On the wall of Pacy’s spacious tattoo studio can be seen various trophies. From Bulgarian competitions, but also from abroad, from Germany or the Netherlands. In the center of the wall, the most impressive one, a huge wooden board from which jump sculptures of Koi carps as it was a peaceful oriental pound. On the written: “1st place of the 2015 tattoo expo, Japanese style”. However, from the man’s own words: “Competitions were good at the beginning, for the notoriety, because it is important for the customers. But I don’t need it anymore.” It is now an accomplished tattoo maker who welcomed us in his studio, near the Marno Pole in Veliko Tarnovo.
When did you make your first tattoo?
My first one was at 13 years old with some friends and a homemade tattoo machine. We did not really know what a real tattoo machine was. There was no internet at the time and no money to buy a good one. Then when I was 23, living at Ruse, I observed a tattoo artist making lettering on my wife. I said to myself: “If he can do that, I can do it too.” I directly opened a studio in VT. I was eight years in a studio near the post in the center, then for 2 years in my current studio. Actually, the first tattoo I made on myself when I was 13, I covered it at 23 (laugh).
Did you have any experience in tattoo making at that time?
In drawing yes. I finished university two times on that field and I was then an art teacher for kids. But it is still totally different on paper and on skin. On the skin, you cannot do it again; you have no time to correct. So, I began with very simple designs, then add more and more details, step by step. What takes two hours now would have taken nine hours back then.
What is your favorite style?
I work especially on Japanese designs but I really can do anything. Just, if I think I cannot do my best, I tell to the customer that it is not for me. I am realistic.
Do you also refuse tattoos you do not like?
Yes, tattoos have meaning, they tell your story. It is not just fashion. You have to know what they symbolize. Many people want that or that, but they do not know what it means. So, I try to speak to them. If I see a stupid idea or just a copy of a tattoo, I prefer not doing it. I did it at the beginning, but now it is not just about the money. Now the most important thing for me is that it’s my name, my signature on the tattoo.
You are now an accomplished tattoo artist. Do you teach your work?
During the first 3 or 4 years, I was alone. After this period I began to welcome students. I had five or six from now. They take one full-month class, learn how to clean and they draw a lot. Then they watch me as I explain the technique, and finally, they tattoo. But there is no rush; if they need more time, it is not a problem. They can also always come back if they have more questions. Then, the good ones stay to work with me. For example, I worked for three years with Piera, who opened a studio in VT.
You are traveling a lot. Do you tattoo abroad?
I lived in Germany for three years, then in Holland and Switzerland. I used to work in Zurich. Now I have my own studio with another artist, Sarah, in Brugg, the No Mercy studio. So now, I am ten days per month in VT and the rest in Switzerland. I prefer to be outside of Bulgaria because it is not so easy for small businesses here. In Switzerland, the costs are higher, but you earn also more money. But my kids are here, so I don’t want to leave the country. Actually, every day I am thinking about coming back here for good. Being between here and Switzerland is a lot of stress, and I do not like my life away from my kids. I have enough work in VT now, and being with my kids is more important than money.
Do you think that your kids may take over your studio?
My daughter seems to like it. She is four, and when she comes to the studio, she puts gloves on, draws and talks with my customers. So maybe she will be a tattoo maker someday (laugh).