Mikhail Nechaev: Tattoos as Energy Exchange
Better known by his artistic name Mitatink, Mikhail talks about his journey to becoming the artist he is today. Read on to find out more about this incredibly talented tattooer.
He grew up in a little town, where he also got a red diploma in energy engineering. Then he worked as a sous chef in a Japanese restaurant for several years, but eventually became a tattoo artist in demand worldwide. The hero of this story, Mikhail Nechaev, considered following his dream and not giving up on it under any circumstance, as the most important thing in his life.
When did you realize that the tattoo industry was what you're interested in?
Actually, tattooing is an art, and I've been interested in art since I was a child. I remember asking my mom to take me to art school. She didn't say no, but I couldn't go to the classes for a long time either. I didn't like the teachers' approach — there was no creative freedom. Everything had to be done just as they said. And as a result, I quit the school but didn't lose interest. I can't say that I was inspired by anything specific. It feels more like I was interested in absolutely everything. I wanted to soak it all up. I got my first tattoo when I was nineteen.
But back then didn't you think that you would become a tattooer yourself?
No, I didn't. But I was creating sketches for my own tattoos, discussing them with my tattoo artist and then we worked on them together. You know, I've always wanted to do something unique. Something that wouldn't seem like the tattoos that most clients get. I started working in this industry by coincidence — I met the founder of a tattoo studio on social media. He was just about to open his place and also was recruiting employees. We agreed to meet in a week. I was working hard on sketches in my album, experimenting with my art, as I needed to elicit all my creative potential. And when we finally met, I was honest and told him that I didn't have any experience in the industry, but I was interested in it and was ready to give it a shot.
So, you became a tattoo artist right away?
Of course not! At first, I worked as an administrator. It helped me to immerse myself in the profession, to understand the way tattooers work and communicate with their clients and what kind of equipment they use. In addition, I couldn't help reading the tattoo-themed forums. Because there were no other sources, for example, like YouTube videos or training guides. But I was so interested — my eyes were shining like light bulbs. But I still didn't dare to touch the tattoo machine, though.
When did it finally happen?
After a while, the founder of the tattoo studio said that it was time for me to try to tattoo a client. Of course, I was afraid to make a mistake, to do something wrong. Moreover, I was all at sea. And then one day, I was sitting with my friend in the kitchen and she suddenly said to me: "I want a tattoo!". We spent half the night drawing the sketch and agreed that if something didn’t work out, we would just cover the mistake up with a square. But the most interesting thing happened when I got the tattoo machine in my hand: I wasn't nervous at all. I just started using the machine as if it was a pencil. My friend liked the result, and I realized that I needed to keep tattooing. I made a decision on the style a long time ago — it's graphics, linework and dotwork. I liked geometric images. However, these styles were still not so popular at that time, clients wanted something in color realism, and I always followed the trends and tried to bring them into effect.
How did you end up in Europe? You're working there a lot right now.
I really like to travel, discover new places and meet new people. And meeting a girl led me to this new life experience. She's been to many European countries. And she also told me about her work in Italy and Germany, and I was really inspired. When she suddenly suggested working and travelling together I agreed. I wasn't sure that my art would interest anyone abroad, but everything went well. I've been to many countries and had opportunities to work in different studios.
What impressed you the most during these trips?
Every studio there is like a small family. I worked several times in some of them. Everyone is very open, friendly, and supportive. Maybe that is why I was always greeted as a good old friend. In fact, I am a citizen of the world, I'm comfortable wherever I am. Because it's not always the place that matters, but the people you're with. And I can say that I was mostly lucky with people. It's easy for me to find a common ground with anyone. Unless, of course, the person isn't out-and-out negative.
Would you like to work in the USA?
Yes, I would love to. It seems to me that the most successful approach now would be to bring the tattoo as close as possible to modern art, to make a convention in the format of a large-scale exhibition that would be tied to contemporary art and digital technologies. I am sure that such an experience can be applied in the USA as they always treat new projects with interest and even admiration. Now a lot of people from America are writing to me saying that they want to work with me. I hope such a response will become a new phase of my life.
Misha believes that a tattoo isn't just a service that can be sold to a client. This is also an opportunity to look at yourself differently, to discover something new in yourself. And for clients getting a tattoo is a great way to cope with their own emotions or, for example, to capture them on their bodies. Anyway, it is an energy exchange, and there is no other way to do anything without it.