Technology adds a lot of convenience—and nudes—to our daily lives. But it can also destroy our future. At least, that’s what tattoo artist @dsmt thinks. Through glitchy lines and psychedelic imagery, the Ukranian artist inks retro-futuristic pieces that explore the existential anxiety of what comes after the internet age. Part anime, part Blade Runner, his work fuses ’90s-style graphics with the modern digital landscape, creating surrealist—and sometimes sinister—portraits of the joys and dangers of the web. From robotic limbs to digital death sentences like the words “FATAL ERROR,” @dsmt crafts highly detailed tattoos that represent far more than just a drunken mistake. Though, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t want one if you were wasted—I’d definitely get “OFFLINE” inked across my heart.
BULLETT caught up with the artist to talk cyberpunk, cyborgs and tattoo culture.
Favorite Tattoo Artist: @helen.poputnikova
Favorite Song to Tattoo To: “Gesloten Cirkel,” Zombie Machine
How did you get into tattooing?
I was working as a lawyer and realize that wasn’t right—it was boring for me. So I started doing tattoos on myself. After a few tattoos, my wife gave me a tattoo machine as a present for my birthday, and I quit my job to start to tattooing.
When did you get your first tattoo?
It was 12 years ago—I was in Crimea and got my first tattoo straight on the street. It was just some guy who was tattooing on the street for food, and it was a mantis on my leg.
What was the moment you went from liking tattoos to deciding you wanted to be a tattoo artist?
I went to my friend’s tattoo shop and he started tattooing me. Then I started doing it on myself and instantly decided to become a tattoo artist. For me, it was a very emotional experience—I completely fell in love with tattooing.
What role do you think Instagram has played in your career?
It’s the best platform to show people what you do because it instantly connects tattoo artists with customers. Still, sometimes I hate it because it replaces real life for a lot of people and artists—they think internet fame is more important than anything else in their life, and that’s really sad.
What inspires you?
I’m really inspired by cyberpunk, and I really love watching old ‘90s movies like Johnny Mnemonic, Blade Runner, The Matrix. I really love how the vision of the future from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Your work uses a lot of thick black lines, and doesn’t employ more standard shading and
grading techniques. Why is that?
I tried it when I started, but I just don’t like to do it—it’s just unnatural for me.
Your work also uses a lot of internet and technology images. Where does that come from?
All this futuristic stuff that’s now integrated in our lives is very inspiring, but also scary for me—I am very suspicious of our future and of technology. I really think that in the next 50 years, people will be true cyborgs. But it’ll also be part of fashion—embedding mechanic legs instead of human legs and stuff like that. People are seriously going to start doing that—believe me.
Is that why you like to play with optical illusion?
Our world is just an illusion. My work is a reminder for myself, and other people.