Tattoo Stories: Jinjer’s Tatiana Shmaylyuk on First, Worst, Most Painful Ink

Ukrainian metal outfit Jinjer wear their hearts on their sleeves. The quintet’s stellar new EP, Micro, packs a punch across its five technically demanding songs, with vocalist Tatiana Shmaylyuk showcasing both her emotional and vocal range with skill and ferocity, taking on topics from humanity’s assault on mother nature to abusive, puritanical education systems.

Shmaylyuk wears her heart on her sleeve in another way, too: via her colorful and, in some case, self-inflicted tattoos. We recently caught up with the vocalist to discuss her ink.

What was your most painful tattoo?
Tatiana Shmaylyuk I always thought the most painful place to have a tattoo on was a foot — until I got my belly and ribs inked. Although the artist used anesthetic cream on me several times during the session, I could hardly endure the pain that wouldn’t go away. So this tattoo still needs some touch-ups [see photo above], but when I imagine going back to this torture, I don’t want to get tattooed any more.

What was your first tattoo?
The first one was done on me by me when I was 16 and my family gave me a tattoo machine as a birthday present. My ankle was a perfect spot for self-tattooing — that’s what I thought. I drew a sketch on and then recreated that on my skin with a pen. So basically we can call it hand-free tattoo. That was a color one of a sun drowning in water, which represented an impossible combo of two opposite elements — fire and water. Since then I still wear it on me and don’t want to cover it up so far.

Fun fact: My first client was my mom. She sacrificed her back in the name of my further success in tattooing. Sorry, mom, I became something else.

How about your most embarrassing tattoo? 
Frankly speaking, I feel quite neutral about all my tattoos. I don’t admire them and I don’t regret about having them done. There is one which is the suckiest. On my left wrist you can see a blur done by me, of course. This is an image of a luchadora’s head — a head of a Mexican female wrestler — framed with a circle of letters saying, “Let’s wrestle.” I don’t know what I was thinking about that day … Probably feeling badass. I have no desire to get rid of it because it is a good reminder of how not to do.

Do you have any band tattoos?
I don’t have any band tattoo on me and I won’t ever get it. However, I have an image of the Clown from Slipknot, which I did myself — duuuh. But not because I was a crazy fan, but because I didn’t have a printer back then, so I just chose a random picture in suitable size — that was on a CD cover or something like that. A few years after I added some script to it.

Do you have a favorite tattoo artist?
Not really. But that is definitely not me. [Laughs]