Ukrainian blackwork Tattooer Ien Levin talks about one of his newest pieces; taking an unusual and innovative twist on hand tattooing.
SB: What does the expression ”Sang Bleu” mean to you personally?
IL: On one hand I like the idea of it describing something hierarchical, or royal socially. In terms of tattoo, it can manifest as something executed with class and not over-done or over-popular: similar to how illustrative blackwork tattooing exists at the moment. The pronunciation and meaning of Sang Bleu match perfectly as for me.
SB: Who was the customer for the piece? What was the relevance to Sang Bleu for him personally?
IL:The customer is my old friend Sergey Glazgo. As well as being a street photographer, he is also my Tattoo model. He wasn’t aware of the concept before hand but once I presented it to him, he was keen to have it done as a new addition to the other work I have done on him.
SB: Why rune style particularly and why knuckles specifically?
IL: I don’t like lettering or script generally but I do love knuckle and palm tattoos. I tried to make this tattoo look more like symbols than obvious letters; which really seemed to work best runic.
SB: What machine did you use?
IL: For this piece I used my Soba Brass Clipper: It’s something I use everyday and one of my favourite machines
SB: Was there pressure to give an original approach to the tattoo seeing that hand tattooing has become so popular in the west?
IL: Not really because 90% of knuckle tattoos are still something relatively common i.e. “hold fast” or “stay true”, but at the same time there was a desire to create something that would stand out for years to come and do the concept justice.
SB: How aware are you of Sang Bleu Magazine? What separates it from other publications that cover similar topics?
IL: I came across SBL firstly via Maxime (Buchi) and have followed it ever since. In terms of what it brings to the table: the pedantry of what to include in its published material makes it really neat and graceful, covering many topics without it turning into a junk yard. There are tons of different blogs concentrated on the similar themes, but by holding on to a specific direction through aesthetic and subterranean appeal, it is able to stay true to its true meaning.
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