Levgen Kynsh had no plans to become a tattoo artist when he was younger. In fact, he even followed an entirely different career path – one that might just surprise you. Despite having no formal artistic training, he’s making waves in the tattoo industry with his use of dynamic color and his own personal style. Kynsh took a moment to sit down with us and discuss his work, his history, and his own style preferences. Take a look.
What tattoo studio do you work out of?
I work at Voice of Ink Tattoo Studio.
When did you first discover you were interested in tattooing?
I’ve been interested in tattoo culture since 2004, when I saw my friend draw a design for a tattoo.
Obviously, tattooing takes a considerable art skill. Do you have any formal or special art training or are you self-taught?
I studied at a medical university for 8 years and was ready to be a doctor, which meant there was no time for art classes or training – I had to teach myself. Next year I’m planning on going back to school to take a few art classes.
Do you prefer to work in color or black and grey?
I prefer to color tattoos, using contrasts, and bright and light colors. Sometimes I try to mix color and black/gray (if I have good ideas for it, of course). Working only with monochrome color is boring to me. I like to mix colors in the process and find something new.
What was your favorite piece to do and why?
I don’t have a favorite piece. For me, it is more important and interesting to work with a good person and a good idea. When I can work with my customer to create something new and deep together, the project will have more meaning and a bigger impact on others.
What is your favorite style of tattoo to do? Is it easier for you because you favorite it or harder?
Actually, I like different styles. I like neo-traditional and new school tattoos very much – I like new Japanese and realistic. I believe art should be created by a true artist who understands how to connect the art with the body. As far as style, I prefer realism and enjoy the process of transferring a picture from a photo to the skin, making soft shading, using contrast between colors, conveying the mood of the project, etc.
What advice do you give clients who are getting their first tattoo?
For everyone planning to get their first tattoo, I recommend you understand that a quality tattoo in good tattoo studio from professional artist will NOT be cheap. If you want good quality and an individual approach from an artist, then you must pay for it. If you understand this, then go find a professional tattoo studio with good artists, check their portfolios, discuss everything with your artist and trust him/her. Very often customers want to put a lot of details/elements in a project or they have their own vision of what the tattoo should look like – they don’t understand the concept that a tattoo is on the skin, not a picture on the screen of your laptop. Try to listen to your artist and be willing to work with them so you can create the project together.
Do you have any advice for budding tattoo artists?
When started tattooing 9 years ago, I was not sure that things would turn out well. I just knew that liked to draw very much, and this desire led me to take my first steps as a tattoo artist. I suggest the same to everyone. If you like art and feel led to be a tattoo artist, then do it. The tattoo industry is so big now – the training you need is highly accessible. You can find everything you need to train on your own, making your first dots and lines on fake skin, for example.
I see on your Facebook page that you attend quite a few Conventions/Festivals. Do you enjoy tattooing at these events or do you prefer to work in your home base shop?
I like working at tattoo conventions and in the studio. I don’t prefer one of the other. What’s cool about tattoo festivals is that you get to meet a lot of cool tattoo artists and painters. You make a lot of friends and talk with like-minded people about the world of art. You get to see tattoos from other artists and learn about their process. I think every tattoo event is a great opportunity for artists to get inspired. I highly recommend attending at least one in your lifetime!
What inspires you the most? Do you have something that is your go-to before starting a big piece to really get you going?
I get most of my inspiration from my customers. Everyone comes with their own ideas and custom vision of a project, with their own private story. The more I learn about my customer, the more I can envision the design of their tattoo in my head. Of course, everyone is different. Sometimes I don’t understand what the customer is trying to express or I can’t make a connection with the customer. In those cases, I cancel the appointment. Making a good tattoo is more important than filling my calendar for the year.
Do you have any tricks or tips that help keep you from getting rusty in less-popular styles?
No, if a customer requests a style I don’t specialize or am “rusty” in, I just don’t take the appointment. I tell my customers that I don’t work in that particular style and suggest other artists who do.
A lot of artists have a particular playlist or type of music that they listen to when they’re trying to ‘get in the zone.’ Do you have a go-to music choice or do you prefer silence?
No, no, no. I hate to work in silence. I like to talk a lot if I’m in a good mood and I like to listen to a lot of different music. We have some preferred radio stations and particular playlists. In our studio, you can hear Rock, Metal, Rap, Jazz, R’n’B, and more. If I come to the studio in a bad mood then I put in my earphones, turn on my MP3 player, and go into my private world.
Did you always know you wanted to work in the art/tattoo world or did you have other aspirations as a child?
I’ve liked art and have been drawing since I was a child – I would make drawings all the time, everywhere I’d go. But I never thought that I can to turn this passion/hobby into a career.
Banner image credit: Kamila Burzymowska