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An Interview with Tattoo Artist Ivana Belakova of Ivana Tattoo Art in California

Posted on September 12 2013

Ivana Belakova


Tat2X:  How long have you been involved in the tattoo business?

Ivana Belakova: It has been, about 12 years now, since I did my first tattoo. Professionally it’s less than that.

Tat2X:  What made you decide to become a tattoo artist?

Ivana Belakova: Just after I finished my studies, my friend offered me a job in her new tattoo shop. I had no idea what I want to do for work, so I said I will go for it. I had no idea how to tattoo, so I tried them on my friends and after the first one, I was hooked! I pretty much decided that tattooing was going to be my job that very day. That’s all I wanted to do tomorrow, the day after, for weeks and for years to come. What drove me the most was definitely my passion for the arts! I thought tattoos were sexy, and I saw the beauty in them. Tattooing really came to me. I never thought I was going to do something like this in my life. It was “love at first sight” and I love it more every day. I am very grateful!

Skull and Cactus Tattoo


Tat2X:  How did you learn the art of tattooing? Did you apprentice?

Ivana Belakova: No, I am a self taught artist. I practiced on my friends and family first, before I went to work for a shop. I slowly figured things out myself.

Tat2X:  Are there any artists tattoo or otherwise that you admire?

Ivana Belakova: I admire a lots of different artists for different reasons. I admire painters, street artist, musicians, illustrators, photographers, fashion designers.. There are too many to name! All of these people have something I can learn from; something that inspires me- whether it’s their approach to work, to life, or to art.

Tat2X:  Has any individual in particular influenced your career?

Ivana Belakova: Not as such; I am just passionate about what I do and my drive and ambitions are constantly pushing me forward. During my travels I have met many great artists and even now I’m constantly meeting new people that I learn something from! For the past couple of years or so, I have not been following other tattoo artists work. I have been paying more attention to nature.. buildings.. to books.. pretty much to everything that I am surrounded by… and really this is my inspiration. It’s life itself! My influence comes from everywhere!

Everyday life is my biggest inspiration. I am grateful for every new day and what it has to offer to me. And then it’s the people I have around me. And things I see around me and how I perceive them. That’s more than enough of an inspiration. A great deal of inspiration comes from my travels, when I see new things and get to know different cultures and people. I see the beauty in little things. It can be ordinary things we don’t notice much.

Elephant Tattoo


Tat2X:  What would you say is your favorite part of the job?

Ivana Belakova: One word: freedom! Tattooing is my hobby. I like the freedom that comes along with it; it takes me to many different places in the world and through tattooing I have made some great friends! I am constantly meeting all sorts of people! The best part is, when I complete a piece and I see the smile on my customer’s faces. When I feel down, tattooing is also a healing process for my soul.

Tat2X:  How would you describe your style?

Ivana Belakova: Funky color; yet I am open minded to try new things that are very different from my particular style. At the moment I am doing more ‘street art’ looking tattoos. I was a bit tired of doing realistic looking designs and I’m getting back to my ‘roots’ now, I totally enjoy graffiti style artwork. I just want to have more fun and freedom in my work! I really love creating ‘modern’ funky looking designs. I look at the tattoos I did yesterday and I would change them today. My style is constantly evolving, but there’s similarity in my work when it comes to colors. With every tattoo I do, I’m learning something new and the level I’m at right now is not defined and never will be. My mind is constantly changing; so for me it’s a very natural process of evolving as an artist and as a person. I do what I feel at that particular moment. Every person is so different and every one of them gives me a different vibe.

Tat2X: What’s the most unusual request for a tattoo design you’ve ever had? 

Ivana Belakova: Tattooing an asshole… literally!

Tat2X:  Do you have any advice for aspiring artists tattoo or otherwise? 

Ivana Belakova: As for tattoo artists – Follow your dreams and want something good enough! Do your best to achieve it. Be consistent and don’t give up easily. Tattooing is constant hard work from the very beginning! It takes time to see significant progress and you cannot expect everything to be perfect in the early stages. Always give your best and do it with love.

Melting Butterfly Tattoo


Tat2X:  What kind of music do you like to listen to? 

Ivana Belakova: I listen to everything. I really choose music according to my mood.

Tat2X:  What do you do to relax when you’re not at the studio? 

Ivana Belakova: I like to be active! I love to play tennis or I go for long beach walks. It depends of where I live at the moment. My relaxation is actually when I am being active. I like to clear my head and tire by body with different activities. I like sports. I like to take photos and also; I know this sounds funny when I say so.. but my relaxation is also working some more after work on my other projects beside tattooing.

Tat2X:  Is there anything else we should know about you or your studio? 

Ivana Belakova: Last year I published my first book called Narcissistic Rockstar. I wanted to do something for my customers and people who like my work. They kept asking me whether I sold my artwork and except for tattoos I really didn’t have anything else to offer, sell or show. For these reasons I decided to do a mix of my artwork. Overall, there are some pictures of my old work and tattoos which I liked at the time I made them (some of them may be around 4 years old). There are lots of my tattoos you have never seen before as I never posted them anywhere! There are tattoos close to my heart. There are some blurbs which represent my thoughts. There’s also ‘nothing’… Literally. And some disco. The book is basically a summary of my work… thoughts… and lifestyle… You can find it at:

My book can be shipped worldwide! There’s hard copy and also e-version for iPads or iPhones available. At the moment I am working on few different projects besides tattooing, so 2014 should be fun!

Tattoo Portraits by Ivana Belakova


About Ivana Belakova/Ivana Tattoo:

To see more of Tattoo Artist Ivana Belakova’s spectacular work visit her Facebook page Ivana Tattoo art or visit her Website directly at