Cosmic Colorism – Tattoo Ideas, Artists and Designs

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The color is exceptionally powerful. It makes us feel in ways that cannot be expressed in words and defines the impact of the art world. What would Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” be without the stark contrast of swirling blues and yellows? Or how about the vibrant green apple from René Magritte’s “Son of Man”?

In tattooing, color is one of Koral Ladna’s most powerful tools, as it helps her bring her art to life. Ladna packs her work with vivid greens, pinks, oranges and blues, which come together in a stunning signature style she coined cosmic colorism. We caught up with Ladna to find out more about how her tattoo journey started, how her style chose her, and how she thinks her work will stand the test of time.

How did your tattoo career start? I learned to tattoo when I was backpacking through South America in my twenties. I apprenticed with another traveling tattoo artist and learned the old basics of the trade: how to build a machine and how to work with limited supplies in complex conditions. I got my first tattoo in Cartagena, Colombia, it was a blue butterfly with initials. A few months later, I got my first job at a tattoo shop in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico.

How did you develop your signature style? Initially, completely by chance. A few years ago I was working at a walk-in tattoo studio and one day a client came in and said, “I want a Flamingo. I love color and want something cosmic. I thought, “OK, what would this cosmic flamingo look like? What does that mean?” I only had 30 minutes to create the design. So, I did, and it was my very first cosmic colorism tattoo. I’ll be honest, I’m became fascinated with this design. Soon after, I started to receive more and more requests for tattoos in this “cosmic” style. Little by little, I created a design method and a color palette. It was a bit like creating a new language.

Tell us more about how cosmic colorism became your signature style. There is so much that can be said through color – every color is a feeling, an energy, a vibration. Each color appears differently depending on the color next to it. It is the combination of colors that gives the image this “chemical reaction”. For me, the color represents the cosmic energy of the subject and wearer of the tattoo.

Have you always tattooed in color? Since I’ve worked in a few different high street shops over my career, I’ve had the chance to try on almost every style. From fine single-needle line to solid black 25 mag tribal to black and gray, dotwork and many more. Believe it or not, when I started tattooing I thought that one day I would end up being a black and gray artist.

What’s the key to packing bright colors? First of all, it is important to choose the right color tones for the skin you are working on and to create contrast. I always modify my palette according to the person’s skin tone, undertone, pigmentation and lifestyle. The rest comes down to color theory and you can create contrast using complementary colors. I always remember that a bright mid-range color looks much brighter next to a dark or black color. Second, to wrap the solid color, it just needs patience and a good machine. Finally, it also depends on the skin and each individual immune system. Sometimes to get a really long lasting solid color you need a second session, which is always available for free to my clients.

How do you ensure your tattoos will stand the test of time? There are a few factors that protect the longevity of a tattoo. One of them is the size – I don’t do small tattoos. My style has a minimum size and I never go below. The other is contrast – I aim for my work to have a mix of blacks or dark tones that will make the image last a lifetime.

Which artists have influenced your style the most? I am Ukrainian, so I grew up surrounded by traditional folk art, very colorful, geometric and draped in symbolism. I’m also fascinated by folk art from all the countries I’ve lived in and backpacked through. I studied backstrap weaving and shisha lettering in Peru, embroidery in Guatemala, thangka painting in Nepal, beadwork in Mexico, etc. For me, all traditional art forms have a common thread, which I have somehow woven into my vision as an artist.

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