I have been attending art workshops since I was a teenager. I've studied drawing, graffiti, oil painting, acrylic, watercolor and even photography. When I decided to dedicate myself to learn tattooing, I took a drawing course at a school in my hometown, named ESA, it was really nice and helped me a lot. However, I haven't gone to university to study art yet, but I really want to.

Q: How long have you been tattooing and honestly how long it took you to learn the basics and figure out your creative direction?
A: I’ve been tattooing since 2010. I did my first tattoo as a professional one year and a half after I started my apprenticeship, so the basics took me approximately two years and the rest I'm still learning.

Q: Tell me more about the apprenticeship and the help you received.
A: Lots of help from lots of people, especially from my brother Darte, who was already an incredible tattoo artist and taught me a lot, and Batata, who opened the doors of his shop and welcomed me as an apprentice. They were by my side helping and teaching me on a daily basis, but I received a lot of help from various artists, help from books, magazines, internet, paintings, everything!

Q: If you were starting today what would you do differently?
A: I would pick a style and dedicate myself completely to it. When I started, we had the culture of doing everything, there were days that I did everything from fine lines to colorful “Japanese” tattoos. That way you know a little bit about each style, but it's almost impossible for you to be very good at all of them. It's only been 4 years since I decided to do just black and gray.

Q: You are a very, very talented artist! I really love how your style developed over the time. I love the portraits, and the big tattoos, like sleeves, leg pieces etc. One can really see all those beautiful details and the perfect shading just makes the whole tattoo look even better. Patience and precision are key here. How long it takes to finish a big piece? How many sessions?
A: Thank you, I’m glad you guys liked it! Yes, patience and commitment, thank god I have the best customers. How long it takes, depends on the design and size, but usually a full arm sleeve takes around 6 sessions of 5 hours each.

Q: What types of designs do you like the most? Which ones are more challenging to work on? I guess people's portraits?
A: I really like to draw and tattoo large scale, women's faces, flowers, animals, and skulls. Putting some of these subjects together with a cool background that flows with the body. It’s my favorite. People's portraits are definitely the most challenging, because the result depends a lot on the quality of the photo and file, and sometimes they don't have one, also because of the pressure it is, usually it's a portrait of a loved one.

Q: I love tattoo realism, either is people's portraits or some cool animal sleeve, this style is really next level, technically. My favorite reaction from people is "Wow it's like a painting, like a photograph" "Like they're alive" I love it. What do you like about tattoo realism the most?
A: I like the feeling of connection that realism brings, when you look and see that it looks real and yet it's drawn, I really like it. The realism I do is a little different because I use a lot of lines. I like this mixture with the illustrative, the realist only more illustrated.

Q: What's your favorite client's reaction? Hey, don't be modest! Heh
A: It’s like a painting is my favorite for sure haha and I also love when I see them in front of the mirror, looking at themselves and moving the body to see the details and the motion of the shapes we’ve created.

Q: Let's talk about the creative part, do you feel like you can add some interesting components to the original design? Either is a cool background or some cool details/floral elements for example? I think one must try to not limit his creative abilities while still on "board" with the client.
A: Yes, I'm lucky that my customers allow me to do my thing. I've been studying and exploring a lot about composition and body fitting. My biggest goal now is to make tattoos that fit perfectly, that follow the movement and shape of the body.

Q: Would you stick to black and gray realism? I think you would be just as good if you try experimenting with color inks. Just a thought...
A: Oh yeah, as I said before, I used to do everything, and I did a lot of colors. I do love colors, but I like more black and gray tattoos.

Q: As a traveling artist, I bet you are meeting all kinds of people. What are some of the best memories and where?
A: Difficult to define which were the best memories, because they are endless. We've been meeting a lot of incredible people. But, tattooing on the side and getting tattoos from artists I've always admired is something that made a big impression on me. And without a doubt, something incredible that has been happening is going to visit Filip Leu. Seeing him tattooing, talking to him and having the opportunity to get to know the tattoo legend that he is, is just something else.

Q: Nowadays tattooing is on a completely different level. Just ten years ago things were very different. And thanks to you guys, the creative, new generation who brought all these new styles, really showed us that tattoos don't have to be boring, ready-made designs from a catalog, instead something unique and special. There's also the quality level... unbelievable... How do you see the industry today?
A: Tattooing has grown a lot, especially in the last ten years. It's amazing to see the amount of great artists out there, the creativity, the quality, the way they bring tattooing to the next level is incredible. I don't think that ever in history, tattooing has been seen as an art as it is today, many people don't buy a sculpture, or a painting, but many get a tattoo, in my view this is the new way of consuming art, and that's incredible! I can't wait for everything that's yet to come!

Q: What traveling and tattooing taught you about yourself and your own resilience?
A: Since I've left my hometown looking for more, it's been just amazing. I wish I could put into words everything these years have taught me, I wish I could but it's too much haha One thing I can say is that we are nobody alone, we need each other, we are definitely stronger together.

Q: Please write down your studio location and your contact details. You can also write your socials so my audience will keep up with your schedule and give you a follow.
A: I’m on the road in Europe right now, so keep an eye out on my instagram @leotattooartist_ to see where I’ll be next.

Q: Do you have something you would like to promote here?
A: Not really, haha just follow me on instagram and show some love!

Q: What would you say to anyone reading this and wants to get into this business? What they should do, what's the best way to start?
A: If you think you can be a good tattooer, just go for it. Be really open to learning, everything and everyone has something to teach you