An Interview with Sofia Lanbina about her Delicate Floral Tattoos
Explore the story and work of Bets Tattoo, a Munich-based tattoo artist with Russian roots, creating unique art in her light-filled, welcoming studio.
In the heart of Munich, Germany, nestled amidst the bustling cityscape, lies a unique oasis of creativity and warmth. This is where Sofia Lanbina, originally hailing from Russia, weaves her magic. Since relocating to Germany in 2021, she has transformed her passion for tattoos and drawing into a flourishing career. In her private studio, an enchanting space brimming with light, cozy ambience, and an abundance of plants, she welcomes clients into a friendly and inclusive environment. Her journey into the world of tattoo artistry, which began as a hobby alongside another career, has now become her sole focus and devotion. Today, she stands as a testament to following one's passion, demonstrating how a love for art and a commitment to one's craft can lead to a fulfilling and successful career.
What is your artistic background, and how did you get interested in the tattoo field?
I have been drawing since I was a kid, in different parts of my life I was doing different sorts of art from calligraphy to academic drawing. However, I was always interested in botanical drawing — when in nature, I’d sketch different plants and flowers in my notebook. I also loved tattoos, so it seemed only logical to me to try myself in tattooing. And when I did, I realised right away, despite its difficulties, that it’s something I want to do and it’s something that makes me happy!
Could you tell us about the moment you decided to shift from your previous career to full-time tattooing?
When I started tattooing, I didn’t plan on pursuing it as a career, I just wanted to do it as a hobby, just for myself in my free time, so I had another career in progress. However, when I started tattooing, I knew I wanted to grow and develop my skills, so as soon as I was able to find a studio that took me in, I quit my other job and became a full-time tattoo artist.
What led to fine-line black ink?
I aimed at more or less this style from the start. I think fine-line tattoos in black ink are for everyone, they are fascinating, have so many details, so you really cannot stop looking at them. They suit anyone, they have great contrast with the skin, so they stand out, but at the same time they look so soft. With this style you can achieve a darker look or more discreet lighter look — you just need to understand how it works.
How important is having drawing skills for tattooing?
Well, depends on what style you’d like to pursue and what you mean by drawing skills :) If it’s lettering, then probably the most important here would be precision and confident use of a tattoo machine. But drawing skills for any tattoo artist is only an advantage. So if you’re planning on getting into tattooing, I’d suggest starting with improving your drawing skills with the focus on something you mostly want to tattoo, be it mandalas, landscapes, people or anything else.
Are the designs typically applied freehand to the clients’ bodies?
I mostly do freehand. I believe it creates a truly unique experience and special connection between me and my client.
Could you walk us through your process of designing a tattoo, from initial concept to the finished piece?
Normally (if it’s not something very small), I draw designs right on the body considering the flow of the particular placement and the specifics of a particular person like birthmarks or scars. Then together with my client, we discuss all the details, look at the designs from different angles, make any changes if necessary and just make sure everything is perfect. Since there is no initial design, I come up with all the shading and small details right while tattooing which is my favourite part. It helps me create a perfect tattoo and I love my clients for trusting me enough to let me do this for them!
Which tattoo artists have particularly inspired or influenced your work and style?
I have so many tattoo artists that I admire. Talking about my own work and style, I can single out a tattoo artist who probably inspired me the most. Her name is Anastasia I just think she is a wonderful person and artist who does incredible freehand floral tattoos and definitely deserves recognition. I got my own sleeve done by her :)
In the future, how do you see your technique evolving or changing?
I always try to evolve, I think it’s an endless process which makes the whole thing fun. I’m not sure if it’ll change, we’ll see about that, but at the moment I’m taking different steps to make my tattoo art more contrast but remain it looking fragile.
Your studio is filled with many plants, what are your favourite?
I have two giant plants that are called Strelitzia Nicolai and Kentia Palm which I both love. Also, at the studio, I always have fresh flowers either brought by clients or bought by me :) Besides that, I have plenty of dried flowers hanging on the wall and standing on the floor.