Boris Pramatarov is an artist with a very distinctive style, a book illustrator for SONM publishing house, and a zine author. And now can also add tattoo artist to the list.
Pramatarov, who has been working mostly out of Brussels in recent years, became interested in tattoo art through his girlfriend Sophie Ung. They had a joint exhibition at the INTRO Gallery last July, and around the same time Ung designed the cover forMaterial Life, a collection of essays by Marguerite Duras. The two sometimes collaborate under the moniker Line Across Circle (LAC).
"Sophie was already quite advanced, she had the necessary tools and materials, and I knew a lot of people who wanted to get one of my drawings tattooed. My baptism by fire was with a good friend of mine, Vincent. I covered his entire forearm with a large robot, a drawing that I now realize was quite complex for a man with almost no experience. But it worked, and it gave me the confidence to keep doing tattoos."
Pramatarov immediately jumped to the more difficult methods. He specializes in hand poke tattooing, a technique that doesn't use electricity or a tattoo machine, everything is done using just a needle and ink. He describes it as a difficult and time-consuming process that has discouraged many who ventured into this field. "But somehow I managed to rediscover myself using this technique. In the long, quiet work. For me it is a form of meditation, it has a therapeutic effect. Often clients will fall asleep, be in this deep rest mode, and I get into my zone.
How can this process help an artist improve his work? "Although I use the same graphic principles when drawing and doing tattoos, I have learned a lot from drawing on skin. I have delved deeper into the power of the image, which serves as a mirror of human experience. An image is its own thing, but it's also all the possible associations that it provokes in the observer. I think I've become more responsible toward my own creations."
Although at first glance the world of tattoos and the world of contemporary art have very different rules, Boris is not the least bit conservative in his thinking about form and presentation. "I think that the artist must discover his images, his world. Once this world has been found, the next step is to make the connection to reality and other people. This connection can be made through a book, a tattoo, a graphic print, or many other methods that suit the visual language of the artist. The boundaries between 'high' and 'low' art are blurred in the reality of the twenty-first century." He does not think that an idea is necessarily good if it can be transposed between different formats.
"Some works are beautiful precisely because they were created in the right place at the right time. Using them outside that specific context would be unnecessary, in some cases even detrimental.”
According to Boris, the popularity of tattoos has helped the art form develop and also drawn different kinds of artists toward it – the influx of new professionals and ideas comes with the bigger audience.
In this kind of situation, artists who have their own style and a highly developed visual culture are always appreciated. "The public creates the ground for development. Definitely more and more visual artists are moving in this direction and this becomes the basis for a rich, diverse world. People with tattoos are becoming art collectors.”