Artist Profile: Ivana Tattoo Art
The work of Slovakian tattooist Ivana Belakova of Ivana Tattoo Art is hard to forget. Her style blends street and graphic art, infusing it with what she calls "funky color," to an effect that is unique and exciting. The self-taught artist did her first tattoo about 12 years ago, and since that time, has earned a reputation worldwide, not only for her tattoos but fine art as well. Currently, Ivana lives and works in Los Angeles, but is constantly traveling, so I was thrilled that she took the time to answer some questions for Needles and Sins.What's the achievement that you're most proud of?
If you met someone who was not familiar with your artwork and asked you about it, what would you tell her?
I would say I do funky color. It's probably the closest how can I describe my style. I do enjoy doing "modern" funky looking designs: a mix of street art and graphic art...a bit of realism at the same time. Yet, I am open minded to try new things that are very different from my particular style.
At the moment, I am doing more "street art" looking tattoos. I was a bit tired of doing realistic looking designs and I'm getting back to my "roots" now, I totally enjoy graffiti style artwork. I just want to have more fun and freedom in my work!
I look at the tattoos I did yesterday, and I would change them today. My style is constantly evolving, but there's similarity in my work when it comes to colors. With every tattoo I do, I'm learning something new and the level I'm at right now is not defined and never will be. My mind is constantly changing; so for me, it's a very natural process of evolving as an artist and as a person. I do what I feel at that particular moment. Every person is so different and every one of them gives me a different vibe.
You've been interviewed for so many different magazines, and many features on tattooists, in general, tend to focus on the same questions. Is there anything you'd like to say about your work that I haven't before?
Perhaps how I see and how I feel about my tattoos...I consider my tattoos like a form of contemporary art. My tattoos are not probably masterpieces like whole body suits or they are not coming from an old tradition; yet, they are important to be here. I consider tattoos as a serious art form; it is so raw and unique especially when it's made the right way on a professional level.
When it comes to me, the most important tattoos are when I feel I pushed boundaries within myself. When I come up with something new, when I create something different. When I felt I have moved a bit forward. Those are definitely the most important and meaningful tattoos for me.
I am proud of being myself in a position where I can choose my work, to have a privilege to attend all major tattoo convention all around the world...to work with one of the best artists in the industry...to have my freedom and fun lifestyle.
I am also proud of winning my jumper (jacket) after drinking 10 beefeaters (gin/tonic) in this pub in Slovakia! I am living my dream!
What tattoo projects do you tend to prefer and what do you tend to refuse?
I prefer to do original funky designs where I have lots of freedom to do whatever I please. I enjoy to do nature based things like animals or flowers for sure, but I do like variety, so it really depends of subject. I refuse to tattoo any racists symbols or I don't want to tattoo for example Japanese tattoos also, as I am not very familiar with their culture and their approach. I believe there is strong meaning behind it and I would not like to destroy that. And there are also some body parts which I refused to tattoo in past.
Tell me about your book "Narcissistic Rockstar" -- what the book features and its highlights.
My book "Narcissistic Rockstar" includes 120 full-color volume loaded with 100+ photos of my tattoos, illustrations and some personal writings. There's some pictures of my wold work, tattoos that I enjoyed at the time of making, some almost 4 years old. I also included a large number of unreleased photos specifically for the book. The book is basically a summary of my work, thoughts and lifestyle. I put a lot of myself in the book and I hope people who do not follow my work will also enjoy it.
I wanted to do something for my customers or anyone who likes my work. I've been asked if I sell my artwork before yet besides giving them a tattoo I didn't really have anything else. This book is a mixture of all my artwork in its various mediums. There's also "nothing." Literally. And some disco. ;)
As for highlights, I would definitely say it's my work people haven't seen yet anywhere else. My main goal was to promote my art, not the other way round. I felt like people should also know about me a bit, so they could better understand who I am as an artist.
It may be purchased directly from the publisher in hardcover format or as a digital download for your iPad or iPhone. I feel very privileged for sure to put a book together! As long as I can "give" something to people.. as long as I have something to share!
What are your upcoming travel plans?
My plans for next few months: I will be based in Los Angeles. I am going to attend few of conventions including Tattoo convention La Palooza, Miami (JAN 3-5th 2014); Le Mondial du Tatouage, Paris (March 7-8-9) 2014; Tattoo Ink Explosion, March 15&16th 2014 in Moenchengladbach/Germany; International tattoo convention, Sep 26-28th 2014, London.
Enjoy more of Ivana's work on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.