Interview with Robert Shteinberg

  Hello Robert Shteinberg! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. It really means a lot having you here. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. Do you have any formal art training? My name is Robert Shteinberg, I am 28 years old, I was born and grew up in a small village in Siberia, Russia. When I was a kid I went to a children's art school, but I never finished it and there I did not learn to draw, I learned only to mold origami. After high school, I moved to study in the big city of Novosibirsk, where I had to study and work at the same time, because I had to pay for school. I tried my best, I earned for my studies and my first tattoo machine. It was an interesting time, new experience and new knowledge. After five years of living in Novosibirsk, I moved to Europe. Now I live and work in Germany, in the city of Nuremberg, Bavaria.

Q: What inspired you to start tattooing?
A: When I was about 11-12 years old, I saw body painting for the first time. At that time I lived in a small village in Siberia, nobody knew anything about tattoos, and I didn't even know that it was called a "tattoo". I got my first information about it from former prisoners and those who served in the army - they were the only ones who had tattoos at that time. Also my parents had acquaintances with tattoos, who told me that in Russian it was called "partak" and that it was done with home equipment. It was done in such a way: they disassembled an old shaving machine, took out the motor, attached it to a spoon, to this spoon attached a rod for a pen, and in the rod inserted a guitar string. I was very surprised to learn that such things could be done on human skin. It was when I was 12 years old that I wanted to get into tattooing, but I had absolutely no idea how it worked. It wasn't until six years later that I saw professional tattoo equipment and a professional tattoo artist for the first time.

Q: How long have you been tattooing? How long took you to learn the basics and gain confidence?
A: Halloween 2023 was the 7th year I had been tattooing. The first two years was all bad, I had everything slanted and crooked, tattooing turned out very bad, but in meantime I was learning how to draw. Studying drawing helped me a lot to pump, but the first two years were just terrible, nothing worked out, but I invested in myself and it helped me grow. In our industry without it is impossible to succeed, you need to constantly grow and develop.

Q: Did anyone help you? What is your opinion about tattoo apprenticeship?
A: I did not like my training, the artist to whom I turned to, did not know how to work and was constantly saying: "Do! Then you will understand everything!", my head works differently. I need to first understand how it works and then I begin to understand why I should do so. In fact, my training went like this: I came to the studio, I was given a banana, I tattooed it and left, and the artist who "trained" me, was doing other things. But after that, I found a team where I was taken and there I gained experience. We had a very friendly team and we helped each other to gain knowledge. We did a lot together.

Q: Dark, mysterious, thought provoking, interesting and quite "weird" in beautiful way... I absolutely love your style... I think heavy metal bands and writers would be very happy if you can design artworks for them. Seriously! What do you like the most about your style?
A: Thank you very much, it's always nice to know that someone likes my work. I am inspired by writers and I'm a big fan of King. I have read a lot of his works and regularly draw that very clown in my paintings or sketches. I like the images of people with fangs the most, I see something sinister in that. Also dark images that have a deep emotional and symbolic connotation for me. My work reflects my personal experiences, interests and philosophy. My childhood was far from sweet, I had to fight for a place in the sun, I lost my mother early, my father is an alcoholic, I lived for a year in a foster home, all these stages have certainly left a mark on me and my art. All the monsters I create are monsters of people.

Q: There are tattooists and tattoo artists. Unlike tattooists that only tattoo designs, artists develop their own unique technique and their own style in which they will express themselves creatively. Your opinion?
A: I think I am still a tattoo artist, I try to develop my style. I like to not only do just a design, and think about the plot to it, but to make some history. I think partly from this, my works in some ways echo each other. But what is still important, very often I do my works radically different from my usual designs. I have abstract bright designs, which if you see, you will not think that I made them. I don't show those works, they are hanging at home or I usually give some to my friends or acquaintances who come to visit me. I also work in different techniques, calligraphy, I can sometimes write, then sit down to draw in modern style, and then again I go to my dark art.

Q: Some of your tattoo designs are very complex and I bet it takes some extra time to figure out the whole design. How do you create your designs, do you have like a sketchbook? Tell me about the technical part.
A: I have a sketchbook, sometimes I make sketches for myself to sort out some shapes and objects that interest me, and if I need to make a design for a tattoo, I take an iPad, make a collage or draw there. With an iPad you can do everything very quickly, not like with painting, which could take 40-50 hours. On average, I spend a couple of hours on a sketch now, if I have to make a collage and draw something, if I draw everything from scratch, then it takes at least 10 hours for sure. When you spend a lot of time drawing or making collages, you develop your skills. I remember when I just started to draw, one drawing could took 50 hours, now on the same drawing I spend 10 hours or less. I do not have any secrets or secret techniques.

Q: What happens if the client wants a different design day before the session? Do you have any specific working rules to safe time and energy?
A: This practically does not happen, initially we meet in person, discuss everything, and collect examples. Sometimes you can do something on the spot or even try on, only after that I sit down to do the design. If it is a person from another city or another country, I ask him/her to describe his/her idea, send me examples of what they like and also the part of the body on which we will do the tattoo.

Q: Have you ever refused to do a certain design or you always find ways to work things out with the client?
A: Yes, there have been refusals of course, but it was a long time ago, now the clients know what they want to see on themselves and most often it is to my liking.

Q: I bet it takes a lot of time to finish a big tattoo, like full back piece of a sleeve. The longest session? What was the design?
A: My client Patrick comes to me (Patrick hi), he comes every Saturday for more than a year, we have already made him two legs, overlapped the arm, painted the back, soon we will finish the chest. I don't even know how many sessions have already taken on this, but Patrick does not leave, we have another hand and buttocks to do.

Q: Artists are constantly trying to improve, when you have the talent and the will... Progress is guaranteed. Is there any favorite tattoo you did that almost feels like "next level" creatively and even technically?
A: No, we don't have that one yet! I think you realize that in our craft there is no limit to perfection. You constantly have to grow. Today you like your work and tomorrow you don't, it's always like this.

Q: Talking about creativity, even though you have your own style, would you try to change something, like maybe working more with color ink? I saw some colored tattoos you did, they look amazing!! Please explore color more.
A: Whoa! Where? I kind of deleted everything! (kidding) yes I started with color, but I did not like it. I like the depth and gloom of black color, it is a priority for me. I want to develop in this further. And just for myself I often draw color abstract paintings.

Q: Do you have any favorite artists that inspire you? Movie character or a villain from a book?
A: I do not believe in inspiration, it is some strange thing for me. I do not understand it. I just do my favorite thing, I do not need inspiration. I remembered one quote from an artist a long time ago, unfortunately, I do not remember his name. He said the following: "The amateur looks for inspiration, the professional takes it and does it!". This quote really stuck in my mind.

Q: Your paintings... Oh do I a favorite? Not really, I like them all! Maybe the Jesus painting. I love the red color and the black contrasting it. Really, really nice! How long took you to complete it?
A: I also like the painting with the little Jesus, but I think that each of them are fun with their own zest. Each one has its own charm. On average it takes 30-60 hours, the little Jesus took hours 40-50 to complete it. The most difficult part was to correctly build the proportions of the body, but it was worth it.

Q: People will look at your paintings and will want some to decorate their design studio etc. Are all your paintings a product of your imagination or you do customs for sale?
A: I will gladly decorate someone's house or apartment with my paintings. I take orders, but most often people buy from my already finished works. Not so long ago one guy bought four paintings at once, then he sent a photo, the paintings he placed directly above his desk. It was very pleasant to see.

Q: How our audience can contact you and buy some of your artworks?
A: You can easily write me on any of my social networks or email, I will answer you soon. I will definitely leave my contacts.

Name: Robert Shteinberg
Instagram: robertattoo23cm
Facebook: Robert Shteinberg
City/State/Country: Nuremberg/Bavaria/Germany

Q: Being a full time artist can be sometimes overwhelming, simply because tattooing is not only hard work, but there is pressure to "deliver" the best results every day. Marking someone for life isn't just an honor but also a huge responsibility, right?
A: Yes, it's true, you have to try and keep your hand on the pulse, you can not make a mistake, at work you should always be focused, rested and most importantly fed, especially the latter for me is very important, on an empty stomach, in general, can not work, I always have a breakfast before work, I advise my clients to do the same.

Q: What do you do on days when you feel like you need a day off? Do you have any interesting hobbies?
A: On such days I try to go out and unwind, it helps a lot. When I'm completely tired of work and anything associated with it, I play computer games, it helps me to turn off the brain, reboot and then go into battle with new strength and energy. Damn! I almost forgot! It's also cool to go to a bar with friends.

Q: Tattoo artists have a lot more opportunities to grow, there are so many seminars, conventions, even some good YouTube channels with educational videos... I think it's easier to learn but also market yourself, having the power of social media. I think we are seeing so much progress nowadays. Just the last few years... There are so many new styles, artists and the quality is on a completely different level. Do you agree?
A: Yes, it's true, there's a lot of information available on the internet nowadays, it definitely makes it easier to develop nowadays. I myself also share information about tattoo machines or any other tattoo-related topics on my YouTube channel.

Q: I really like to see you working on some crazy big tattoo with another tattoo artist and patiently waiting for the final outcome fully knowing it's going to be masterpiece! Yup! Are there any tattoo artists you would like to collaborate with?
A: I would like to collaborate with Neon Judas, I'm a fan of his, he's very cool! I also like Rich Harris, David Benjamin Kaye, Sean Foy, Dom Brown, Joshua Beatson, Mashkow, in general there are a lot of cool guys.

Q: Three favorite career moments?
A: First: When I did my first sketch, I drew a crappy sketch and one guy liked it, he came to me and we did this sketch. Second: The first time I made a video for YouTube, I was very nervous, I kept forgetting the text, we shot the video for 3-4 hours and the video turned out to be 10 minutes long. Third: The first time I gave an interview for a magazine. For me it was something exorbitant and unattainable, but here I was called to talk about my tattoos, it was a new experience for me.

Q: In a few words, what would you recommend to any young person who will read our interview and want to try getting into this business?
A: Learn to draw, without drawing skills you will go nowhere, the better the drawing, the better the tattoo.