After I got back from Athens Tattoo convention I was anxious to understand if there is something similar in Bulgaria. Velislav Todorov a.k.a Bate Vesko sent me a link to event in Facebook and I was quite amazed when I checked it out – it was the 13th edition of Tattoo Fest Sofia. After some checks and digs, Google and Facebook told the that the person behind this event is Emo Saparevski. To be honest I have never heard of him but I was quite new to the tattoo lifestyle.
A lot of people are naming Facebook like the killer of real human relationships but it was Facebook that allowed me quickly to write a few lines to Emo and to arrange a meeting. It has been very interesting experience for me meeting Emo – we sat in a coffee shop close to his studio – Sofia Tattoo Ink on Parchevich street in Sofia. We spoke for a while – I got more information on the fest and we agreed that I will help him by creating a site for the event (update is pending for the next 14th edition).
Emo is one of the first tattoo artists in Bulgaria. He started his work in the 90ties and now is a well recognized artist with his specific style. A lot of famous people in Bulgaria and abroad got their tattoos in his studio. I have seen him working couple of times – making tattoos, painting with his daughter and steering one of the most interesting events in Bulgaria – Tattoo Fest Sofia. Each time we meet it is interesting and relaxing and I am learning more about what is behind the curtains of the tattoo world – business, art, fun, life stories.
Since for a while this web site will be all about my first steps and friendships in tattoo universe – my friend Paul who introduced me to tattoos and tattoo world, my first convention and since Emo is the first artist I know from Bulgaria, I asked him for an interview. I am sure you will find it very interesting and if you go to meet him you’ll definitely wont leave the studio without one of his masterpieces on you.
Here it goes.
Who is Emo Saparevski and what people should know about you?
I don’t know who he is too. We are Legion. As it is written in a book. I’d try to present myself in brief. 46 years old guy from Sofia, father of 3 kids. I work in Sofia Tattoo Ink. Drawing since my youth and making tattoos for over 21 years. Still painting each free minute I have.
Google (and everybody who know you) told me that you are one of the first tattoo artists in Bulgaria. When did you started?
I started back in 1992 but I have opened my first studio in 1993. There was two of us – me and Peter. We had equipment and we were still saving money to open the studio. Few months later Mario Yankov has opened studio next to us. We had a lot of arguments with him in the beginning but later it was all fixed. He was a good guy, god rest his soul.
By that time (Google again told me it was around 1993) I guess there as not much information about tattoos. How did you learned?
Yeah, you are right. It was difficult. We were very enthusiastic and we did not had much opportunities. We started experimenting on ourselves. It was ugly picture. Little by little we started to understand how and why. Of course we learn till we are alive and I make no difference.
How many tattoos do you have? What was the last one you got and who did it?
I cannot count them all. With the time they merged into one big. I was covering tattoos done when I was experimenting on myself. I made my hand red/black. Different people are finishing this project.
Each artist has his own style? What is yours?
From years I am trying to work on my own designs but it is difficult to describe my style. It has a dose of gothic romanticism a bit surrealism and all this carved in stone that lasts forever. He he. Not an easy to explain. I like stone ornaments, pre-renesainse profiles and all this of course how I see it. It is important for me to be recognizable.
I know that you draw not only on people but on paper as well. Tell me about your drawing – what you like to do, what inspires you?
Yes, I always draw and paint on pieces of paper around me. I paint the same dark romantic images. Sometimes I am adding a pinch of fetish and erotica but just a tiny bit. I am working on “Seasons “ cycle inspired by Vivaldi. Four paintings dedicated to each of the seasons in the year. Also I am working on paintings inspired by TARO cards. Together with Sabin Boykinov (whom I met through Facebook) we are doing some paintings together in which we share the same sheets and we get very interesting results. He is exceptional artist who is working for leading world gaming companies and with whom is a great pleasure to work with. We are thinking of exhibition of our mutual work. Inspiration? Comes from everywhere – my fears, the world that surrounds us, empty and abandoned buildings, ancient Rome history, The third Reich totalitarian esthetics, nature.
Tattoo Fest Sofia. When, how, why, where? When it started, how and why and where will be the next edition.
We started with Tattoo Fest Sofia in 2001st and first edition was in NDK. Back then it was way more difficult. Tattoos were not so popular, there was no Internet no TV reality shows. We made 13 editions so far and we always were trying to present show for people with different interests. We have promoted musicians on Tattoo Fest stage, different artists and performers, parcour, calligraphy, air brush, seminars with different artists, Body suspension.
We always wanted to get all Bulgarian artists in one place, to have unity. It is the only way to learn from each other and get batter artists and people and move forward. Otherwise everyone will stay in his own little world, that makes people go against each other.
Soon we will be announcing the dates for 14th edition.
At the last fest I saw your daughter drawing with you and tattooing an orange. I know we spoke about that – would you help her and guide her to develop her artistic side and if she wants to be a tattoo artist would you advice something “mode practical” as profession.
My older daughter Mina is very good in painting. She goes in art profiled school. She wants to be a tattoo artist. Of course there is a lot of time to that moment and everything is possible. Mina comes all summer in the studio as an apprentice – cleaning, tattooing oranges, learning from master’s paintings. She is very good in drawing with tablet. She can be a very good artist in 6 – 7 years time.
My kids are always been a part of the Tattoo Fest. In 2014 we did art fusion with Mina and I was very proud by the fact that it was seen from a lot of people that were cheering. In the rest of the time all three of them Mina, Momchil and Angelina were entertaining the little guests in the kid’s corner.
What is the most strange tattoo you ever did?
I have stopped been surprised long time ago but maybe the star on the eyelid of old gentleman.
What you would not tattoo and when you would say no to someone who wants a tattoo?
I always say no to underage people and I do not like copying others people designs.
What advice you would give to the people about to get tattoo?
I’d advice them to take a look at the work of different artists in order to pick the style they like most. Do ask for individual design – not to imitate others tattoos. To choose wisely and not to rush things up.
You can find Emo in his studio at Parchevich Street No, 55 in Sofia Bulgaria. Even if you dont considering getting tattoo, the time with Emo will enrich you and will give you interesting perspective on the life.