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bogdansorokin introOur guest today comes from Ukraine and represents the Modern Glam Rock scene. His love to the beautiful Japanese culture has been implemented in most parts of his tattoos. So let’s listen to his story.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: When did you get your first tattoo and what was it? How long did it take you to decide to get it?
Bogdan: I was interested in tattoos from an early age. When I was a child, I remember pausing ‘Showdown in Little Tokyo’ on my VCR to look at the painted Yakuza. But I got my first tattoo only when I was 21. It took me a long time to make up my mind. And perhaps it influenced what I decided to get in the end - I clearly knew that I wanted nothing less than a whole “sleeve”. Naturally, it had to be done in Japanese style, with flowers, waves and Oni [supernatural ogres or trolls in Japanese folklore]. Of course, it took more than just one evening to get it done, but I walked out of the first session with my forearm almost completely covered in ornaments.

RoD: How many tattoos do you have? Can you tell us how you got them?
Bogdan: I like large scale works and I perceive them as one big picture, so I don’t think I have too many tattoos: I got both my arms inked, my neck, my chest and my stomach and there’s one more tattoo on my leg. Well and my fingers are inked too. The stories of all my tattoos are the same - I started, and then I couldn’t stop. If I had to tell you what my tattoos mean to me, I would single out four works:
There’s a Facehugger from the movie ‘Alien’ on my stomach. This has been my favourite movie franchise ever since I was in preschool, and this perfect organism created by the mind of H.R. Giger was the love of my life. I really wanted a tattoo with the Alien, but I wanted it to be unique, something that no one else had. And then one day, I was looking in the mirror trying to remove centipedes from my chest, I suddenly realized what I needed to get tattooed on my stomach.
The next significant tattoo is the stars on my hands. The Swedish rock band BACKYARD BABIES were my childhood idols. Unfortunately, very few people know about them in my country. When my tattoo mania progressed and reached my hands, I confidently added the old school stars, exactly the same that the frontman of BACKYARD BABIES’ Nicke Borg had. This was a conscious tribute, a sign of respect.
Next is the word “Starfuck” on my fingers. It’s all very simple, even ironic. STARFUCK is the name of my band. There are eight letters, and I already had the stars on my hands. And having the word “fuck” on my left hand very much highlights my love of shocking the people around me.
There’s also a portrait of Jim Morrison on my leg. THE DOORS and Jim have an intimate meaning to me, so I hid this tattoo. It took me a long time to choose a photo for the sketch, and eventually I went with the bearded and thoughtful Jim, and added an iguana next to him, because “I am the Lizard King, I can do anything!”

RoD: Did you already get all the tattoos that you wanted, or do you plan to get some new ones in the future?
Bogdan: Well, I’m in the process of getting my left arm finished. The next step will be a small addition to my right arm, because that tattoo is the oldest, and over the years I had some ideas of a few things to add and a few things to get fixed.


RoD: Did you get all your tattoos done by the same tattoo artist or by different ones? How do you choose a tattoo artist? And finally, who draws your sketches?
Bogdan: I have gone through six tattoo artists over the years. One artist did not have the level of skill that I was looking for, and then I had to save the day with the help of another. Then another one moved here from Kiev. I had to find another artist to get the dot work and line art tattoos done. He proved to be both a good tattoo artist and a very good painter, who later made sketches for many of my other tattoos, as well as artwork and two album covers for my band. His name is Dima Schegolev, and now he works at a well-known tattoo studio in Kiev. Throughout this past year, I have been getting inked by Mikhail Lugovsky. He works in different styles, has a lot of experience and is as meticulous in his job as I am in mine. He also plays guitar and it is a lot of fun to talk to somebody who plays the same instrument during the sessions. Moreover, Misha is an art school graduate and can make a sketch in seconds. Seriously, he looked at my shoulder and drew a very detailed layout of a sketch in less than a minute!

RoD: Getting tattooed hurts. How do you cope with the pain during the sessions?
Bogdan: It does not hurt! I felt pain twice in my life. The first time was when I got my left nipple pierced and the second time was when it was my right. I am lucky when it comes to tattoos - I have high pain tolerance level and rapid metabolism. It does not hurt and heals quickly.

RoD: Have you ever had any regrets about getting tattooed?  
Bogdan: No, and I think that this widespread opinion that one may regret getting tattoos is a myth and a huge misconception. By the way, only people that don’t have any tattoos can ask a question like: “And what if you regret it or get tired of it later?” Yes, of course you can get tired of that hieroglyph or you can regret getting a tattoo of a cat, which hordes of girls were getting about seven years ago, but this is rather a question of the approach to choosing the right sketch.

RoD: Do you think there are any taboos when it comes to tattoos? What image would you never get yourself and what don’t you like seeing on other people?
Bogdan: I am not afraid of taboos. I thoughtfully approach the idea, the development of the sketch and the choice of the location on my body. But what makes me smile ironically, and what I sometimes even find annoying when I see it on others, are calligraphic inscriptions in Latin, cookie cutter “kitties” and the like, hieroglyphs, butterflies and tramp stamps with tribal tattoos, wings on people’s backs, etc. Fortunately, I see this less and less often. Perhaps now people study the culture of tattoos, well, either that or more and more tattoo artists refuse service to such superficial clients.

RoD: Some people say that the drive to acquire new body art is addictive while others say that it fails to meet the true definition of addiction, simply calling it passion. Is it really impossible to stop?
Bogdan: That’s absolutely correct! But this varies from person to person. I know people who stopped after getting one or a couple of tattoos that carry a certain deep meaning for them, kind of like an intimate sign in ink.

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RoD: Tattoos have become a fashion trend; many people do not care about the meaning behind them, they just want to have something colourful on their skin, to be trendy. Those people often just go to a tattoo salon and ask them to show the available drafts. Tattoo artists are not artists any more, they are kind of like production line workers now. Not all of them, of course. How do you feel about this?
Bogdan: It’s not quite like that. The artistic tattoos that we see on many people these days, have only one meaning - they are decorations. People may add their own hidden meaning to them as much as their imagination allows, but others that will look at them will not be familiar with the deep philosophy behind the picture of a rose and an hourglass and will not be able to “read it”. They will only see a picture of a rose and an hourglass. Tattoos that have a special meaning to certain groups of people, in their essence are not tattoos as we think of them today. They are “secret signs” for prison or army, and not the main thing about them is not the beauty or the quality of work - it is the information about the person wearing them. Of course, for reasons of ignorance or stupidity, you may end up with something similar to those tattoos, but the probability is low.
I don’t see this being an issue for tattoo artists. After all, a tattoo artist without customers, money, ways to use his skills and constant practice will soon begin to look for work in another industry. Another thing is that when you’re in the midst of the tattoo trend, you have more than enough customers, your skill is constantly improving,
and you have enough money to buy high quality equipment and supplies. Such an artist will have more opportunities to create masterpieces because he or she won’t have a hard time finding clients for his conceptual works. But, while such appreciation for tattoos exists, the number of tattoo artists continues to grow, while clients get excited by bargain deals and hurry to the first available newly-emerged tattoo artist. Such bargain hunters then often join the ranks of those who regret their decision later. And when they complain about it to their family and friends, they close the loop, and then it all begins again with the same question that I mentioned earlier: “What if you regret it later or grow tired of it?”

RoD: I would also like to talk about the social aspect of tattoos. Back in the day, many people believed that if you had a tattoo, you would never be successful and would not find a "good" job. Has this mind-set and people’s perception changed or do these prejudices still exist?
Bogdan: As far as I can see - yes, it has changed. It’s just that I’ve always worked in the creative industry where no one cares what you look like, or quite the contrary - where it is preferable to have an appearance that stands out. The employers that were strict and conservative in matters of appearance, have probably realized that the main trait they should be evaluating in an employee is the quality of his work, not his appearance. That’s especially true when everyone is inked and it becomes harder and harder to find a candidate that does not have any tattoos.

RoD: What advice would you give to the people who are going to get their first tattoo? How should they choose a tattoo artist? Should they get it done in colour or in black and white? Can you give any practical advice?
Bogdan: It varies depending on who the person is, but the very basic test is to ask yourself that same question: “What if you regret it or get tired of it later?” By the way I’m being serious now, this will immediately cut off all thoughts of inking inscriptions, hieroglyphs or kitties. And if it does not, it means that the person will not get bored, and for sure they will not regret it. You should not just blindly follow the trend. At one point, tribal tattoos were even more popular than the geometric black work honeycomb patterns that are all the rage today. Experienced artists will always tell you that the only three styles that will never go out of fashion are old school, Japanese style and realism. Also, I would advise against getting small tattoos on your hands if you ever plan or dream of getting a sleeve. Such “islands” are often difficult to fit in the final picture, or you might have to cover them.

When choosing a tattoo artist, I would advise you to look at the photos of his works and then ALWAYS see at least two or three of his tattoos in person. I know some artists that photograph the result in favourable lighting and flattering perspective and then process it using photo editing software. Such works look sad in person, especially when they have already healed, even though they all looked superb in pictures. The choice between going with colour or black & white, depends on your preferences. Don’t be afraid of colour tattoos because they may burn out, fade or smudge - it can happen only if it was done poorly and using cheap supplies. And in that case, you would have the same issues even if it was done in black and white. In conclusion, I want to say that nowadays, when all the girls look like their Instagram “idols”, and the guys with a thick beard all look alike, tattoos are an unmistakable identifier in case you have no idea who just greeted you and what you should talk to them about.

Project by Daria Tessa and Daniela Vorndran, Interview by Iryna Kalenska, Daria Tessa & Perverted-Puppet
Photos: Intro Photo, Photo 3: Roman Voloshin, Photos 1,2: Vita Jarmoluk

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