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Mark D: Master of Conceptual Artistry in Tattoo Design

Explore Mark D's unique blend of fineline, black and grey, and geometric designs, creating conceptual art through tattoos.

Tattoofilter in Interviews

Meet Mark Drushchenko (aka Mark D, @markd_tattoo), a Los Angeles-based tattoo artist whose creative journey spans continents and artistic disciplines. With six years of experience, Mark's tattooing career began in the frosty climes of Siberia, Russia, where he first honed his skills at an art school. Over the past four years, he has specialized in conceptual tattoos, meticulously developing his unique approach to composition and design vision. Mark's talent and expertise have not only been showcased across international tattoo conventions in Moscow, Europe, and America but have also earned him a respected spot as a judge at the New York Tattoo Convention in 2023 and NY Empire State Tattoo Expo 2024.

This pivotal role expanded his view of tattoos from purely an artist's perspective to that of a judge and spectator, deepening his appreciation for the conceptual foundations of tattoo art. For Mark, tattoos transcend mere aesthetics—they narrate stories, encapsulate concepts, and embody personal memories. As he continues to embrace new challenges and innovative ideas, each project serves as a unique narrative, woven into the skin with precision and creative insight. In this interview, we delve into Mark's artistic philosophy, explore the influences that shape his work, and uncover the stories behind his compelling designs.

How did your artistic journey begin in Siberia, and what led you to specialize in conceptual tattoos?

I started to do tattooing in Tyumen during my last year of studying at university as I realized that I was more attracted to creative and unrestricted activities. I have always drawn; during my school years, I studied at an art school, and tattooing became a natural continuation of my artistic path, albeit with a few years' break for university. At the beginning of my career, I experimented a lot, took on different tattoo styles to get clients and gain experience, but I was always drawn to black and white tattoos. Initially, I tried to focus on realism, then I more often began to use graphic techniques, and eventually, I arrived at the style I do now.

Can you describe how you integrate different elements in different styles to create your distinctive graphic tattoos?

I don't have a specific action plan; I just work with my clients' ideas, tell their stories through tattoos, and try to combine elements organically, considering the rules of composition in painting.

Who are the tattoo artists that have influenced you most when developing your style?

There are many tattoo artists who have inspired and continue to inspire me, and they work in completely different styles, so your question is very difficult. Probably, I can highlight Dmitry Troshin, because observing his work was one of the reasons I started tattooing, and Balazs Bercsenyi, because he was one of the first tattoo artists to create unique tattoos that were unlike anything else, combining abstraction and realism/graphics in interesting ways. This was largely a visual embodiment of what I wanted to do and helped me shape my own tattoo style.

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What are some of your main sources of inspiration when designing new tattoos?

I am interested in art in the broadest sense of the word and do not limit myself to just tattoos: I visit exhibitions, museums, observe contemporary visual art, read fiction, and have an interest in art history and traditional art. All of this gives me many ideas that I can use in my tattoos alongside my clients' stories or for their visual adaptation.

Could you walk us through your process from the initial concept to the final tattoo?

Since I create tattoos for my clients, the process begins with their idea, story, and principles that they want to visualize in the tattoo. Sometimes these ideas are based on ancient myths, which allows me to express myself through metaphor. Other times, I work with symbols and images, building the design with a focus on composition: making the project visually appealing, linking and combining different elements into a single narrative. Despite the similarity of the process, each case is unique and I do not have a single formula.

Mark D. at work

How do you collaborate with clients to ensure their stories and ideas are accurately reflected in the tattoos?

I think I've partially answered this question earlier: a tattoo is always a collaboration between the client's idea and the tattoo artist's skill. I take the client's idea, ask them to describe it, and if possible, support it with visual examples or references. Then, I start working on the design and composition. During the design and tattoo creation process, the most important thing for me is to have some creative freedom: less control from the client and more trust in my professionalism. With this approach, the tattoo will be pleasing not only for its meaning but also for its composition, quality, and it will remain visually appealing for many years.

How has serving as a judge at a top international conventions influenced your approach to tattooing?

Judging at conventions always has different impacts. Last year at the New York Tattoo Convention, it was my first experience as a judge, and I mainly enjoyed the process and the quality of work from other artists. I tried to understand and evaluate the works in terms of their placement on the body, contrast and detail, and the overall quality of execution. I noted a lot for myself and began to experiment more with different techniques.

In May of this year, I was greatly honored to be invited as a judge at one of the largest conventions in the USA - the New York Empire State Tattoo Expo. The level of the artists was very high, and many projects amazed me with their scale and originality, combining different tattooing techniques. This, of course, inspires me and gives a new impulse to my development as an artist, providing new ideas for creative implementation.

Do you have any particularly memorable tattoos that you’ve created? What makes them stand out?

Lately, I've been trying to focus on creating large-scale tattoos. I'm more interested in big projects because they are always more challenging compositionally, offering more space for creativity and the opportunity to implement different ideas. Based on this, the most memorable for me are the large projects (sleeves, cores, leg sleeves, etc.). Many are still in the process of being created, but there are also completed projects that I'm happy to showcase.

What do you find most challenging and most rewarding about working with tattoos?

I think the hardest part of being a tattoo artist is maintaining the mentality of a learner: you need to avoid stagnation, always try to discover something new, experiment, and develop as a professional. I believe this is also a strength of our profession because, as you grow as a specialist, you also grow as a person.

What new challenges or projects are you looking forward to in your career?

I am open to any ideas and challenges, but at the moment my goal is to increase the number of large projects in my portfolio (sleeves, backs, leg sleeves, etc.).

What advice would you give to aspiring tattoo artists who want to develop a similar style to yours?

Studying the basics of painting and the laws of composition in painting, trying to apply them to tattooing, and always striving to develop, not being afraid of new things and experiments.

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