Interview with Radion Zinyatov

   Hello Radion Zinyatov! Thank you so much 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 education? Hello, dear editorial team! I was born and raised in the small town of Temirtau, located in Kazakhstan, Central Asia. My journey into tattooing began in 2011 when I was a 16-year-old just finishing school and preparing to enter a design college. At that time, I already had an education from a children's art school, where I studied in the art department. I combined my studies in college with tattooing. I successfully graduated from college and continued tattooing.

Q: Since when did you discover your affinity for arts?
A: Looking back, I realize that I have always been closely connected with drawing and visual arts in general. I have been drawing since childhood, creating various comics about Spiderman and other superheroes. My parents noticed my interest at an early age and sent me to a children's art school, for which I am very grateful. I love my parents.

Q: What type of art do you like the most and do you have any favorite artists?
A: I am very interested in contemporary art, oil painting, and artists who can combine abstraction and realism. Among past artists, I can highlight Hans Rudolf Giger and the Polish artist Zdzisław Beksiński. I adore their eerie worlds with characters that, in my opinion, have very interesting and well-thought-out visualizations. Overall, I am open to any manifestation of visual art from different times and many things can inspire me. So, when asked, I have many names and specific paintings that I can remember and describe for a long time :)

Q: What got you interested in tattooing? How it all started?
A: At 16, when I thought about trying tattooing, it was just a new way of drawing for me, a tool and material in the form of human skin. At that time, I had already tried oil painting, graffiti, and tattooing was another form of visual art. I couldn't imagine that I would be doing it for the next 13 years, and it would become my profession.

Q: You are very talented, I bet it was easier for you to learn the basics, however probably you spent some time "finding yourself" creatively?
A: Considering my artistic education before I started tattooing, I didn't make many mistakes or create truly bad tattoos at the very beginning. At that time, I already had developed precision, which allowed me to make bad tattoos relatively clean (LOL). I tried myself in different styles and directions, looking for myself, and I think that only now I understand what interests me the most in tattooing. But my search for a style continues.

Q: In your portfolio, I see a lot of beautiful portraits, mainly tattoo realism style. Is this your creative direction or you are planning to experiment with other styles?
A: I love portraits and think this is something I will always want to do. I believe this is the direction I want to move in, but I also want to mix the realistic portraits with other styles.

Q: I love the fact that you do color and black and gray tattooing. Any preference or you enjoy doing both?
A: I can't say I prefer doing either color or black and white tattoos more. I think the style I am developing can be executed in both black and white and color. I believe my style should be distinguished by the line shapes I use in the background, themes (portraits), composition, and overall mood, but not by the presence or absence of color.

Q: Some say that realism as a style can be creatively limiting since we all require that perfect precision and accuracy of the original portrait photo. However, nowadays clients want something more unique, so we got more stylized portraits... Many decorative elements like fonts, interesting flowers or even cartoonish stuff can look really cool, almost like graffiti style design. I love this mix. Tell me about the creative process. Do you draw some sketches before the session or?
A: Yes, I also enjoy combining various styles and elements in tattooing! Usually, I create a design on an iPad in the form of a photo collage and draw separate elements by hand for the background. With the advent of artificial intelligence, I almost always generate references for collages using AI. This makes my tattoos unique. I often create designs a few days before the session, considering the client's wishes and ideas, but I do this in my style, also considering my artistic experience and perspective.

Q: I saw some really cool drawings in your portfolio, but I was like wow... When I saw the one on fake skin... Radion, that looks awesome! Seriously, is it more difficult to draw on fake skin or on paper? I want to encourage our readers to try this technique. So Guide me!
A: Thank you for your attention to my work on artificial skin! I love practicing on artificial skin because it is exactly the same process as tattooing on real skin. Given my extensive experience in tattooing, tattooing on artificial skin is no more difficult than drawing on paper, but it takes significantly more time. But I always rejoice at the result, especially when framing the finished work.

Q: I think you should have your own catalogue with your own drawings so clients can choose a ready-made design. About the fake skin... Plan an expo!
A: I have considered a personal exhibition with tattoos on artificial skin and I am working on it. So far, I don't have many works, but I continue to pursue this goal. So I hope to announce an exhibition soon!

Q: We are talking realism style... Technically this style is very demanding but also very rewarding when you finally master it and you see your client's happy face at the end of the session, right?
A: The happy face of my client at the end the session is my highest reward. The moment when the client first sees the finished tattoo in the mirror is very important to me. Their emotions always make me happy and inspired. I am very demanding of myself in the quality of the tattoo execution, so when clients notice this, I am sincerely happy.

Q: Do you also do cover up tattoos? If so, please tell us what type of tattoos (color or black and gray) are easier to cover?
A: I do quite a lot of cover-ups of old and bad tattoos. For me, this is an opportunity to help people in this way, making their lives better, more pleasant, and more comfortable. Because old and bad tattoos often cause embarrassment and shame for some people. Sometimes they have to hide them with clothing, feeling insecure. So yes, I feel it is my mission.

Q: Are all "bad" tattoos solvable?
A: I work with almost any cover-up, no matt
er how difficult it is. Because I believe that it is always possible to do better than what it's already there. Of course, it is easier and simpler to cover light tattoos without a lot of black ink. This provides more options in design themes and specific elements. Usually, darker old tattoos are limited in choice. But it is always possible to find something that the client will really like and that will be suitable for covering.

Q: Do you negotiate with your clients when it comes to choosing a proper design and colors? I assume, cover up tattoos are way more challenging to work on than tattoos on "clean" skin?
A: Yes, of course, we always agree with the client on the choice of plot and elements for the cover up. Usually, this work is more complicated, especially in creating the design. It is more complex and responsible process. The application of the new tattoo usually does not differ from working on "clean" skin, except that cover up tattoos often require an additional session to more densely color the areas of the old tattoo.

Q: Your opinion on lasser removal? What's the timeframe that a client needs to wait before they decide to cover up the old tattoo?
A: Sometimes I work with tattoos that have undergone laser removal. This gives more options in ideas and designs for the new tattoo. I know that after a laser removal session, some time should pass, usually more than a month, often 2-3 months. This long period is because the lightening process of the tattoo occurs during this time, after the complete healing from the procedure. The body continues to "wash out" the remnants of the old pigment much longer than the visible recovery after the removal session.

Q: So many clients, stories and experiences. I guess this journey is full of lessons and beautiful moments. What do you like the most about being a tattoo artist?
A: I really like the opportunity to meet new and interesting people. Every acquaintance is a separate story. With many clients, I often become friends. I also really enjoy the opportunity to travel, see new cities and countries. For me, this is happiness.

Q: I can see that you are traveling, guest spots? Where are you now and are you available for bookings?
A: At the moment, I have been living and working in Canada for a year. So appointments for sessions with me are open in the beautiful sunny city of Kelowna at DON’T LOOK DOWN studio. I will be very happy to see you on my tattoo chair :) You can contact me on Instagram @rrradion. Previously, I worked in Poland at SKY tattoo studio, in Moscow (Russia) at PROFF tattoo studio, in Turkey in the city of Alanya at Cleopatra INK studio, and in Kazakhstan, in my hometown of Karaganda at AZART tattoo studio. The experience of working in Turkey was my first one outside my home country. It was quite an ambiguous but important experience. There, I had the opportunity to earn my first serious money, which allowed me to move forward. The experience in Moscow was very positive, as I was an apprentice of the famous tattoo artist Igor Terentyev (@tattooproff). There, I was able to significantly improve the quality of my tattoos and began to form my recognizable style. The experience in Poland was my first in Europe. There, I had the opportunity to travel around European countries and visited France, Paris. The experience of working in Canada opened huge horizons for me in all areas of my life. I enjoy living and working in Canada.

Q: What about tattoo conventions?
A: So far, I have not attended many tattoo conventions, as I am more comfortable working in a studio. But a year ago, I attended one of the major festivals in Canada, in the city of Kelowna. It was very interesting experience for me. There, I tried myself in participation, learned how participation works and how to win in nominations. So at the next convention or festival, I will be prepared and try to win some nomination.

Q: Since you've had the opportunity to see other countries and get familiar with the local tattoo scene... What is your opinion? Do you see progress?
A: I have worked in Central Asia, Europe and North America. These are completely different countries with different mentalities. But despite all these differences, I see one similarity. Tattoo artists in all these countries strive to be better every day, constantly improving the quality of their work, trying to make them more interesting and bring something new.

Q: What about the global tattoo scene? Do you feel like we are heading in a good direction?
A: Tattooing is rapidly changing every year, with new styles and techniques emerging, artificial intelligence appearing and all this leading to the overall development of tattooing worldwide. So yes, I believe we are moving in the right direction.

Q: What would you charge or improve?
A: If we talk about tattooing globally, I would leave everything as it is, allowing it to develop independently. There is nothing I would want to fix. And if we talk about myself as a separate tattoo artist, I would like to dedicate more time to developing my basic artistic skills, possibly spending more time on oil painting and education in this field.

Q: Where is the next destination? I bet for a talented and hard working artist like you, the American tattoo scene will be a great career highlight.
A: I think there are many countries I would like to visit or even work officially under a contract. Among these countries are Vietnam, Japan, Germany, and the United States. I think the next country could be the United States, as it is close to Canada.

Q: Your advice for those who want to try getting into professional tattooing?
A: The most important and crucial advice, in my opinion, is to develop your artistic skills first and foremost. Tattooing is just a form of visual art, where the same rules apply as in drawing on paper or painting on canvas.

Thank you for these interesting questions. I was glad to have such a wonderful conversation with you!