the transient spaces of stanislava pinchuk, aka miso

We speak to the artist on marking and mapping experience and skins.

by Wendy Syfret
08 May 2015, 3:42am

Photography Ben Thomson

Stanislava Pinchuk is an artist who exists between different worlds. Her works are acquired by Australia's largest galleries and prized by collectors as slivers of local art history that will be chased for decades. But in the evenings, when the sun sets on her studio tucked around the back of Melbourne's Nicholson building, she's another type of artist.

Her delicate hand rendered stick-and-poke tattoos have become quite a prize of honor among the city's young and creative. Traded for meals and other personal offerings, they're for people who don't have permanent walls to hang work. A prize for her friends, they carry her illustrations on their bodies. And in their own way chart her path as one of the country's most celebrated young creatives.

But Stan herself is a shape shifter. As her work moves between illustrations, zines, tattoos, and once street art, so does she. She lives between Melbourne, Japan, and the Ukraine and goes by both Stanislava and also Miso.

Currently in Melbourne to prepare for an upcoming show, i-D caught up with her to speak about the strange task of coming of age as an artist, and not letting it slow you down.

You see yourself primarily as a fine artist, but are you surprised by the response your tattoos receive?
I am kind of surprised about how it resonates with people. It's something I do because I have one show a year. That's what I work on for 16 hours a day every week. So for me it's a hobby for after hours. Something for my mates. It's really cool people like it.

Have those experiences of working on friends fed back into your art?
Totally. It's nice to be challenged by someone else, because they have to wear this thing for the rest of their life. It's nice to meet halfway with someone, and it ends up feeding back into my own work.

In your work there's a dichotomy between the public and the private. Are you more inspired and productive when you're with people or alone?
I think both. That's why I like having both practices. For my artwork I need quite intense isolation and a lot of headspace. I find it really hard to share studios because I feel it takes a lot out of me emotionally. Making one show a year is still a really hard process for me.

It's fun to be able to pack work away at night and have some drinks, tattoo a mate, and do something super permanent super quickly. There's all the adrenaline and creative energy from another person. I find a lot of times it will reset me for the next day in the studio.

You're only 26, but have been working solidly for a while. What do you think it is about your work that caught and held people's attention?
I have no idea. I feel really lucky, like I was in the right time and the right place. It's actually really overwhelming and quite humbling. That was a really corny answer. These are really good questions for my crisis.

How so?
I've been having a crisis about my 20s this week. I feel really lucky and I think part of that is how receptive Melbourne is of young artists. In Tokyo, age is a big thing. It changes the way someone talks to you and what you're entitled to. I feel like Australia is so free and supportive of young people doing good things. That's actually a really special thing about it.

Do you think much about you age and how the title of "a young artist" plays back into what you make?
I think it's inevitable. For all the good things it's really hard being a young artist. It's not the easiest industry to be in. Other industries have strict career paths and definite ways things are done. But I don't want to let age become a hinderance.

You work across a lot of disciplines, and your work has changed over the years, but are there themes you find yourself returning to?
Definitely, the idea of mapping, the idea of geography, and a personal kind of recording. I guess that's a way for me to filter my experience. I find they're a beautiful shorthand for communicating—especially with tattooing. The idea of marking places back onto the body is something I keep coming back to.

You trade things for tattoos rather than taking money, was that a conscious decision or something that just came about?
No, that was a conscious decision from day one. I'm not a shop tattooist, I find it a deeply intimate and personal experience. You've got a friend in front of you, half naked, going through a bit of pain, and you're bringing them through it. It's a very strange experience to quantify with money.

I'm a really big believer in alternative economies. It's got to this point where a lot of the things around me—the artworks and the clothes—are from trades. Everything has really beautiful memories attached to it. It's one of the best things I've done creatively.

It's so personal isn't it, like giving someone a birth mark.
Totally, totally. It's a very intense thing to do to someone. It's a lot of responsibility and a lot of trust.

In a distant way, it's like a performing surgery, you're altering someone's body.
I mean a surgeon helps, I'm just decorating. 


Text Wendy Syfret
Photography Ben Thomson

Stanislava Pinchuk