Staryy Arbat, a pedestrian street in the historical center of Moscow, is the perfect place to find souvenirs from the World Cup-host country. But for some tourists, it’s not enough to just by a hat, mascot toys or magnets. The real trend here, according to the owner of the tattoo studio Dragon, is to offer “permanent memories” by inking 2018 World Cup tattoos.
“The business now is running good,” Dragon owner Aleksandr Sypkin told to Metro. “About three to four foreigners are coming here each day to get a tattoo, mostly featuring the World Cup symbols. It became a real trend. Those who do not have time to finish the images are even planning to come back after the tournament is over to enjoy the country more and let our masters complete the work.”
Shortly after entering the studio I was able to find an international client. It was Mario Reyes, a driver from Peru. He came here to bring a 2018 World Cup memory in a form of rose tattoos.
“Flowers represent my love for Russia,” the 21-year-old explained. “I did the first rose in Yekaterinburg, started the second one in Saransk and I am finishing it here [in Moscow].”
Reyes added: “There are many stereotypes about people in the country. One comes here and sees the reality about which not many are thinking of. People are very nice and kind, we are very well received. It impressed me a lot.”
The artist working on Reyes’ roses, Andrey Goponiuk, has enjoyed inking fans from all over the world — even when there is a language barrier.
“I made body images for mostly Italian, Mexican, Nigerian, Egyptian, and the U.S. fans,” he said. “We are trying to communicate with body language but conversations do not last too long. But it is not a problem, because I do not have to answer any questions and can work calmly.”
Goponiuk recalled: “I was asked many times to make tattoos of cups and balls. Some even want something bigger, as images of Zabivaka, the official mascot of the tournament… I would really love to make a tattoo of the face of a football player. But I did not have such a client yet.”
Making new body images, however, is not the only trend that is happening in Russia. According to Sypkin, many are also replacing old tattoos with symbols of the World Cup tournament.
“They are coming with some scribbles on hands. One such fan started to brighten a bad work of an artist from somewhere else — to be able to replace the image later,” he said. “As I understood, it will be related with the World Cup theme.”