14 Of The Most Delicate (& Stunning) Tattoos We've Ever Seen

Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
After watching her best friend and tattooist ink up their friend group, Ukranian-born artist Stanislava Pinchuk (who goes by Miso) made a decision. Nope, not to get another tattoo herself — but to learn how to do it.

Over the past few years, Pinchuk has turned her creative eye to a new canvas: the body. She's given numerous hand-poked tattoos to many friends around the globe — Paris, Melbourne, Tokyo, and New York. The latter city has, more than the others, inspired many of her works (such as a delicate map of the High Line she created on a friend's upper back). In lieu of working at a shop, Pinchuk does the tattoos in her personal space; rather than accepting money, she trades for things she wants or needs, like books or a bottle of whiskey.

Ahead, Pinchuk opens up about her technique, some of her best trades, and the badass female tattoo artist from the '60s who inspired her to be who she is today.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
How is your process different from going to a tattoo shop?
"My equipment and hygiene are the same as a shop tattooist, but instead of using a machine, I instead hand-poke [the skin] dot-by-dot. It mimics the motions a machine would make, but is just a little slower and definitely a little quieter."

Constellation map for Stephanie; traded for photography.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
Wattle branch for Bobby; traded for photography.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
You also do works on paper. How do you think about your tattoo art in relation to your other art?
"It’s a funny relationship! Working full-time on solo shows is really meditative, but it’s also a slow process that can be a little isolating. Tattooing is such a nice thing to do after a long studio day; you’re challenged by another person creatively and are doing something so permanent really quickly. An exhibition of my work usually takes six months, and no one gets to preview it. Then, when it’s done, my artwork disappears into private collections or museum storage. But the tattoos I give are carried with their owners, so I get to see them a lot more. The two practices make for a nice contrast, and they definitely inspire one another."

Wildflowers for Jacqueline; traded for a drawing.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
Stars for Hana; traded for a book.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
When did the idea for making trades come into play with your tattoos?
"Giving tattoos is really intimate to me — it’s not something I feel I can put a financial value on. Trading is an alternative economy that suits me, and we both walk away with something, as well as an appreciation for one another’s talents. Most of the things I’m surrounded by in my studio or wear have come from friends. Even just trading for a nice dinner or a book that a friend thinks I should read means a lot."

Australian wildflowers for Milly; traded for dinner.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
Moon for Miranda; traded for an artwork.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
What’s the strangest trade you’ve ever been offered for one of your tattoos?
"By far it was for a hard-boiled sugar statue of myself. It sounded amazing, like something Jeff Koons would exhibit, but also like an invitation for ants to invade my studio. The latter reasoning had to win out, unfortunately."

Arrow for Charlie; traded for photography.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
Wildflower map for Karlee; traded for tailoring.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
What do you like best about what you do?
"I love being really challenged to meet someone halfway and create the perfect thing for them. The hours of drawing (and re-drawing), fitting it, scaling it, eating dinner, tattooing, and having a glass of wine make for such a nice night. It's great to tattoo people that you know inside and out. It means I come to the [artistry] with a greater understanding of why a friend might be getting something done, and what it means to them. I also have a sense of their tastes and and what suits them stylistically, which makes for better tattoos. I don’t have to worry if someone is getting a tattoo for the wrong reason, if they’re rushing it, or if they’re going to regret it later because it doesn’t suit them. Since we’re friends, there aren’t those communication barriers."

Constellation map for Beci; traded for a rug.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
Branches for Beci; traded for a book.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
Have you ever tattooed yourself?
"I have a good few tattoos, but none that I’ve given myself! Somehow, I think I would go a bit easy on myself and do a terrible job."

Orion’s Belt for Jessie; traded for dinner.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
Wildflowers for Tessa; traded for a drawing.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
Can you tell me a little about your relationship with the amazing tattoo artist Cindy Ray?
"Cindy Ray was a bit of a pioneer tattooist; she was one of the first tattooed pin-ups. In the '60s, she was a single mother, totally covered in tats, and tattooing in one of the first shops in Melbourne. She’s an amazing and resilient woman, and somehow she doesn’t have one bit of an ego. Cindy is 73 now, but she still tattoos in her old shop on weekends. She invited me for dinner at her house the first time I went to her shop and got tattooed. There aren’t many tattooists who would do that, and I feel really, really lucky to call her a friend."

Firework map for Kes; traded for dinner.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stanislava Pinchuk.
Moon for Marian; traded for whiskey.
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