Ok, Ben, share your secrets with us. Okay, bro. So, well, my style basically consists of three simple steps. First of all, I make a large common color spot, I make a color blurr with large soft magnums, you know, it’s like if you’re near-sighted, and you see any picture defocused. Basically, I do the same thing with magnums. – With which ones?
– I usually work with 35RM, needles’ configuration can vary depending on size. For example, today we finish a sleeve, And right now I’m usuing a 13RM. Long tapered. A 35RM. And you can see some pieces finished here. I’ve made a common color spot, later, when I’ll have basic spots finished, I’ll use RS for texturing, here, you can see a healed spot of it. All these elements have been done with a large RS. Then I make fine texture, this part is also healed. Here you can also see a place where the vaccination scar is, and no ink could cover it, so on every spot I work three times. What do you mean? Well, technically, you can see it as I work, first, I make a common color spot, like this. I place a needle practically horizontally, to insert ink flat into skin. See, I’ve make it with one movement, I do have some small spots with no ink, but you can see a color spot. Next, I wash needles. And mix it with a more purple-ish tint I need. – So, you’ve made it more purple?
– Yeah. Also, I can use a soft magnum for big groups of needles. Wait, so, you’ve used blue ink at first and then added some purple with water, right? Yes, exactly. To make a smooth gradient. Also, I work with a corner, it’s really important to make gradient texture, to save time, you can sometimes use not a RS, but just a corner of a magnum to add texture. That’s cool. Tell us more about multiple layers of color, ’cause realistic artists put one layer over another, then it all drops out, heals badly, and they blame one’s skin for it. But, as far as I understand, you try not to make dozens of layers on the same spot. Look, I make one layer, really quickly and dense due to horizontal momevents of a needle. I wipe it off, and you can see a pretty dense layer. I don’t pay attention to these small empty places. It’s absolutely fine, it’ll add more texture. When I make space landscapes, even faults of color filling or I’d rather say nuances to make them count. Because I need to be able to finish a sleeve in three sessions. That’s how it works now with a modern greedy client. But it’s much better than… Remember, how people used to kick around just one sleeve for years? – Of course! – And it would fade on top before they finish bottom part.
– Sure. Then they added some color on the top part, and it was an endless cycle. A sleeve used to be done in… 10-15 years ago a colored sleeve was made in 10 sessions, 3-4 hours each. – At minimum.
– It was a usual thing. It used to be considered quick. But as of today I usually work on an average arm, if we talk about 100% color filling, for three full day sessions. Full day is around 5-6 hours of work. As I see, sometimes you have acute angle, but sometimes work at straight angle. Perpendicular. Why so? It’s all aimed at better control over one spot. If I need more control for filling, I place a machine more vertically, and I’m sure which shape I will make. Because when I place it horizontally, that will end in a color spot. For a defocused blurr, which I’ll need to work through. But somewhere I need pure color, and I won’t work over it with RS or textured RLs. I need pure tint, so I make straight angle. You mean, for pure color you need to make it dense, with no gaps. So you won’t need to add any other tint.
– Yeah, exactly. So, if I get you right, when I asked about realists making dozens of layers, they make it differently. They make one tint, then add some other tint, though it’s mostly usual for portraitist. Trust me, in my work I make it all the same, here you can see, for example, here’s the spot, it’s absolutely fresh, but I’ll get back to it soon with both black and white. – But here I can see some gaps.
– Of course. These gaps will become texture. For a realistic artist it’s mportant to have no gap left. No single pixel of empty skin. And for black work as well. (un-PC joke on realists) (another un-PC joke on realists) Look, here I have a more acute angle to make textred rays of light which will then become aurora-like. If I needed to make a defocused spot, say, like here, I’d take a huge magnum, a soft magnum and would make a color blurr. People often ask me: “Ben, how do you make stars?” Wait, wait, I’ll tell everyone how Ben makes stars. He has this purple nasal drops, and then sneezes on a client, right? No, I’d have to drop white ink into my nose. So, I often hear this question, and the answer is very simple. To make this shimmering effect I make it in such a way. Leaving gaps for stars would make my session 10 hours long instead of 5-6 hours. ‘Cause it’s a real pain in the ass to think through all these moments. So, I leave gaps only for 30-40% of stars See all these napkins? It’s all covered in them. He uses tons of them. So, I leave some gaps. There I make the brightest stars, all the others are made over the background. And their brightness becomes 50% less, thus we have this shimmering effect. So, some of them are distant, some are bright. Like here, above purple ink, right? Yes, these stars have been made over a color background. But if we have a look… Zoom it out. So, first of all you notice these ones, made in gaps. And at a closer study we see these small ones. They still can be seen, but thay are 50% less bright, making a needed effect. Like they are somewhere far. So, right now I’ll use texture on a common color spot, I have a 15RS here, and we start adding shades. Here I’ve finished one, as you can see. And here we make a darker dispersion. What is this darker dispersion? Okay, imagine you have a nebula. Somewhere it’s darker, like here, we’ve made it darker. And now I do all the same here, over a background. I add darker tink. Look. And here I have the same effect as on the right side. And finally, on the brightest spots, like here, brighter dispersion. I’ll use textured RL, 5 or 7. – Where you have gaps?
– Yes, sometimes even over color, to make it lighter. It’s absolutely ok to do so. So, to a certain extent it’s okay for ski, right? Yes, I can work with green ink somewhere near, even with black ink, and it won’t get dirty, due to high speed of tattooing. Many artists who started tattooing on artificial leather, and haven’t tried such an old-fashioned way as tattooing an orange… – A what? An orange?
– An orange. You can easily see how skin gets gamaged on an orange. So, take an orange, take a tattoo machine and work over the same place again and again. And you’ll see how pores of this orange will break into mush. It’s the same with skin. Basically, the more you work over the same place the more chances ink will get dirty. And the quicker you work, the brighter ink will heal, the less scars you’ll have, that will replace damaged cells, the brighter will be your tattoo. Vlad, actually, I can flip it head over heels. So, now, on a destroyed planet I will make it vice versa. First I’ll make texture and only then I’ll make a common blurr. I’ll work with RMs over this texture. You make it to prevent transfer from running? Transfer doesn’t run at all now. Modern technics for transferring an image allow me to… Actually, the problem is that transfer is very hard to wipe off after tattooing. And sometimes it’s really disturbing when you make a photo of your work. – Especially if there are some light colors?
– Yes, sure. – It’s transparent.
– It’s a nightmare with portraits. Everytime I wipe ink off, I see all the transfer lines. So each year I use transfer less and less even for difficult works, where it’s needed. I tend to use my artistick skills and redrawing. For me it now looks like some scribbles, but when it’ll become a whole concept… The same as it happens in painting. You know, my style is really like painting, because it’s chaotic movements of a hand, that never copy the texture that we can see on a print. Hi! Just a second. So, your movents are very natural, the way a hand should move. You need to have straight lines in traditional and ornamental works, where you can break your wrist. And here you move your hand as you want it.
– You are absolutely right. The shaking hand effect, as I’ve called it during my first years of work, allows me to create natural textures, Have a look, say, at the Earth. Have a look at rocks, at cliffs. You’ll see no structure there. There are no strict shapes. You’ll see the chaos of the nature that creates needed forms. The same is with tattooing. Say, when I make some small trees, with leaves, or some stone texture, most natural textures are easier to make with this shaking hand effect. So, I take a machine and make chaotic movements. I keep in mind color gradient, more or less, and add ink of a neeeded shade in a needed zone. But, adding it is pretty chaotic It’s ultimate freedom. Why I loved space so much, because it gives you this freedom, freedom to create. You create worlds during the whole session, and this is awesome. Yes, that’s cool, but I think that it’s less tiresome with some geometry.
– Of course. Thought transferring can take you three hours. Sure, sure. You know, an ornamental sleeve… I can call myself a multi-instrumentalist, if you ask me to make an ornamental sleeve, I’ll make it perfect, but… It will take me much more time than a sleeve in space, landscape or realism styles. And it’s more pleasant. When I was still tattooing, I got really tired with lots of lines, when you need to move your hands in this unusual manner. But when I was covering large areas in black, I turned my mind off and enjoyed the process. Sure. People often ask me: “Why space, Ben?” I chose it absolutely randomly. That was simply a style that was in harmony with my actions. With my movements. I remember these textures easily, I make them easily, that’s why I do it. Usually when working on space themes I ask my clients to accept… You know, some people ask for, say, a red arm. Yes, that may be fun, but I always say that a tattoo is a decoration and it shoud be “readable” from a distance of 1.5-2 or even 3 meters. So, you need to understad which object is what. A planet or a star. It should look good from 1.5m Bright, contrastive, so I always say, if you want space, please, let’s have many colors. If you have cool tints, we’ll still use some warm tints. I mean, yes, you may like… I don’t know, say, he wants a pink space. Yes, ok, but I’ll make a bit of blue, a bit of turquoise, that will give contrast we need for a tattoo not to look as a mess. Look, now I’ll be using dark ink near light parts. Now I take dark blue ink and here, look. Then wipe it off. Voila.
– Nice trick. And nothing gets dirty. Here I have some light blue spots. It all depends on your technique and on the amount of gaps. And the quality of gaps, which is a combination of needles and a machine, as I understand. Of course. It took me years to choose needed groups of needles, because new models appear every day, each year is some new trend, builders start with good machines, but then their quality becomes worse, as in every other sphere. I won’t give you names, but anyway I’ve noticed it many times, that first model is of awesome quality, then it gets worse, then different producers can’t get a latching system, some cartridges fit well, others don’t fit at all. But actually the problem is not the qualuty, but modulation, because for your style to completely match what you want it to look like, you need to try tons of needles by hundreds of producers, groups, and tempers. We’ll have a list of configurations in the end of the video, without any names. I think, you can get needles more or less like them from arious producers. Honestly, for all my works I use, first of all, soft magnum around 11-13. – By soft magnum you mean Round Magnum?
– RM, yes. A magnum which is curved. Also, I use 35 groups of needles, most commonly, long tempered. Because they pierce skin most quickly. Sometimes, during long sessions, I have to change some specific needles, say, I use the same needle for 2-3 hours, it will get blunt, and if you change it, neither you, nor client will notice it. But having changed it, you see how quicker ink gets in. And less damage also. So yes, needles get blunt. So, Ben, here’s a pretty difficult spot. We’ve already worked here a little an hour ago, I can see the guy wincing, so, what final nuances do you have? To make it all quick for your client not to suffer? As I understand, it’s better to leave this place alone after 5 hours? Of course. I hope, in 5 hours we’ll finally be home. Today we’re working on a very difficult connecting spot, we have top and bottom already done, today we have an elbow, this place is always very painful for a client, every joint has more dense nervous structure, so if a client can’t bear the pain, I use analgesics, during past half a year I’ve tried many of them. And, unfortunately, most of them have disadvantages. Next to no analgesics… Shoot, why the sound has changed? You moved your finger a little. – Press it gently, you’ll hear.
– No, no, no. It’s something with the motor. It’s not the motor. It’s the grip. See these little rubbers? And the cartridge is rubbing against its edges. Like microns. The motor will be working for years.
-Yeah. It’s the sound of rubbing. And the only possible thing is this stick wobbling in kwadron. – Hear? Depending on my direction it starts making this farting noise.
– Yeah, it’s the stick. It’s wobbling. If you grease it’s end with vaselin, it will stop. Suck a life hack. Especially for kwadron cartridges. So, guys, you take this cartridge, clean, just unpacked, on a clean table, and grease it’s end with vaselin. Or add some silicon oil, which is even better. And your cartridge will make less noise during work, and it simply will work better. ‘Cause it’s just plastic rubbing against plastic. And it may cause trouble. So, let’s get back to my experiments with analgesics. Today artists use two main types of analgesics, which are preliminary analgesic applications, about an hour before session. These analgesics are TKTX, Dr Numb and their analogues, they contain around 5, but some producers say up to 35% lidocaine in ointment. So, you make this application, and any analgesics I’ve tried, depending on a client, of course, you leave it for an hour. After an hour you feel everything. Except for around 10% of my clients, who can last for 1.5 hour. And a client can’t normally stand the pain, and I’ll explain you why. If you endure pain with no analgesic, your brain produces serotonin, to trick you, so you start associating it… There’s even a term “tatt addict”, when a person starts associating pain with something good due to this serotonin rush. And clients come back for another dose of it, though they feel pain and their system is going crazy. So, yes, it’s a chemical addiction, just to endure pain. So, if you’re a realist with huge projects you need your client to endure 5-6 hours even if he has no pain threshold at all. What I’ve been doing. Rarely I used analgesics on damaged skin, having looked at my colleagues , ’cause artists endure pain worse than clients. Have a look at me. I haven’t been doing it in years, because it’s so painful! Yeah, exactly. An artist having a tattoo done? Come on.
– Tattos are painful. That’s why I have only such little trash done. – No large tattoos, never.
– Maybe, I’ll try something like this. My latest work is by my 5 y.o. daughter. Cool. So, after preanalgesic wears off, I sometimes use analgesic on damaged skin. The most popular in Russia is Sustain. For me personally Sustain has a disadvantage, it’s a really cool analgesic, the best one, after a French ointment, it’s universal, can be used before and during work. – You mean gel Sustain?
– Yes, the gel. For damaged skin. So, during first 1.5 hour I had enough damage done, and then this gel gets into it. But it has a disadvantage. After you’ve finished your work, all this gel that was soaked in gets out. And it gets out only in some particular places. I’ve noticed, as well as many my colleagues all around Russia, that after Sustain, we have the same picture: it seems that several pixels drop out. A gap of 2-3 square mm. It gets out accumulatively. A gap here, a gap there. – And I have no idea why.
– I’ve studied this question. First, you can’t use it more than once. Because it has tons of adrenalin in it. To prevent bleeding and for gel not to run. So it leads to vessel constriction, you might have seen no blood.
– No blood at all. – As soon as it starts bleeding, it wears off.
– Yeah. right. So. When vessels are constricted, cells don’t get enough oxygen, they don’t breathe, and it causes partial tissue loss, so a cell practically dies. – Dear God.
– And the more you use it, the more gaps you get. If you use too much of it and more than twice, say, thrice on a large tattoo, I can guarantee it will heal badly. I’ve never seen otherwise. You’ll have huge bald patches on it. Yeah, that’s horrible. That’s why I can’t recommend any gel as a good analgesic method, that can be found on the market, no can last for 5 hours session and make you numb. So, due to the lack of clinical studies and I’d say that our industry is somewhat underground still, being only 70 y.o., end of WW2, and it’s the beginning of tattoo as a form of art.
– Though we export great artists. And machines.
(yet another un-PC joke)