"Everything starts when you find friends who believe in you and let you make the ugliest tattoos on them" - interview with Petja Evlogieva
She has a unique style of tattooing and everyone could recognize it. Her tattoos win not only the hearts of her fans and clients but also many awards from all over the world. We present to you Petja Evlogieva:
1. Do you remember the first time you saw a tattoo and what your first thought was?
I don’t remember exactly when but it was in Montana, not the best version. To be honest it was probably around Gencho (her husband and also a tattoo artist) 18 years ago when I saw tattoo magazines for the first time and realised that tattoos could be pretty and different than just a tattooed female name.
2. What prejudice against tattooed people do you see in your everyday life? Is there any against you as a tattoo artist?
When I started 17-18 years ago the tattoo environment was different. It wasn't a good sign to see people with visible tattoos but now I think this has changed. Of course in small towns like the one I am from people are curious, they are staring at you, but not always with bad intention. It's just interesting for them. I want to believe that the time when it mattered if you have tattoos or not is over.
3. How and when did you start drawing? How about tattooing? What’s your opinion - is it easy to start tattooing today or it was easier before?
I started drawing at a young age and it is my profession for about 15 years. I never thought I would tattoo. My husband Evgeni is tattooing for the last 18-20 years and for the time we are together, tattoos are part of my life and it came natural for me to try.
The people who believed in me and supported me are those behind Bulgaria Tattoo Expo, Andon Skevov who gave to me and made the first tattoo machines, Geni and Valio from Ink Brothers, Spiro from Chirpan who is still an inspiration for me and all of you the people in the tattoo industry 10 years ago. If you hadn't helped me out I probably wouldn't be tattooing right now.
Is it easier to start tattooing now? I don’t know, but I can say that 10 years ago it was really hard to convince someone to get a colorful animation style tattoo. But as far equipment and information goes - today everything is more available. Everyone has their own path. When I started tattooing, tattoos have already become a part of the underground culture and we own it to the tattoo artists, who had to go through a lot to achieve this. It's easier to choose a style, when you have a basis to step on.
4. What are the most important qualities for a good tattoo artist?
I try to build and keep the basic most human characteristics. I try to listen and understand the client, to assert my position and my style, but at the same time keep the client happy. I don’t like leaving the feeling in the customer that the compromise is based on money. The smile, which you inspire at the end of the day is the criteria to see if are you good or not.
The good tattoo artist is the happy one. It’s when you put love into your work and one can see it in your projects. Particularly for me it takes a lot of drawing because I am not a fast drawer but they say consistency leads to good results.
5. How did you learn the craft and what advice would you give to those who want to start tattooing?
At this point I have achieved everything I have worked for. I hope to continue evolving and developing. I don’t think that tattooing is in some way different from other art forms. You love, you draw and when you look back you see that you have developed. Everything starts when you find friends who believe in you and let you make the ugliest tattoos on them.
6. What were the clients then and now?
Clients have always been cool. They are the people, who can’t sleep the night before, because they are ready to trust you and wear your art forever. I think maybe we have changed a bit.
7. You have overview on the tattoo industry here and abroad. What are the similarities and differences? We bulgarians are always thinking that we are the worst, is it true?
The bad thing is that the culture became industry. This is what I regret. There are so much festivals, competitions, so much awards and diplomas. So much sponsored posts and buyed likes and enhanced photos. There is everything for everybody and there is still drama.
The years have shown me, that you survive if you mind your own business.
As for festivals abroad - I’ve participated in some very famous ones, but they don’t have soul. Of course there are these, which you want to visit again and again, but it’s not organization, that is in the way for us.
8. What would you like to change in the industry in Bulgaria? What is missing here and what needs improvement?
I can’t give advice, I don’t think we are missing something.
9. You are one of the regulars participants in Bulgaria Tattoo Expo. What do you gain from the event?
It’s a wonderful place where you can see what is happening and where you are in the Bulgarian tattoo world, where you can meet some old friends and work together.
10. You are one of the most decorated tattoo artists in the competition part of the event. What makes one tattoo into winner?
There were so many times, when I had to defend or explain my awards. I’ve heard more bad than good for my merit. I have promised myself so many times not to participate again, because of this negativity. The truth is that this is the only place, where I can really show my work. Everybody can see how well the tattoos are made. Everybody can see a large tattoo up close and not from a photo on the internet. Unfortunately there is a competitive element. When there are winners, there are dissatisfied people. When you have worked hard and you are proud with what you have achieved, the award makes you happy.
This year I decided to take a break and I won’t participate, not because I don’t have anything to show or because I’m offended. It’s because I want to keep the good energy and invest it where it belongs.