Alexey Minashkin
tattoo guru


Misha Buster
Kurator of


Vladimir Mult
art-tattoo master


Dmitriy Rebus


Make a beauty for me

April 11, 2012

Our ignorance in tattoo sphere can only be compared to our intolerance. Having asked some people who study, make and have tattoos we can draw the conclusion.

Special thanks to the some of you who like the idea of this article. So painted bodies and talks about them as soon as the mockery of simpletons  are on the agenda today.

Tattoo by Amanda Watchob


Where does love for tattoos come from, how are you related to them?

Alexey Minashkin (the Chinese): Who said I loved tattoos? I have  been connected with them for a long time but there’s no love in it.

Misha Buster (Kompost project's сurator): Love is a wrong word for this mixed feeling I have about a certain part of my life. Speaking about tattoos I like to quote an old sailor from the movie “Seryozha” when he was asked by the children what the pictures on his body were and he replied that they were in memory of his stupidity and unculturedness. However, my attitude to them is still very tender.

And I am in all ways connected with them. I have had them since 1988 when I was a member of Moscow underground society and did a lot of foolish things being a man of asocial and wild nature. Then it seemed to be a funny and effective way to be struck out of the Soviet reality. It’s a long story, though. I’ve practised tattooing in the 90’s and I took an active part in the studying and in the making of this phenomena in the post-Soviet Russia of the 2000’s.

Dima Rebus (illustrator Bang! Bang!): I feel love mostly for crazy pictures no matter where they are. So there is a sort of connection between us that can’t fade however hard I rub them with a bath sponge.

Bodyart based on skiff's motif. 2002. Photo by Maksim Poluboyarinov.


Who, why and what for has tattoos?

Alexey Minashkin: A better question is “who hasn’t”. When you answer it you see who has them and what for.

Misha Buster: As soon as it’s already a sort of informal and creative industry I can say that those who want do what they want. Although there are some mastodons that would refuse to tattoo a person if he/she didn’t find the idea clever enough or just because he/she didn’t like it.

It’s no use enumerating why and who does it. But if you are really interested it’s a good object for research. I am already involved in one. We want to take another measurement of the tattooed percentage of our population. As an informative and decorative sign, a tattoo is closely connected to the life of the city and at the same time it’s rather independent. It’s also very interesting as an aspect of personal/collective memory or a communication language. 

And sometimes it’s even an example of modern art. We’ll have to spend much time working and no one can predict the result. Wait and see.

Dima Rebus: Old ladies next door say that criminals, drugtakers, scoundrels, Nickolay Petrovich (a sailor) and I are the only people who have themselves tattooed.

Misha Buster in 1998.


How does a picture fashion trend change, what does it depend on? What is in fashion now? 

Alexey Minashkin: You can always ask the picture couturier about the fashion trend. They seem to be the ones that it depends on.

Misha Buster: Fashion is a meaningless word when we speak about tattooing. It’s a sort of preart, or, as Lyle Tuttle said, it’s the mother of all arts. Tattoo is more an element of style than that of fashion. It’s rather concervative as a means of self-expression but it’s been fast and artistically developing since 1970’s.

And there are some periods when tattoos are booming. It can happen because of the series or international conventions ( an informal kind of sport with its own prizes and styles). We have held such conventions since the early 2000 and this year there is another one in “Arena” club in late May.

Dima Rebus: Justin Bieber is no doubt in fashion now. When I was younger everybody had tribal tattoos that they tattooed each other, and when oldschool style became trendy all those guys have themselves tattooed with anchors and swallows. And then again, when hipsters captivated the cafes and window-sills of all the country the chaps just had no blank skin for their deer and Masonic inscriptions. So they just started disliking hipsters. That’s the stratum. If a Brad Pitt shows cupola and stars tattooed on his chest in a new movie all the boys and girls will very soon look like recidivists.

Old school style tattoo from Kupchino.


Why do all the tattooed pictures look the same? Is it the unwritten law of the genre? 

Alexey Minashkin: Not the tattoos but the minds of the picture couturiers are the same. That’s the reason why all these people have identical tattoos.

Misha Buster: It seems to me that here just one genre is meant – it’s so called traditional (trad) tattoo. They are informative tattoos that have appeared in the European and the US’ navy.It has had its booms and now its international and subcultural revival takes place due to Ed Hardy who has leaked the secret designs of his teacher Jerry the Sailor to the fashion industry.

Dima Rebus: There can be any kind of them. It’s a case of either banal thinking of the client or routine approach to work of the master. Both variants are possible, though.

Layl Tattl on conference in Moscow in 1995.


What are the major tattoo styles? 

Alexey Minashkin: All the styles of the 20th century: oldschool, tribal, realism and biomechanics.

Misha Buster: There is also a Japanese traditional tattoo style horimono. Eastern tattoo style is called oriental. A new round of the technical development caused new trends based on the popularity of a movie, for example. They tend to be new basic styles one day.

Thematic tattoos are another aspect of tattoo culture: football, music, job – these things inspire masters and their clients. You shouldn’t forget about custom as an alternative to styles. Some people go to the concrete master because they like his own style.

Vladimir Mult (art tattoo master): The most popular styles nowadays are oldschool, newschool, photorealism and portraits.

Tattoo by Vladimir Mult


Is it difficult to tattoo any picture you like?

Misha Buster: Nothing is impossible now. The technical and chemical sides of the process enables to make a full body tattoo during a month, everything depends just on the client’s threshold of pain. Some of the masters manage to tattoo a technically difficult and large tattoo in three days of the convention. The medical part is developing as well. Maybe twenty years later we’ll be able to say that a tattoo can be temporary as soon as it can be removed.

Dima Rebus: If the master’s name is Ilya Repin it may well be that one can have anything tattooed, even abstract works. There are many wonderful works of tattoo-art on the Internet that could honour, if possible, any Hermitage by being exhibited.

Pavel "Vamp", 2000


Why are dragons so popular? Did many girls want to have a dragon tattoo after the release of a new movie about James Bond?

Alexey Minashkin: There was the same number of girls as that of boys that wanted to have a tattoo like in  From Dusk Till Dawn movie. Or Serezha.

Misha Buster: Although the contribution that the cinema has made to tattoo culture is outstanding, it’s not the key point. A dragon is a powerful symbol that has always attracted people. And its texture is also perfect to make tattoos.

Vladimir Mult: Dragon is a classical tattoo subject. It has always been demanded with no connection to the movies. 

Dmitry "Hendrikson", 2000


What are the most interesting things to  tattoo? What clients annoy you more often?

Alexey Minashkin: It’s always interesting to deal with people who don’t need tattoos at all. This fact annoys me most of all.

Misha Buster: To watch is more interesting than to tattoo. Untidiness of some clients used to annoy me more than any nonsence I’ve ever heard. It really bugs me!

Vladimir Mult: The process is very interesting, some interesting colour variations. Impatience and irresponsibility are the two things that annoy me most.

Sergey "Jorj", 2000


Who doesn’t need a tattoo at all?

Misha Buster: I can’t say it’s an essential thing in a person’s life. Everybody can live without it.

Dima Rebus: My mother doesn’t need it. Once I offered to tattoo her and she wondered if I were a fool. I guess I should ask my father whether he wants one.

Tattoo by Dima Rebus


What master would you recommend?

Alexey Minashkin: It’s better to have yourself tattooed in the best salons where the best masters work.

Misha Buster: I still know many masters so there would be no names in order not to forget anyone. The main thing is to take care of the level of sterilization in the place where you go and the master’s portfolio. You should choose a person you trust as soon as you are to have this tattoo for a lifetime. This is the answer.