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Johnny Corvo

In 2001 I left the Ex-Soviet-Union and moved to Portugal. During the second year of my studies at the university I realized that I'm studying something I didn't want to do. I had two choices: music or tattoos. Music doesn't pay much, and in my opinion is better in a group; tattooing however was something that I could do by myself, so I went that way. I was into graffiti since I was a kid, but never was much of a drawer so i worked hard at improving my skill. No one wanted to help at first so I had to learn how to draw by myself, which I did and eventually it was cool. During my last year of Uni, I went to Czech Rep and attended some drawing classes there. When I came back to Portugal I started tattooing seriously and since then I'm working at Doom Room, one of not so many Portuguese black work only tattoo studios. 

Was Hand Poke tattooing something you went to after machine tattooing, or has the hand poke style always been your preferred method?

I started with machines, and later tried hand poke. Portugal is kind of slow in learning and expanding tattoo culture, so the only hand poke I knew was from aborigines, prisoners and kids who can't draw or afford tattoo equipment. They would buy needles and try to imitate prison-style tattooing by making shit-ass sketches, badly applied to the skin, without realizing that those prisoners most of the times actually put their effort into their works. In 2016 I went to Belarus and met some tattooists, those kind with bright "ballroom" shoes, "codered" beltbag and "adidas" sweatpants. One of them was doing hand poke only. He took me to a forest close to Minsk, and gave me my first hand poke tat. In that moment I realized that good hand poke tattoos are not that underground as I thought, and actually can have a kickass quality. When I came back to Portugal, I showed my friends the result, told the story, and they made me try to do it on them. I did and I liked it, so here we are. But I still tattoo with machines, its my job, and hand poke is something bigger than just a hobby, so its like a secondary job. The one which I can do to relax but still feel productive.

What was it like the first time you put needle and ink to skin?

I think I can simply quote: " was lil' like ice fishing, there're not a lot of fucking sensations, but the sensations are fucking bright." (Кровосток - Зимняя).

Have you always been a tattoo artist?

As I mentioned, I went to university, and I didn't chose what to study, I was good at math so I went to I.T.. I didn't liked it, and I wanted my neck tattooed. So I started to think what job I might have without spending 8 hours in front of a laptop and with a tattooed neck, so tattooing sounded as the best option of the things that I like and do with pleasure and not because I have to. I still didn't tattoo my neck, I still don't know what I want to do on it, but I know I will decide someday.

Do you have any memorable stories you can tell?

I guess every tattooist have half of their careers that can fit into this description. The one that comes to my mind right now was of a friend of mine, who was under house arrest expecting for a trial. He asked me for a tattoo, a simple lettering on the forearm saying "freedom". Prepared it, did it, next day he went to trial and they gave him around 6 years. Not so funny the story how is the irony of the tattoo.
So Single Needle Tattoo Kits, I believe that home tattooing is inherently risky, but people have, and will continue to tattoo themselves, therefore making a safe and affordable kit is the way forward... What's your take on this?
Well, when I started tattooing I learned the hygiene part with nurses. They taught me the about hygiene and explained to me the difference between a wound from a tattoo, and a wound that really needs medical attention. They also taught me how and which infections you can get and etc.. Later I also learned these things with tattooists. So by combining the knowledge from these two worlds, according to my opinion I would say that you can get tattooed at some festival camping, in a park, like I tattoo and get tattooed sometimes, or even in a dirty basement if you want or need to, as long as you do it with a responsible tattooist. So you can do it, but don't go crazy, inform yourselves, kids, inform yourselves so you'll know when to run if you'll need to. Think properly before you get a tattoo, tattoos go well with rock'n'roll but try to get tattoos while you're sober, and don't try to get cheaper tattoos.
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