Ivana Belakova has loved to draw since she was young. She dreamed of working in an artistic field, but she didn’t know what. While she studied business and accounting, she couldn’t picture herself sitting in an office all day. Thankfully, by the time she was graduating high school, tattooing became a consideration when a friend of her mum’s had the idea to open up a tattoo shop.
Ivana then started teaching herself how to tattoo. When she first started tattooing, she only worked on black and gray pieces. This was a way for her to figure things out. She admits that being self taught was probably a longer road to take because things likely took her longer to learn than someone who was mentored. However, she says:
“Being a self taught artist . . . really allowed me to fully focus on tattooing the way I wanted, which gave me significant artistic freedom to develop my unique style. Learning from a mentor can have advantages, but I feel like not having one was the way to go for me and it helped me become the artist I am today.”
“I call my style funky color. It’s probably the closest description of what I do. I mix all different styles and techniques together, so it’s very hard to categorize it and call it by one particular style.”
“Yet; my style of tattooing is constantly changing and it’s not definite and will be evolving constantly. With my tattoos, I portrait my feelings and what I enjoy. My style is the reflection of that certain period of time.
“I am learning and experimenting constantly. In my style, I don’t stick to any rules. I create freely what is appealing to me and what has an aesthetic quality to me”
Currently Ivana works in the oldest tattoo shop in the United States, Outer Limits Tattoo, in Long Beach, California. The shop doubles as a tattoo museum with old artwork on the walls and early tattoo machines. The little details, such as anchors instead of handles of cabinet doors, add to the shop’s overall charm. The spacious and clean work environment make for a comfortable atmosphere for both the artists that work there and the clients that come through the door.
“We don’t have any kind of politics in our shop. All of the 11 artists working there, we do work great together. Also, I am working for and with tattoo legend Kari Barba, who I look up to not only as my boss.”
When she’s not tattooing, she enjoys wining and dining, shopping, traveling, reading and self developing in a variety of areas.
If you’re interested in getting tattooed by Ivana, email her to schedule. She does not book appointments through social media!
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Images © Ivana Tattoo Art