Having confessed that the idea of ink under the skin scared him as a child, and that his mother was ready to kill him upon getting his first tattoo, Oleg Turyanskiy was perhaps not the most likely candidate for a tattoo artist. Yet 2010 marks the tenth year of Oleg’s strong career and ever-growing portfolio of diverse work.
Oleg Turyanskiy opened his first tattoo studio in September 2000, and when he is not spending his time as a travelling artist visiting all corners of the globe, he resides in Moscow in his native Russia where he successfully runs ‘Oleg’s Private Studio and Art Gallery’.
Having been able to draw inspiration from the many differing styles of tattooing he has come across on his travels, Oleg’s range of work is vast, using both colour and black and grey with a depth that many others strive for. Although his pieces primarily boast realism, he juxtaposes this with the surreal and unusual in some of his pieces, drawing in elements from a range of tattooing styles into one tattoo. For some tattooists, this could be risky territory. For Oleg, it’s nothing but exquisite work.
What are your earliest memories of tattoos? and what inspired you to start tattooing? When did you start and where?
Once when I was 11 or so I saw a man, who was covered with something blue, you know? (It was long ago and tattoos never looked as good as they do now) and I understood it hadn’t been done with pen or something like that, it looked very different from what probably all children draw on each other or themselves. And it seemed as if it was under the skin somehow. I couldn’t get how it had been done then, but I remember that the thought of putting ink under the skin scared me at the time. I think some kind of magic, which has a place in this profession. I think tattooing really is something like magic, something completely different from drawing on a paper or other surfaces.
It was in September 2000. I started a small tattoo shop and I was doing very small and simple tattoos there.
Where do you think your interest in tattoos and tattooing comes from?
I think it was drawing and a wish to try something new, on new surfaces.
At what age did you get your first tattoo and by whom?
It was a few months after I started tattooing, I was 23 then. I met a guy who was a bit more experienced than me. I didn’t know him well, though. Once we got drunk and he did my first tattoo. My mother was ready to kill me after.
Did tattooing come easily to you from the off?
Not really, I remember I wanted to give it up, but I carried on. I’m very glad I did.
Do you think an apprenticeship is the best way to learn the business?
Sometimes. You know, I think it depends. And it’s hard to find a good teacher, that’s the main problem.
What’s the atmosphere and ambience like in the studio?
I like music, but something calm, not very loud, something which let’s you to focus on your work. No black metal or other loud stuff. Not too many people, no drama around as well. I need to be concentrated on what I do, that’s the best way to create for me.
Have you worked at many conventions?
Yes. Some in the US, Milan, Rome, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Berlin, Moscow, St. Petersburg.
How did people at the conventions perceive your work?
I always try to do my best. Don’t remember anybody spitting in my face, you know... haha!
Did you pick up any additional tips and tricks from the artists working at the conventions?
Yes, yes, and yes again. And I can say even more so – I think it’s the best way to learn and move forward. All books and videos contain information but the best way to learn is to see other people working in the flesh. That’s my opinion.
Have you worked overseas at all? Do you find that certain styles are prevalent depending on whereabouts you are?
Yes. Not much in Europe, though when I worked at the Rome and Milan conventions I noticed that the greatest part of artists work was in traditional style. Speaking about the US, I think people prefer to use bright and even acid colours in tattoos, it doesn’t matter what the subject is; while in Russia for instance, people prefer black & grey.
During your trips abroad, have you noticed any particular areas that are more welcoming to tattoos and tattooists than others?
I’ve noticed that tattoos are more popular in the States and many more people are covered with them, but Europe is very welcoming to artists. I think Holland and Amsterdam especially, in Italy there are some very good conventions and people are interested in tattoos a lot.
Who are your main influences, including both tattooists and the more traditional artists?
The main influence on me was my grandmother, who read me a lot of fairy tales when I was a little kid. Also I think my father who was a mountain climbing guide, who let me to go hiking with him, and I found nature was a big inspiration in my work. People whose tattoos and art make me want more. The way they change reality and visualize their thoughts makes me work more, draw and look carefully at the world around me. Their art helps me grow and never stop progessing.
I would name Simon Bisley, Gris Grimly, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Stan Winston, Tim Burton’s vision, Brian Froud, Filip Leu, Bob Tyrrell, Robert Hernandez, Adam Barton, Nick Baxter, Shige, James Bama and others.
Do you have a favourite style of tattooing? Can you describe your own style?
I wouldn’t say I have a favourite style. I try to work in different styles, but I’m more into realism or something close to it; though I like to use all the best from all styles and combine everything giving life to something new if I can.
What is it about your chosen area of expertise that you enjoy so much? Why were you drawn to it?
I enjoy the freedom. I can draw a very realistic crow and clouds in say, a Japanese style as a background and add something cartoonish and new schoolish and everything will work in this picture with completely different styles used.
How do you go about designing a tattoo? What processes do you go through to get from the initial idea to the finalised design?
The first thing is an idea for sure. Then I usually draw several simple sketches to understand the form, position etc, then, when I like something, I add details to a bigger version and get the final product.
Do your clients tend to have set ideas of how the tattoo should look, or do they give you a concept to work from and let you control the outcome?
Most of my clients trust me and like my own vision of things, so they come with an idea and I just visualize it. I think that’s the best way for me, because when I have too many borders I can’t cross, I don’t feel any inspiration to work and that means nothing good will appear in the end. The thing is, if you don’t trust me as a professional and allow me to do my work, then you may have come to wrong tattoo artist I think. Yeah, sometimes even that happens.
Where do you draw the line on what you will and won’t tattoo?
There are a lot of things that help me to make a decision if I’m interested in tattooing something or not. For instance, if a client tries to show me something, a better way to do my job, I don’t think anything will work out after, so if I don’t have understanding with a client I send him or her away.
Also a very popular thing is to try and fit too many details into too small a piece of body. If I explain that we should do the tattoo bigger or smaller but make a slight adaptation, which will be more suitable and the answer is “I want exactly what is on the picture and I’m not going to do it bigger” that doesn’t work either.
I don’t want to deal with that person anymore; even if some time later he/she realises that I was right.
When I come to work I want to tattoo and not spend all day explaining why this and why that. Also it depends on the idea/subject and if it’s close to me or not, if I’m interested, or it’s just another stupid idea, you know. Sometimes I’m just lazy and only want to tattoo my own ideas haha!
How do you relax and spend time away from tattooing?
I spend time with my family, sleep, watch movies, have fun with my wife, draw...
Who has tattooed you?
My friend, a tattoo artist from Russia.
Are there any other artists that you’re planning to get work from?
Too many plans, I haven’t made up my mind yet.
Do you work in any other mediums, e.g. sculpture, painting? Do these pursuits influence your tattooing work at all?
Yes, I love acrylic and oil painting, sometimes even more than tattooing, because there is more freedom.
What’s your favourite part of being an artist?
Travelling, creating something new; meeting new people and learning.
Have you seen any changes in the tattoo industry that worry or concern you?
I like that tattooing has become much more popular recently, it’s a special kind of art, and now all the artists have much more freedom because of new materials and supplies.
Is there anybody you would like to thank for helping you over the years?
Yes, my wife and my parents.
Is there any other information that you would like to add?
Yes. I had dreamed about seeing U.F.O. for all my life and it finally happened this year, so I’m happy!
Oleg’s private studio and art gallery
12 Shenkurskiy proezd,