No more pocket watch tattoos! Interview with Vesso Alexiev
Vesso Alexiev is a hard working tattooist with an eye for detail and a gentle touch. As one of the latest editions to the Yayo Pro Team, Vesso is making the most of being part of an elite tattoo family. He met up with Yayo foot soldier Matt Haddon-Reichardt to discuss how he loves art but hates pocket watches.
“So I didn’t have what you call a typical apprenticeship as most tattooists do,” explains Vesso as the winter rain continues its relentless decent. He jokes at this rate we may all be flooded out by Christmas; a whole island rain soaked and bobbing about with no place to go.
It’s a strange time to be working in the tattoo industry. Political upheaval, environmental disasters and the ever spiralling stagnation of economic decay mean that a job that is half art and half craft sits precariously close to being a luxury that can be ill afforded. Vesso doesn’t feel the uncertain times we live in will not damage tattooing.
“Art is a form of escape as well as a form of expression. I think certain types of art can provide an escape from the pain and drudgery of this world but not necessarily tattoos. Tattoos to me are more a way to express yourself; too feel empowered and confident.”
"Tattoos to me are more a way to express yourself."
Perhaps it is tattooing inherent gift of personal expression that has allowed it to flourish over the past decade while over high street businesses have given up the ghost. Vesso’s studio is certainly doing well.
“I am now working in my own studio called Vesso Art Studio. It’s in Pocklington York and has been open since February 2017. I know others talk about tattooing having peaked but I think for people like me and the others on the Yayo Pro Team business is as strong as ever.”
Vesso hands me my cup of coffee and explains to me about how he started in the trade.
“I’ll tell you a bit of my background. I studied art since a young age; I’ve always loved art. I graduated in art and design at the University of Sofia in Bulgaria with my masters degree. When I left university I pursued a career in air brushing, painting bikes and cars. Around this time I had many friends who were part of the tattoo scene and you know how it works, you get into what your friends are into so I started to develop a love of tattooing and go deeper and deeper into the culture. For many years my friends looked at my art and they tried to convince me to take up tattooing but I didn’t want to do it until I really felt ready. It was around 6 years ago when one of my closest friends took me aside and said “Dude you have to start tattooing!”That gave me the push I needed and I began on the path I’m still on now; to this day I haven’t looked back.”
“Pocket watches. I won’t tattoo pocket watches."
It’s clear Vesso loves what he does and I try and pinpoint exactly what it is that he loves about tattooing.
“It’s got to be the art, creating a design for a client using their ideas and seeing their faces once the tattoo is finished; it’s a great feeling.”
With so much love for the trade there must be something he hates about tattooing.
“Pocket watches. I won’t tattoo pocket watches,” he jokes. “I don’t hate anything about tattooing but if I had to choose one style I’m not so keen on I’m going to have to say Tribal tattoos. As much as I respect the form of art it’s not something I like doing, packing black into the skin isn’t fun for me.”
"I seem to be tattooing a lot of lions at the moment."
As Vesso heads into the back to put the kettle on I look out the studio window at the quiet, cold street. I’ve always felt that one of the factors that has helped tattooing survive austerity Britain is celebrity endorsement. Vesso is certainly feeling what I have humorously dubbed the “Ed Sheeran Effect”.
“I seem to be tattooing a lot of lions at the moment,” Explains Vesso as we discuss Ed Sheeran’s much photographed lion tattoo. “I’m not complaining as I like doing animal portraits.”
Tattoo trends have the drawback of creating a glut of one style in the market. Vesso would certainly like to expand his portfolio beyond celebrity driven trends.
“I would love to do some more Gothic and surrealistic tattoos I also like mixing abstract designs with realism and I’ve done a few over the last year that I think have come out great.”
Vesso is enjoying being welcomed into the Yayo family and loves Yayo’s products as much as he loves being a part of the Pro Team.
“I’m relatively new to the team but it’s amazing I’m up there with so many amazing artists; I hope to have the pleasure of getting to know them more in the future.”
As I pack up my tape recorder and put away my pen and pad I ask Vesso what he has planned for 2020.
“I have a couple of conventions booked already for 2020 and looking forward to doing some with the Pro Team too. I also think it’s time for some quality time with the family somewhere in the sun.”
As I zip up my coat and pull up my hood, ready to brave the winter storm, I reflect that we could all do with a good tattooist like Vesso and quality time in the sun.
A final thought from the author: "Yayo doesn't let just anyone join its Pro Team. Vesso is one of Europe's top tattoo artists and his place on the team shows he is one of the best of the best. Yayo is an elite tattoo aftercare brand designed with professionals in mind. Don't ruin a pro tattoo by using crappy aftercare products. Always use the best; always use Yayo."
Yayo... its a family thing.