The artwork of artist Anya Gladun

Where were you born and where are you from?                                                    I was born in Russia, in a town called Lipetsk just south of Moscow. I moved to the US in June of 2006. I now reside in Washington, DC.

How did you get introduced to the tattoo culture?
I grew up in a pretty conservative environment, with the exception of my very open-minded, creative and supportive parents, who never really suppressed me in expressing myself the way I saw fit. When I asked my father if he'd let me get a tattoo, he simply said, "Well, if I say no, would it change anything?" which pretty much sums up me circa 2002 (that's when the first tattoo experience happened). At the time I just wanted a tattoo, and I wasn't very exposed to the culture itself, maybe because tattooing wasn't very popular at the time and the stereotype of a tattooed person was (and, for the most part, still is) that you are a criminal, a drug addict, and there is definitely something wrong with you.
I wanted a small tattoo. I just wanted to be cool. I got two more tattoos before moving here in '06, but that still somehow didn't make me get involved with the tattooing culture. It wasn't until I actually went and sought an apprenticeship, and started one, that I realized what tattooing was all about.

When did you get started?
June of 2008.

Do you remember the first tattoo that you did?
Yes, it was a little Dali-esque elephant on my friend Melody, who is also a tattooer (and now a proud mom as well).

How would you describe your style of tattooing?
I don't even know if it has a name. I think it's leaning more towards new school, very colorful, comic book/cartoon inspired; I strive for dynamism, livelihood in my work. I like my pieces to be alive and fluid, and fit well with the body they're on. I try to do a little bit of everything though - traditional, black and gray, realism. I haven't been tattooing long, so I try to educate myself as much as I can on different styles. Don't want to settle.

What were you doing before you got into the tattoo business, and what made you change?
It will sound really odd, but I was going to be a teacher of English and German, while still in Russia. I studied English most of my life, and attended a university in my hometown. When I moved here to the US, I realized that I could and probably should do art for a living, since it has been and always will be my true passion. And, as I said above, henna drawing sort of pushed me in the direction of tattooing. I personally think it was destiny. I think tattooing found me, not the other way round.

What influences your artwork?
Everything around me does. Objects, situations, words, other people's work.  Among other things, I like going to tattoo conventions; it's such a humbling and inspiring experience. I always come back renewed and more eager to draw than ever.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get their first tattoo?
Okay, number one thing: don't be like me and go to a hack shop when you're 16 because you're such a badass rebel, and get a Chinese symbol the true meaning of which you will only find out 5 years down the line (true story). Make sure you have an idea and an open mind, and pick someone you can trust, based on their portfolio. Oh, and also... don't base it on "how much for this?”. You're not here to get the best deal, you're here to get the best tattoo. If your resources are limited, wait till they aren't, then go. Trust me, it will be worth every penny.

Do you see your self doing anything other than tattooing?
No way. I am my job. I simply do not exist outside of tattooing. It took over my life within the last 3 years, and I am blessed I found something I love so much, being only 24. I really am lucky. This is something I want to do until I die, and I have never been more sure of anything in my life.

Do you have a favorite quote?
"Paradise is not where you go, it's how you feel."

This is from the movie "The Beach". Sometimes all of us feel like we want to run away. We feel trapped, unhappy, and we just want to get away from it all, moving to some dreamland where everything is perfect and all of our problems will cease to exist. Fact is,
that will never happen. I learned it the hard way. Running away solves nothing, and all of your problems will follow you wherever you go, because they are in your head. The hardest challenge of life is finding happiness within yourself.

Where do you see the tattoo culture 10 years from now?
Tattooing evolved greatly over the past 10 years already (in this country at least), and it's hard to imagine something that cannot be done on skin nowadays, so I think it's only going to get even better from here. The negative stigma associated with tattooing is slowly disappearing, making it more socially acceptable, thus attracting more and more young talented artists and encouraging them to get into it and create amazing skin art. However, I'd like to add that tattooing, although getting massively popularized by the media, will always be a subculture, and a bit rebellious, as well as getting (especially heavily) tattooed. And I think it will always be this way, 10, 20, 30 years from now, it's not rated E for everybody. Takes balls, you know?

Anything else you would like to add?
Some idiot hacked my website so currently I don't have one. I will fix it soon, I promise. For now, you can easily reach me on - Facebook:
Shop: "DC Ink Tattoos", 1350 U St. NW, Washington, DC, 20009
Wednesday through Sunday, 1 pm - 10 pm
Phone number: 202-232-7711 

I'd like to thank Stacy McCleaf ( for everything she's done for me, including spreading the word about this website! And I'd like to thank the creator of this website, Mr.Tattoos, for his genuine interest in the tattooing industry and giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts.