Interview with Pavel Chuvilov

  Hello Pavel Chuvilov! Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. Were you that curious, artistic kid who loved drawing his favourite heroes? Hello! My name is Pavel. I was born 34 years ago in St.Petersburg, Russia. In my childhood, I draw a lot and I even had some lessons with teachers. However, I was far from having good drawing skills and I wouldn't consider myself gifted in that regard. I started learning to draw properly when I was already a tattoo artist for a five years.

Q: How it all started? Why tattooing? When the fascination for tattooing first began?
A: I got into the tattoo industry by a stroke of luck. It was the end of 2011. We had an informal scene back then, it was the heyday of subcultures in the CIS. On the recommendation of some folks from the scene, I ended up at the studio of a respected tattoo artist at that time. I came in to get an old-school sailing ship on my shoulder. That's when I realized that it was a genuine, serious profession! I was working a job I didn't like at the time and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. And then, this stroke of luck! That master agreed to teach me the ropes of the profession. That's how it all began.

Q: I bet there are many artists or art styles that you like or even felt inspired by... Will you name some?
A: Honestly, I hardly follow traditional artists. I keep tabs on a whole bunch of really cool tattoo artists and try to surround myself with top-level professionals in life. That way, we constantly inspire each other! It's a revolving cycle of inspiration! I also draw inspiration from the visual style in movies and cartoons. And of course, in video games too!

Q: As a beginner, what type of tattoos you use to do?
A: I started with American traditional tattooing. Well, I tried to draw something similar, to be precise. But I wasn't very good at it. :) After that, I struggled to find my own style, even though I always designed all the tattoos myself for each client.

Q: Was it difficult to learn the process? The basics of tattooing, putting the effort and the "trial & error" times... oh tell me more.
A: I quickly learned the basics, received help in assembling my first equipment and that's where my training ended. In those days, there was hardly any information available on the internet, so I had to learn everything through my own experience. It was a long journey! Nowadays, I sometimes teach people and they can go through this path in just a few months! Unfortunately, I didn't have that opportunity back then.

Q: How long it took you to figure out your creative direction?
A: I think it took about five years. That's when I realized I wanted to specialize in "neotraditional" style. But desire alone wasn't enough. It took me another couple of years to start getting the hang of it within the framework of that style. I had to spend a year in an art school to achieve this! I realized that my drawing skills weren't sufficient for "neotraditional," so I went back to the drawing board from scratch. :)

Q: Neo traditional tattoo style is awesome. It's like that cool upgrade from the old school style. I love it. I believe tattoo artists have more creative freedom when doing this style, than some "strict" like realism etc. What do you like the most about neo traditional?
A: Neotraditional style offers almost maximum creative freedom! I can create a portrait, a landscape, and everything will fit within the style's framework. I can also borrow elements or techniques from oriental tattooing or "old school" and it still fits into the style. Here, I can come up with absolutely anything, and I often do. :) If I want to, I can draw pigeons with hairy chests and arms! If I want, I can depict bodybuilder bananas relaxing on the beach. Some guys don't even outline their works! And it's all still neotraditional!

Q: Honestly, I think the level of quality is way higher not just technically, but creatively as well... People expect some crazy, (100%) unique design from you each day. Do you feel challenged sometimes?
A: Thank you! Actually, the secret is that I hardly ever create free designs. Almost everything you see in my portfolio is either my clients' ideas or our collaborative fantasies. That's why I've become accustomed to working with this particular approach.

Q: Do you have a favorite design you drew for a client and you consider it to be "next level" creatively?
A: I'm the kind of person who always thinks, "Pasha, you could do better" I constantly set a bar that I can't jump over. I believe it's the direct path to endless growth. That's why there isn't a work like the one you're asking about yet.

Q: What would be the craziest (yet) design you want to see/tattoo on someone's skin?
A: One tattoo artist and I had an idea to create a realistic belly button and surround it with a colorful "tribal" design. I still want to make it happen! Any takers?

Q: I love the prints too. Really nice quality! There are also some old school flash sets! So, so great! Do you sell some? I think it would be brilliant if you design a clothing line, interesting tshirts etc. Just a suggestion.
A: In reality, apart from conventions, I've never really sold my prints anywhere else. I guess I lack the focus to take on that aspect as well. Although thoughts about clothing, for example, cross my mind regularly.

Q: Now tell me about your clients. How long they wait for an appointment and are they allowed to bring some reference images?
A: I try not to plan beyond a month ahead, so there's not much of a wait for appointments. The client needs to gather a set of visual references that we'll base the tattoo on. These can be various tattoos they like, photos, frames from movies, or even just explaining their idea in words, and I'll draw it in my style. I use every means to ensure that after the first consultation, there's no room for misunderstanding, and I'm prepared to create exactly what the client wants!

- Do you accept all requests or they are some designs you simply won't do?
If the idea fits within my style preferences, I'm almost always ready to bring it to life. I believe I wouldn't create tattoos with ideologies that are not aligned with my own or make me uncomfortable. Fortunately, such requests tend to stay away from me. All my clients share similar interests, worldviews, and ways of thinking, which is quite fortunate!

Q: What about the indecisive ones? Not knowing what design they want, but for sure, they want a tattoo from you, no doubt! Hah! Do you help them, show them some designs, or the "door"?
A: If someone likes my portfolio and wants a tattoo in my style, we can always work with associations and images. During consultations, I always ask the client about their interests, what resonates with them, and what repels them in tattoos. We almost always find a common ground. This way, an idea is born, and from there, the rest of the details fall into place like a snowball rolling downhill.

Q: You meet all types of people every day. I bet there are some very funny and memorable moments that keep reminding you that this profession is not just a job to pay the bills. What do you like the most about being a tattoo artist?
A: That's exactly what I love most about my profession! The opportunity to meet and interact with such diverse people! And most importantly, during our sessions, they can be themselves without masks. They could be high-ranking executives or business owners, lifeguards, engineers, doctors, or musicians. In the studio, everyone is equal! When they come in for a session, we can crack silly jokes and have the whole studio laughing. In their regular lives, many of them might not have the chance to let loose like that!

- Would you change something?
I would get myself a super-powered cyber spine! The current one gets pretty tired from all the tattoo sessions.

Q: Now in Turkey, how is the tattoo scene there? Do you see progress?
A: I arrived here about a year and a half ago, so I haven't fully grasped everything yet. But it seems to me that the tattoo industry is still gaining a momentum here. As far as I've understood, there's only one tattoo festival here each year. In Russia, we had at least 8 a year in various cities. Neotraditional and new school tattoos are not very common in Turkey. So, there's room for growth and opportunity! The competition among artists here is currently quite low, which can hinder their development.

Q: In few words, what would you recommend to all the young people who will read this interview and want to try getting into this business?
A: If you want to become a tattoo artist be prepared to invest several years, just like in any other profession. After that, you can start reaping the rewards! This profession demands a lot of dedication and the cost of making a mistake can be high. But, in my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks! If you want to become a tattoo artist, start practicing your drawing skills early. Learn from others' mistakes, for example, from mine.