A postcard from a beloved location will remind us of a joyful vacation. But it’s only on rare occasions, once a year at best, that we get to that distant drawer full of bric-a-brac.
A memento tattoo is a much more daring approach to preserving an important experience. It’s also the one that will last and serve as a pleasant reminder almost on a daily basis.
Whether it’s a chestnut leaf, a subway token or Kyiv’s phone code of 044, there are plenty of symbolic designs tattoo enthusiasts can choose from to capture their feelings about Ukraine through ink.
And as the global tattoo culture keeps growing, for some ink fans, the process is actually the other way around – they travel abroad specifically to get tattooed by foreign artists whose style they dig.
Luckily, Ukraine has many tattoo artists with versatile styles and techniques. And their price tags, starting as low as $50, will entice western travelers who would have to spend at least twice as much for the smallest tattoo in their home countries.
Teti Malik, 28, has always been attracted to tattoos as a symbol of rebellion.
So when her friend offered her to practice with his tattoo machine, she didn’t think twice. That same friend was her first client, who got an image of a bee.
Malik mainly draws abstract sketches with elements of calligraphy. She loves blackwork and practices freehand, a technique in which an artist works immediately on the skin, almost without a pre-planned sketch.
She gets inspiration from art history, music and even random blurs she draws on paper or canvas.
Malik’s style has been a hit among foreigners, attracting customers from France, the United States, Switzerland and Egypt.
The artist has an individual approach to each client.
“Every person is unique and if you take into account the anatomy, characteristics and features of each one, perceive the body as the main and beautiful basis for the image, you will certainly come up with an original and special piece,” Malik told the Kyiv Post.
Malik’s price rate starts at $100. Get an appointment via Instagram tetimalik.tattoo.
Because of his passion for drawing as a kid, Eugene Novohatsky’s dad once joked he would become a tattoo artist.
Nobody’s laughing now that Novohatsky, 22, has a line of clients waiting to get inked.
Soon after learning the tattoo craft as a student, Novohatsky got a job at the local 22 tattoo studio, where he has been working for nearly three years now.
Once fascinated by the Chicano and Black&Grey styles, combining black color, graceful thin lines, clear contours, shadows and high contrast, Novohatsky is crafting his own style as a saturated version of the two.
His favorite tattoo themes are Greco-Roman sculpture and architecture, travel and female portraits. All the while, he is open to experiments.
“For me it’s like a challenge, a rebus that I have to solve,” Novohatsky told the Kyiv Post.
One of his most memorable experiences in the studio was when a U.S. client flew all the way to Ukraine just to get inked by Novohatsky. Aside from feeling honored, the artist was also fascinated by working with a dark complexion for the first time, since the customer was African-American. The piece was a sleeve dedicated to the client’s travel adventures.
“It turned out pretty cool!” Novohatsky says.
Novohatsky’s price rate ranges between $360 and $600. Get an appointment via Instagram novohatskytattoo.
At first sight, it is hard to believe that tattoos by Anna Zelenska are real. They look more like watercolor paintings. Her colorful sketches feature movie scenes, reproductions of paintings and detailed portraits of people.
Zelenska thinks that only color can truly convey an emotion, mood or idea that a person wants to express through a tattoo.
Zelenska, 22, caught a bug for drawing when she was a child.
“I always wanted to capture a certain moment in life or a person’s emotion on the paper,” Zelenska told the Kyiv Post.
Now she does it on skin, having become a tattoo artist five years ago.
Zelenska loves listening to clients’ stories of coming up with a certain design – what’s the experience that pushed them to get it and what senses they put into it.
And some stories amaze her above expectation.
Once, a woman made a surprise for her boyfriend by bringing him with his eyes closed to Zelenska’s tattoo salon. When he opened his eyes, he had a fresh tattoo of an ultrasound photo of an unborn child – that’s how he found out he was soon to become a father.
Zelenska’s other customer once got a tattoo based on a drawing made by her four-year-old daughter, capturing the vision of this world through the eyes of her child.
The tattoo culture is at times perceived as something trendy and superficial. But Zelenska looks deeper.
“The main thing is the emotion that a person puts into the sketch,” the artist said. “And the emotion that I feel in the process,” she added.
Zelenska’s price rate starts at $200. Get an appointment via Instagram zelenskaya.tattoo or email [email protected].
Dima Homa’s career is a real “through the thorns to the stars” story.
He discovered a drive for tattoos in high school, was drawing day and night and attended multiple workshops and ink festivals only to face a number of rejections when he applied for work.
But Homa didn’t give up. Instead, he set up a small studio in a cupboard. He promoted himself by sharing his contacts with every person he met who had at least one tattoo.
All that hard work and dedication paid off. The artist now has his own studio that has welcomed customers from the United States, Canada, Europe, Dubai, Turkey and China.
Homa, 23, became popular thanks to his signature colored tattoo portraits of famous personalities and fictional characters.
The artist says that he always steps in to explain the cultural context of a sketch to a client when he sees that they clearly don’t understand it and are driven solely by its trendiness. He says that he even lost customers because of his honesty but has never regretted it.
“Money for me is an accompanying and pleasant bonus,” Homa told the Kyiv Post.
Homa’s price rate starts at $200 per session. Get an appointment via Instagram: dima_homaa.
Mary Tereshchenko has a thing for plants.
She grows them at home, volunteers in a local botanical garden and runs a plant store.
It’s no wonder that her tattoo portfolio is another embodiment of that love – images of olive branches, lotus flowers and blooming cacti are all over her clients’ bodies.
“Nature is the largest collection of ideas that inspires me with its diversity,” Tereshchenko, 31, told the Kyiv Post.
She works in a style called linework, which mixes hatching shadows and thin lines.
The artist values the exclusivity of a tattoo. That’s why she never copies or repeats sketches, but always draws them herself. She also stubbornly avoids tattoo clichés, like dandelions, lavender sprigs or flocks of birds.
Tereshchenko often gets invitations from foreign studios to join as a visiting artist. She has temporarily worked in India, Germany, Italy and Poland so far. As soon as international travel resumes, the artist wants to continue traveling and tattooing people abroad. She says that it’s an amazing opportunity to combine professional experience with discovering new destinations.
“This is one of the most interesting creative professions,” she says.
Tereshchenko’s price rate starts at $100. Get an appointment via Instagram mary_tereshchenko.
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