40 Stylish Realism Tattoos by Zlata Kolomoyskaya

It’s been two years since I first discovered the work of Zlata Kolomoyskaya. I have to admit, I wasn’t too impressed as the particular design I came across wasn’t one of @goldy_z’s most memorable pieces. But as I became more familiar with her work, a budding love affair was born. Zlata’s ability to capture a realistic likeness in her work is indisputable, but it’s her unique style that make her work so special. It’s as if she has her own indescribable Instagram filter which gives every piece a little extra intrigue. I could go on and on about how eagerly I anticipate each and every one of Zlata’s designs, but instead, I’ll let her work speak for itself. Below, are forty of my favorite designs by East Coast artist Zlata Kolomoyskaya.

Freddie Mercury

As if Zlata somehow anticipated the resurgence in popularity of one of rock and roll’s most celebrated icons, she finished this piece only a few months before the release of Bohemian Rhapsody. Which, if you haven’t seen already, is one of the most entertaining biographical films ever released.

A girl on a swing

You’ll have a hard time staring at this design for any length of time without being inspired to write a book, song, or screenplay. It’s not too often that I come across a tattoo that oozes such grandeur and makes you remember all of your childhoods dreams at once.


Thanks to my parents for letting me watch The Addams Family at the not-so-ripe age of not old enough, I still harbor a slight fear for Wednesday, and, well, all of her family. Did anyone else view The Addams Family as a horror movie in disguise when they were little?

A little mermaid

This is Amy Adams as Ariel from The Little Mermaid, right? When it comes to Ariel tattoos, and I’ve seen a lot, this is by far my favorite. The turbulent texture on the surface of the water and the way the light penetrates the it are fascinating details.

A guitar

There are guitar tattoos and then there are guitar tattoos. This is the latter. In my opinion, this is one of Zlata’s most beautiful designs. I know. It’s just a guitar. But how clean is this thing?

A photo

Artists are often judged by their ability to accurately illustrate human anatomy. And if you’ve ever tried to draw anything more than a stick figure, you probably know why. The fact that Zlata was able to create this amazing example in one of the most difficult artistic mediums is nothing short of amazing.

Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain likes tattoos. He famously got a skull from Miami Ink’s Chris Garver, which is just one of his many tattoos. I only caught Anthony on TV a few times. But when I did, I always enjoyed the show. What a great tribute to a great personality. May you rest in peace.

A Man in a Bowler Hat

A Man in a Bowler Hat by Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte.

Salvador Dali

If you hadn’t noticed already, Zlata has a thing for other artists, which is completely understandable. Art does inspires art after all. I don’t know what’s more impressive here, the stunning likeness and realism that Zlata was able to achieve in the portrait, or the creative was she incorporates elements of the artist’s most famous works into the design.

An eye

Because we are so used to looking at eyes everyday, realistic versions like the one above evoke a powerful sense of familiarity no matter what the quality may be. The stunning representation features fantastic reflections and wonderful black and grey ink details that almost appear red.

An anglerfish

Anglerfish bring their own light to the party. Which really is the only way to go when you call the deepest darkest abysses of the ocean home. This design is all about lighting. Black and grey ink has never been so beautiful.

A dog

Leave it to Zlata to capture the angle not commonly captured. Dog tattoos are something of a favorite of mine, so when I see a new and creative piece like the one above I get a little excited inside. If I were to get another tattoo of one of my dogs, I could only hope it would turn out this good.

A VW van

There’s nothing cooler than a Volkswagen van. Sure, they may top out at 56 mph but who needs speed when you’re getting there in such style. This design just oozes nostalgia for me and I hope we get an updated snap when everything is said and done.

An astronaut

Well, I think we can all agree that this is the bar when it comes to astronaut tattoos. One of the most impressive aspects of illustration has always been reflections. Everything about this design is top notch but the reflection in the astronaut’s visor is clearly the focal point.

A baby elephant on a swing

If you were worried about Zlata’s designs not being cute enough, you may now rest at ease. Looking at this design, you may find yourself wondering just what makes Zlata’s designs so ridiculously good. And a big part of that answer would be lighting. The way she captures light in her work is indicative of a well-lighted photograph by a photographer who knows what they’re doing.

Tupac Shakur

West side! East side. I just hope everyone gets along. Tupac and Biggie are by far the most widely tatted rappers, which would be expected given their notoriety and the impact they’ve had on modern hip hop.

Robert De Niro

I have to say, this is one of the most impressive portraits I’ve seen in a while. De Niro is the man, and even though I’m not his biggest fan, I wouldn’t mind waking up with this little beauty on my arm in the morning. Zlata, you Ma’am are a genius.

A kiss

Kissing lips is a fun and interesting concept. And one that I come across on a somewhat regular basis. But blink and you’ll miss what makes this design stand out from the rest. Besides nailing the proportions down like the boss that she is, Zlata added a few cosmic details inside the mouth and around the lips that put this design in a different dimension.

A lion

This mesmerizing lion tattoo is bold, harmonious, and full of details that bring it to life in way that makes you want to pull up a chair and stare at it for hours. I created an entire list of tiger and lion tattoos a few weeks back and this design was the best of the bunch.

A boy and an elephant

Scenes like this are something you would have never seen in ink a few decades ago. Slim needle techniques, which allow Zlata to achieve so much detail, have changed the industry for the better. The only thing limiting tattoo artists today is their imaginations.

A turtle

I don’t know what’s more spectacular, the bold texture in the turtle’s leathery skin or the details in the skyscrapers perched atop the it’s back. Zlata’s creativity never ceases to amaze me, and everything that she touches turns to gold.

A cat

For all you cat lovers out there, you’re welcome. Is what Zlata probably would have said if she was typing these words herself. In addition to the sentimental value this design has for its owner, the quality of this cat certainly makes it a pleasure to wear as well.

A letter

This postcard and letter is as gorgeous as it probably is sentimental. Tattoos with an underlying meaning are always more special than designs chosen strictly for their aesthetic appeal alone. So when you combine both sentiment and beauty, well, you get something you—as well as those around you—can enjoy for the rest of your life.

A vintage beauty

If you’re a sucker for classic beauty and that air of elegance often associated with times where people actually cared about what they looked like in public, then you’ll enjoy this vintage black and grey ink portrait.

A wolf

Like the lion featured earlier, this wolf is something any nature-lover will more than appreciate. I have to hand it to her, when it comes to designs of animals, Zlata has no equal. Wolves, cats, dogs, lions, whatever your preference may be, if you’ve go the cash, Zlata’s got you covered.

A dragonfly

Here’s a fun fact for you. The lifespan of a dragonfly ranges from 6 months to 7 years. Who knew that dragonflies lived for so long!?

Winged Victory

Most artists are inspired by other artists. Well, that’s pretty obvious, but Zlata has a tendency to show it in her work more than others. The Winged Victory is one of the main attractions at the Louvre in Paris as is displayed prominently at the top of a grand staircase for maximum impact.

A goat

If Tom Brady were to get a tattoo, it would probably look something like this. The way the artist used mostly negative space against a heavy black ink backdrop to illustrate the goat gives this design a unique vibe that makes this design the undeniably GOAT of all goat tattoos.

A whale

Humpback whales are the most famous species of whale. They may not be the biggest, the fastest, or the easiest to shave, but they are by far the most commonly portrayed whales in everyday life.

A meditating rabbit

If your spirit animal just happens to be a rabbit, then this is a tattoo you will most definitely appreciate. At first glance this looks like a man with a rabbit’s head. But upon closer inspection, you’ll notice fury arms and legs which make this design a rabbit with a body of human proportions.

A jungle scene

If you’re wondering what a slim needle tattoo looks like when it’s healed, above is an example of just that. As you can see, there’s an obvious softening of lines, but the image still maintains its integrity relatively well.

A stag

Complete with a hunting blind and a stag-like constellation, this portrait reminds me of those horrible 80’s photos you got from a mall photographer—but in a good way of course. The crisp lines and overall clarity of this design are almost unreal.

A dog

This dog tattoo is of shockingly high quality. There’s nothing that makes me cringe more than a realistic portrait that doesn’t do its subject justice. Which is why finding an artist with skills like Zlata’s is necessary when choosing to go that route.

A stretching tiger

Both dogs and cats love hitting this pose. And if humans had four legs, I’m sure we would as well. The way the log and the tiger’s tail extend beyond the  portrait’s edge is a fascinating effect.


Looking ever-so-like an award-winning photo, this portrait of a couple cows is truly awe-inspiring. And if that isn’t enough hyphenated words for you, you can always leave an angry-sounding message in the comments below.

A lion in a suit

The last time I saw a lion in a three-piece suit was, well, never. But there’s always a first time for everything, and I have to say, I’m really digging the cut of this guy’s suit.

A curious cat

The pattern in this cat’s fur is really a sight to behold. Cat tattoos are just as common as dog tattoos, but I’ve noticed that cat tattoos tend to be more creative than their canine counterparts, which is evident in the example above.

A girl fishing

And the award for the most creative sleeve-type tattoo goes to … this person. While technically not a sleeve, you can just feel the potential this design has to be part of something truly great (not that it isn’t already). When it comes to creativity, Zlata has that stuff in spades.

A portrait of a cat

Made for someone who obviously loves their cat with a full heart, this tintype style portrait is one of the coolest and most creative cat tattoos I’ve ever seen. I don’t know why anyone would get a basic cat tattoo when you can get something like this.

A bunny costume

Would you believe me if I told you that this tattoo only took three hours and forty-five minutes to complete? Because that’s what Zlata claims, and frankly, I’m astounded that such a detailed piece could be completed in such a short amount of time. Zlata, you just went way up in my book.