In the wake of collapsing empires, greatness is often created. This is at least the case of Vitaly Morozov. Born in Moscow during the fall of the USSR, Morozov was far from heaven, but he was able to turn his love for art into a flourishing tattoo career that took him around the world. We sat down, virtually of course, with this Russian tattoo maestro to learn what it was like growing up in Moscow in the 1990s, what led him to his current signature style and why he refined his palettes of bright but limited colors.
How did your childhood in Moscow shape you?
I was born in 1989; these were hard times for Russia. The USSR collapsed, there was an economic crisis in the country, poverty and crime. It was a depressive atmosphere, although as a child I perceived it as the norm. I didn’t have much entertainment and had fun drawing. I was inspired by some American cartoons shown on Russian TV, such as “The Real Ghostbusters” and “Biker Mice from Mars”. I really loved these cartoons and constantly tried to draw something similar. Then my parents bought a VHS recorder and a few movies, including “Aliens” and “Predator.” I watched these films when I was six years old and they left an indelible impression on me and inspired me for many years. I spent my whole childhood drawing aliens, predators and other monsters.
How did you develop your signature tattoo style?
The main reason for changing and developing my style was my dissatisfaction with the quality of my work. This feeling is always present and it is the engine of my progress. I looked at traditional artists and tattoo artists whose work I liked. I took those who had the most interesting work and analyzed exactly what I liked. I borrowed these techniques and tried to draw them in my own way. It’s been going on for years – some techniques have been assimilated and transformed, while others have been abandoned. So I have the style that I have now and I continue to work on it. I think the most important thing when forming a style is to understand what you like to draw and what gives you pleasure in drawing.
What draws you to designing female faces?
For me, a woman’s face is a very expressive subject, it has a strong impact on the viewer. A beautiful female face awakens such emotions in the viewer like no other subject.
Why do you mostly use red and teal ink with your black and gray?
Have you tried other colors? I use red and teal with black because I love this color combination and these colors contrast the most with black. I also tried yellow and green. The yellow is not very tenacious and contrasting, even if I like its rendering on the skin. Green is not bad, but it is not universal. It seems to me that the color should emphasize the mood of the work, and therefore green is only suitable for a limited field of work.
What’s the most valuable life skill you’ve learned from tattooing?
The skills I use in tattooing are generally not applicable in everyday life. But maybe, concentration. When you tattoo, you focus entirely on the process. It also helps in life to concentrate in certain situations.
If you weren’t a tattoo artist, what would you do for a job?
Definitely something related to drawing; I do tattoos because I like to draw. If I wasn’t a tattoo artist, I would like to be an illustrator or a concept artist. I also really like beautiful interiors, so I think I could have been an interior designer. But for me, tattooing is one of the best self-realization activities as an artist. You can independently develop your style as a true canvas artist.