Artist Rita Zolotukhina transfers plants to bodies without sketches and drawings, using prints. She invented such a technique herself - as a result of the work, they come out so realistic that they gain tens of thousands of likes, inspire and make you want to make a flower on your own body. Rita told how she waits for certain phases of flowering, where she looks for rare plants and how she finds clients.
Text: Daria Bigun
About childhood and connection with nature
My childhood is my grandmother and mother. They always knew which plant helps from what and what helps. This knowledge of healing has stayed with me forever and formed a love for nature. It was believed in the family that Kalanchoe juice helps against colds. Before going to bed in childhood, you need mint and lemon balm leaves, chamomile - for the beauty of your hair, and geranium or jasmine in the room can provoke a headache. As a child, I played a lot with flowers, made dolls from dandelions, and the leaves from the tree served as an exchange currency.
I was born in Donetsk and lived there until I was twenty. I have always loved to study, I was an excellent student, I went to different Olympiads. And she loved to draw very much. I decided to apply for an architect - in our city it was the only option for those who would like to continue drawing. When I finished my studies, I left for Kiev with a small backpack. This move has become to some extent zeroing for me. I have been interested in tattooing for a long time, but apart from sketches, I had no experience. I was lucky: I came to one studio and the guys who worked there agreed to teach me and took me to the team. My first tattoos were simple geometric shapes, but from the very beginning there was an understanding that I wanted to do something non-standard. I wanted to work with watercolors and plants.
About own technique
I came up with my own technique, it needs live plants or a herbarium. I do not use sketches or drawings. First, I prepare the skin for transferring the pattern, then I press the plant on which a special dye is applied (I came up with its composition myself), and then I make a tattoo right on the place of the print, repeating the shape and all the smallest details, copying the color, shades and volume of a living plant, which I'm looking at in the process. Roughly speaking, I paint a portrait of a plant, which is why the tattoos come out so believable. For my technique, I came up with the #liveleaftattoo tag. Sometimes clients say what they want, in what tones, in what place, tell about themselves and share personal stories. Then I begin to feel which plant is suitable for this person, and I bring it to the session - often it is a direct hit.
Sometimes people themselves bring a plant that is important to them. I once did a stunning cornflower tattoo all along my body. For this work, the girl came from Vilnius to Kiev a year after our first correspondence. We needed live cornflowers and waited for the flowering season. She prepared and grew some of the flowers on her balcony, having come with them to visit me.
For another tattoo, a client brought a suitcase of small trees of a certain type from London to Bordeaux - it was a blue spruce. Or, for example, a girl in Berlin needed a Siberian rose, which cannot be found in Europe, and she was handed over as a herbarium from the archive of the biology department of a Russian university. Another tattoo - ginkgo biloba on the whole back: a client plucked these leaves in Weimar, where the alley and the museum of this plant are located, the oldest bicentennial tree, and even Goethe dedicated one of his poems there to the shape of a ginkgo leaf as a symbol of friendship.
Often people bring me self-grown plants from their gardens and flower beds. They are transported and carried with them through countries and cities, on airplanes in special boxes.They dry up the herbarium, go hunting in botanical and flower gardens.
About finding plants and traveling
I spend a lot of time in nature, with plants, a lot of my attention is directed there. If I live in some area for at least a week, I have a kind of map in my head of what is growing where, what I saw near the house, in the park. I communicate with flower growers, I keep the flowering cycles in my head.
There used to be a stereotype that a tattoo artist is a male profession, now there are many more artists in the field, and there are a lot of girls' clients. I believe that any business has no gender. You either do something well, professionally, or you don't. I love that we are all different.
I travel a lot and have developed an immunity called "I feel good everywhere." I move without running away from something - I just try myself in different places. This opens me up a lot of knowledge about new plants, new species, new terrain. I have a very specific technique, and it is very important for me to be surrounded by nature. This makes me happy. There is gastronomic tourism, and I have a kind of plant tourism.
For example, when I first got into the jungle in Brazil, I had a clouded mind for two days. I did not expect such strength and such beauty. I really love living in nature, it is a great luxury. But I also love cities. In the city, you get inspired by other things. There are three places I love most on earth right now: Brazil, Bali and Berlin. Clients find me themselves when I'm around. Now I have returned to Kiev for a while and I also enjoy it.
I see and know that there are already tattooists who use my technology, but this does not affect what I do at all. I am inspired by the feedback I get from my tattoos. I am very happy to hear stories about how people's lives change after I get them a tattoo.
When I came up with the idea of making prints, I knew that no one had used this technique before. My life cycle and my biorhythms are coordinated with plants, so it is difficult for me to get a tattoo. I cannot keep a record for the year ahead because it is important for me to know if I can find a certain flower in the next month. Will it bloom or will you have to wait. I really love what I do and am grateful for the opportunity to live and work in this way.