The geometry of life
Mikhail Nechaev is thirty years old. He has dedicated five of them to tattooing. Today tattoo studios in different parts of Europe collaborate with him. What is the beauty of minimalism and what to do if a client chose the “wrong” tattoo? We’re gonna find out everything in this interview.
– Misha, is it possible to say that the work of a tattoo artist is, in a way, a philosophy of life?
– That’s the only way it works for me. I don’t just apply a picture. In every work I try to express the individuality of a person — his thoughts, emotions, mood. Every client chooses a tattoo that will reflect his personality or remind him of something. This is what people associate themselves with. Of course, the artistic components are important to me, but there should always be something more than just that.
– Are there cases when a client doesn’t really understand why he or she needs a tattoo at all?
– There is another problem that people often choose a tattoo that doesn’t fit into their appearance because of its shape or the place. It happens when they see a cool tattoo on someone and want exact the same one for themselves.
– And then what should they do? Give up on the tattoo?
– No, of course not. In fact, I never reject other people’s ideas and I am always ready to discuss everything with them. Every problem is getting solved during a personal meeting while we’re making a sketch together. We’re choosing the right size and the place. I always create sketches in such a way as to finish the idea of the client, to emphasize his or her individuality. But if we can’t find a connection, we usually say goodbye to each other. I don’t want to do a tattoo that would fell short of the expectations. However, such cases are the exception rather than the rule. Most of my clients have already seen my works on Instagram and contacted me before the session, because they wanted to be sure about the result.
– That’s why it’s so important for you to be on the same wavelength with the client, right?
– Yeah. Moreover, during the work process, you need to live the same emotion. It is clear that the client will have a brighter, sharper one, but it is also a very important part of my work. I don’t just work with my tattoo machine, I live the emotion associated with my client’s tattoo. Many clients share their thoughts with me – why they decided to get a tattoo, what it means to them. It’s actually something intimate. And if a person trusts me, we can assume that we’re feeling the same vibe.
– Why did you choose linework and dotwork as your style?
– I really like minimalism and geometric shapes. This is something that combines simplicity and versatility. With the help of simple lines, you can make a complex composition. By the way, making fine and clear lines is not as easy as it seems. The body is not a flat sheet of paper. At the same time, it is important to understand that the tattoo should look spectacular. Of course, now the equipment is completely different and the ink have an absolutely different quality, too. Now you can apply not just thin but almost microscopic lines. A few years ago this was quite a difficult task for tattooers. But whatever the equipment and ink you have, a lot still depends on artist’s expertise.
– What will the future direction of tattoo industry be?
– Now tattooing is becoming a part of modern art. For example, minimalism in painting can often be seen in tattoos. It’s the same with architecture. Simple and clear lines, geometric shapes are increasingly embodied in tattoos. We moved away from color realism, the future belongs to minimalistic drawing. Well, the industry itself is likely to take its place at the junction of modern art and digital technologies. I also think that the usual tattoo conventions will be changed. It will be more like a large-scale art space, where not only tattoo artists will have an opportunity to show their works.
– What is your purpose for being a tattooer?
– Once again, I will say that a tattoo artist is not just a person who’s drawing on the body. You combine several professions — a tattoo artist, a photographer, and a psychologist. The main goal is to help people become better, discover something new about themselves, get rid of their complexes. Yes, my works, unlike architects, won’t last for many centuries, but they will accompany a person through his life. It is a great responsibility. I really enjoy it because I understand the importance of it to a particular person.
– That’s why customers choose you, isn’t it?
– I have never been able to find a clear answer to that. Drawing a parallel with modern art, it’s like you’re in a gallery with a lot of paintings hanging on the walls. You can walk around all the halls, but only a few works of art will really hook you, or maybe the only one will. I think it’s the same with my works — if a person feels that it’s about him, it’s close to him then he comes to me and gets a tattoo. I have never been a public figure. My works talk about who I am and why I’m here much better than I do.