Tattoos are art. Those who design and ink pieces that will live forever on someone’s skin possess such talent. And some tattooists constantly experiment with different kinds of methods and ink to bring their work to life. Russian artist Maxim Sipakov adds his talents to tattoos in a different way: by digitally adding bright neon lights that animate tattoos and make them especially mesmerizing. We first spotted his work at My Modern Met and instantly fell down a rabbit hole.
It’s like watching someone flip a switch and watching neon turn on. I can hear that crackling light sound effect in my head. And sure, these alterations are all illusions, but that fact doesn’t make them less enthralling. Sipakov tackles all sorts of tattoos from geometric shapes to figures from pop culture such as the Joker (above tattoo by Tattoo Master Murmansk) or Kylo Ren. He seemingly chooses colors and animations to emphasize motion in the finished image. The final product is dreamlike.
If you scroll back through Sipakov’s Instagram feed, you’ll see his art evolve. He started by adding neon motion graphics to soccer players and soccer balls. In those images Sipakov highlighted already dynamic subjects. When he moved into the realm of tattoos (and also nails) he brought movement to static art and added depth. Some of his manipulated tattoos look ready to leap right off the skin.
I adore this one of Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender (tattoo by Lucas Martinelli).
This manipulation of DuckTales‘ Scrooge McDuck (tattoo by Tattoo Moscow) looks like it should hang above a casino in Las Vegas.
And while these lights are all digital for now, it’s probably only a matter of years (or maybe decades) before we can add effects like this to tattoos for real.
Amy Ratcliffe is the Managing Editor for Nerdist and the author of A Kid’s Guide to Fandom, available for pre-order now. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.