Interview with Sergey Vinni | Realism Tattoo Style | Russia 18/04/2022

 Hello Sergey Vinni! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. How did you learn the basic skills of tattooing? Did anyone help you? My name is Sergey. I was drawing portraits with a pencil for two years I started tattooing. Then I tried to do airbrushing but it wasn’t successful and I’ve decided to try tattooing. I have been studying tattooing for a long time before practice. There were a lot of questions because I didn't know how should I start. Finally, I’ve found the answers to almost everything. When I bought all the necessary equipment, I tried to practice on artificial skin for several times. I did my first tattoo in 2015. I started with a small tattoo on my friend’s leg. I did it with the help from my friend who is a tattoo artist. Generally, I’ve studied by myself without any masterclasses and special education.

Q: What type of tattoos you use to do as a beginner? How long took you to gain confidence in your work and regular clients?
A: I started with graphics and ornamental tattoos: dots and lines. I liked this style and it's easy to do these designs as a beginner. At that time, I began to make myself a sleeve in dotwork style. It's cool when you can make something interesting with simple shapes or make a portrait with dots. In the summer of 2016, I tried to do some realistic tattoos. Then for the first time, I’ve tried to use the Soft Magnum needle type. I really liked it! The speed of work has changed and shadows have become smoother. Since then, "realism" mixed with graphics began to appear in my portfolio. As for me, everything changed in May 2019. I started making storyboards from films and miniature portraits. I really liked to convey the essence of the film in three frames, make miniatures so that they heal perfectly, and were readable for many years. Since then, I have been doing only realism. I’ve tried to combine it with different elements from other styles and build interesting compositions.

Q: There are many tattoo styles nowadays. People like to experiment with new, cool stuff and artists love it. But no one can deny that tattoo realism is one of the most popular, and difficult style to master it. What do you like about tattoo realism? Why only tattoo realism?
A: I like realism because I get a lot of pleasure by working in this style. I like to convey the volume of objects, details of various elements, and of course, facial expressions and emotions. High-quality and contrasting realism looks very impressive.

 Q: No color ink? Would you try color tattooing in the feature?
A: Yes, I don't work with color, but I've had some experience. My friend Bobby wanted me to get him a tattoo with Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris in color. Although he knew that I have never worked with color and still trusted me. It was not easy but it was interesting. I hope I did it well. I am not interested in color at the moment. If we are talking about color realism, a lot of factors should converge for a good result.

Q: Tattoo realism, especially portraits require very detailed, precise touch, no any mistakes... One must be fully prepared to give the best, because clients expect perfection... What details take a lot of time to finish?
A: Without any doubt, I can highlight the eyes. I pay more attention to them. At the same time, do not forget about other parts of the face. If there is an open smile, it is worth carefully working out the teeth without clear contours, so that it does not catch your eye much. If the face in the photo has a good chiaroscuro, it does not cause any difficulties. Sometimes it takes time working on a complex hairstyle in a portrait or on detailed clothes.

Q: Even though, portraits require the precise work but still there's a little room for creative freedom like adding some cool backgrounds or interesting details like roses etc. Do you draw sketches for each client prior the session or it can be done freehand meanwhile tattooing?
A: Yes, of course, each sketch is prepared individually by the peculiarities of the placement of application and anatomy. I always take measurements from the area and then prepare a sketch for it in Procreate. I try to prepare everything in advance. It is extremely rare to add something meanwhile the session. I prefer to make not just a portrait but to add various dynamic elements to it (lines, inscriptions, objects associated with the portrait), of course, if the client likes such an idea.

Q: I saw some really cool drawings, you are very talented. I bet each new way to create is like a "wake up" call to try. Drawing on artificial leather? Tell me more.
A: Working with artificial skin is a very interesting direction in tattooing. You can create cool works on artificial skin of any scale. At the same time, you don’t worry that the client feels pain or is limited in time. You can create your own masterpieces in a comfortable environment. By the way, it’s a great practice;) The peculiarity of working with artificial skin is that the tone is typed very slowly, compared to human skin. It means that you can make very smooth and soft shadows, and accordingly, you will get a realistic tattoo. Be patient and it will be rewarded with excellent work! I did my work on artificial skin in 2020 during a COVID-19 lockdown in Moscow. I had a lot of free time and I even recorded a full timelapse with one of the works, which you can find it on YouTube.

- Are you a fan of these new devices like tablets etc? I think it can save a lot of time before a session with a client, if you just design the whole tattoo and print it...
I am a huge fan of modern technology and I try to use it in tattooing. Besides, I like to optimize the session time as much as possible. For example, I do not transfer manually and use a filter in Photoshop. So, you can simply print it out through a transfer printer (Brother, Epson). Also, I use applications and services to improve photos. As for me, the ideal session is when I have prepared a sketch or at least images in advance (agreed with the client), and I come to the session just to do a tattoo.

Q: So many portraits, do you have any favorite person you would like to tattoo on someone's skin? What would be a "dream piece" ?
A: I can't single out one person. I really like musicians, especially from the rock genre. My "dream piece" is a project with Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy Kilmister, it can be a whole sleeve, or maybe half an arm.

Q: As an artist I bet it's very easy to get inspired and be creative (almost) every day, but sometimes a busy schedule can overwhelm people. How do you cheer up yourself? Do you have any interesting hobbies?
A: I try not to overwork too much and keep the balance of work and personal life, so not to "burn out". Regular sport helps me in this. In winter I prefer downhill and cross-country skiing. In summer, I like wake-surfing and going to the gym. Firstly, it boosts my energy. Secondly, it unloads the head well. Music is a huge inspiration. It sounds corny, but it is) When I don't have any strength to work, I need to do other things, which I want at the moment.

Q: How do you see yourself in the feature? Any career goals?
A: In the future, I want to develop my skills as a tattooer and to study academic drawing more deeply. I want to create my own workspace for myself and other like-minded craftsmen. I plan to visit America in the nearest future, it will be interesting to explore this country better.

Q: What tattooing as a profession taught you? Would you change something?
A: To be more responsible, because the tattoos I do for my clients will stay on them to the rest of their life. Also, I want the customer to be satisfied with the result for many years. Furthermore, sociability is an important skill for a tattoo artist. All people are different and you need to have a good approach.

Q: Where are you located? Are you available for bookings? If so, please write down your email.
A: Nowadays, I live and work in Moscow but I plan to move to another country in the nearest future. You can always write to me and find out where I am at the moment.
My email is

Q: Sergey, what would you tell to all young people who are scrolling through Instagram and want to become a tattoo artist? What is the best approach?
A: The main advice is not to be afraid to start tattooing. Be sure to draw and develop this skill! It really helps a lot in tattooing. Your level will grow very quickly if you do a lot of training. I recommend working responsibly and honestly with the client. Always listen to advice or criticism from other experienced tattoo artists.