Interview by Krysia for TF Magazine, Poland.
1.Please tell us more about your background. For how long have you been involved in the tattoo scene?
I have been tattooing for over ten years now, but really it almost feel like 5…it feels like the first 5 years were so thin in learning compares to the last 5. Because I was mostly learning by myself, it felt like I wasn’t learning anything, I had no one to tell me if what I was doing was correct or not, so it made the learning curve that much slower…looking back now I know I was still learning. But the moment I started to work in other studios with different other artists, the learning was so much more dense and rich and full that somehow it makes the first 5 years look thin and empty, but they were just different I suppose. So my involvement in the tattoo scene also started 5 years ago as I was more receptive to it and was more willing to go out there to talk and share with other artists. Before that, I didn’t have the confidence to do so.
2.What made you go this way? (Have you ever had a different idea for life? What were you doing before you started tattooing?)
Before I started tattooing I was a bartender. I started to work in bars at 18 until later when I started Tattooing and as I was studying Film Animation at University. But there was no way I would ever have a “regular” job. I always knew my life would not be set in a ‘conventional’ manner, I knew a 9 to 5 job, repeating the same thing day after day was not the kind of life I wanted to live. So everything I did, every decision I made, was directed to create a life that was going to reflect who I was and who I wanted to be. Growth and evolution as human being is very important to me. And, so far so good, I am definitely happy on how things turned out, doing a job that I love and travelling the world is very helpful in opening the mind and growing
3.Why did you choose dotwork? What effects do you want to achieve in your work? Which aspects are the most important for you? What fascinates you?
I don’t really remember, “choosing” to do dotwork, maybe dotwork chose me…ahah!! I think it is the option that became more obvious and that made more sense to me as I was working on improving my style. I was very much drawn to the texture it gave to each pieces. What is important to me for each tattoo that I do, is to constantly do something different then the one before. I think that is the hardest thing to do, to incessantly renew yourself, that is the greatest challenge…Another big challenge is to not let yourself be affected by your influences, by artists that inspire you. Whether you want it or not ideas that you see on a daily basis sticks to your subconscious and get out when you go to the drawing table, the challenge is to make sure you make those ideas your own, it is obvious that copying is never an option. But all of us are influenced and inspired, no one can deny that, I even think it is necessary to be so.
And that is why, I try to look in different type of Art for my influences and inspirations, so I don’t get “trapped” in them. I can be influenced and inspired as much by Tattoos then by Architecture, or Dance and Theatre. To have a good variety of influence I find is an excellent way to not get “stuck” in your own mind. I also like to keep an idea and really make sure I exhausted all the possible sides of it, often new and better ideas will emerge from that.
4.Unlike other artists, who perform dotwork tattoos, you use not only black ink. I like it. Tell us about colors in your tattoos.
I guess, that stem from the desire to be different, so many artists are doing black dotwork. Then I would just be another black dotworkers. Plus, I love colors, so why not. It’s as simple as that I guess! Ahah! And I love contrast and I find that colours allow for more beautiful contrast within one piece.
5.Please describe your shop, workplace and tell me something about Montreal. I know that many great artists live there. How popular are tattoos in your city?
I work at Tatouage Royal, with a crew of 8 talented Artists, all with our own and unique styles and personality. It’s amazing how different we all are and yet we still manage to work together. I think differences are important to have around for greater inspiration. Differences are what make you get out of your comfort zone. There’s a saying from Neale Donald Walsch that says: “life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. I couldn’t agree more…
The owner of the Studio, Dom, is someone who appreciate art and tattoos and understand the business well enough to let each of us work with the necessary freedom. We also have our awesome manager Kim, who takes good care of the Studio and of each us, not always an easy job I’d say!…The shop is situated in a popular area in the city of Montreal. Montreal is a multi-ethnic and cultural city, summer time is full of activity such as Music, Danse and Comedy Festival, some mainstream and other a bit more alternative. Some people say of Montreal that it’s a smaller version of Berlin, I kind of agree. And as in Berlin, we have quite an amazing selection of Tattoo Artists and Studios, which definitely contribute to Tattoos being popular.
6.How do you create your projects? Do you use computer programs or you draw on paper? What is the hardest part of this process? Where do you look inspirations?
The projects I create are partly based on what my clients want mix with what I have in mind of course! J . The placement on the body gives a good clue on which direction I’m going to take also. If they are bigger project like a sleeve for example, I will start by creating a basic conceptual idea, and from there build each elements that will be included in the whole piece, by drawing a little bit on paper and then bringing it into my computer to finish it of. I work in a very instinctual and organic way, and I like that. I also try to not stay hooked on my first basic ideas, because I know that in between the basic conceptual idea on paper and putting it on the client’s skin things can change, so there a necessary adaption. Thing that were working on paper might not work on skin. The unknown and uncertainty that this way of working entail is something I very much like, it does require a good amount of trust between my clients and I, and I feel very lucky that most of them do trust me. It means that my mind can go wherever it needs to go! It’s awesome! As for my inspirations they mostly come from all sorts of sources: films, architecture, Sculpture even music, basically Art in all its various form.
7.Do you prefer when client comes with a fixed idea of a tattoo or is it better to leave you all the thinking and designing? What features should have a person who wants a tattoo from you?
I like that people come to me with a basic idea of where they want the tattoo to go, it gives me a starting point. The idea doesn’t need to be clear, in fact, it’s better it isn’t. References are welcome, as long as they are not attached to it. I also need my clients to have a good open mindedness about the project; great idea often comes with great freedom, not always, but often. And I like when they participate to the idea, give their opinion, but again, be open minded about it. I also don’t like to work with existing symbolism or imagery; I’d prefer to create something totally unique, something that with time will grow to represent the person that wears it.
8. Is there something beside tattooing that you are interested in? What makes you happy? (Tell us something about yourself that will allow us to know you better? – character traits, what do you like, what is important for you… etc.)
Surfing makes me happy, unfortunately I don’t get to do it very often, but I make sure I create the opportunity so I can do it as often as possible, I’ve been surfing for about 15 years…but because I don’t do it often, I look like a beginner when I do it, so I’m not very good at it…ahaha! But I don’t care, it’s so much fun. It’s that time where I allow myself to be just my simple and vulnerable self. To just be! The power of the ocean makes you humble, and it remind you of how small you are on this earth, and it’s a good thing to be reminded of that from time to time. And then when you catch a wave, there’s no feeling like it, nothing else exist and nothing else matter.
Meditation is also something that I cannot go without, if I go one day without it I know it…I’m not as centred and balanced. It’s what keeps me sane!
Friends and Family are also important to me, it’s also time with them that keep me sane and it’s what keeps my feet on the ground. They are the necessary balance and peace in my busy and active life.
9.I know that you like European tattoo conventions. How often you travel? What places, countries do you like most?
I like to travel twice a year, few months at a time, if I can, it’s not always possible, but I try. I very much like Germany, where I found a second home and a sense of belonging. There are so many Amazing Artists there, with a variety of unique styles. And I like German people, I like their directness, there’s no fuss! Things are said as they are and I greatly appreciate that, which is great if you don’t like drama, I very much dislike drama. I stay away from it as much as possible!
I also like places that have beaches where I can surf (as you know now!) and where the sun is shining, although I would probably miss snowboarding if I’d stay too long in a sunny place!! The west coast of Mexico is pretty awesome! And the Mexican culture is quite fascinating as well it is definitely worth experiencing …