Montreal’s Largest Annual Tattoo Convention
September 11th brought on the full-fledged start of Montreal’s largest tattoo convention. It’s a hard work trade with an emerging acceptance and both professional and respectable sides of it came to light that Friday night at 6pm.
The 13th edition of one of Montreal’s largest tattoo conventions gathered together a community of 250 professional tradesmen (and women) who are considered the brightest practitioners of body-art on the international stage. Artists from the USA, Europe and from our very own Canada each took some time to set up and grace us with their best.
Artists were greeted by ready fans for on-the-spot tattoo sessions. The convention had a majority of booths dedicated to artists (and their parlors), taxidermy boutiques, an equipment supply booth, with fashion retailers and art books getting their floor-space as well.
The convention hosted live music from performing artists Flight Distance, Elektroline, and Cédrick Gosselin. As well as presenting the Skull Project III competition. The convention also hosted Ladies of Ink; presenting the work of 30 hard-working female artists for victims of breast cancer.
Luckily enough, Daniela (Friend’n’Photographer extraordinaire) and I were able to chat with some of the artists about their daily lives and their bold professional experiences. We yapped about what the job entails in an era of growing tattoo acceptance and what took so long for this less adversarial view to the body-art industry to form. As tattoo enthusiasm is increasingly gaining a more “mainstream demographic”, the artists, as a whole, have been thriving in spite of intensifying competition. So, in other words, being one of the 250 artists featured is considered “kind of” a big deal.
Dane Snyder (Golden Axe Tattoo) from London, Ontario has been tattooing for 11 years, and was ready to share the journey from apprentice to parlor owner.
How did you start out and when did you first realized you wanted to do this?
Dane: I’ve been tattooing 11 years, and when I first wanted to tattoo, I was in art school and then I got a job at a tattoo shop just doing counter help kind of stuff and I never went back to school and eventually learned how to tattoo.
What’s the hardest and the most rewarding part of your job?
Dane: Most rewarding is being able to work my own hours and do what I want to do every day. Most challenging is that there’s a lot of work put in, a lot of stress, and a lot of your time.
And what are you working towards now?
Sophie Fiset was the next artist to join us, tattooing professionally for 9 years and is soon to have her passion for body-art lead her all the way to London, UK.
How did you realize you wanted to make a career out of this?
Sophie: I was always obsessed with tattoos as a child, and once I turned 18 years old I got my first tattoo and asked for an apprenticeship, which I got.
Where do you want to go from here?
Sophie: I’m moving to London to learn more and I just want to travel and see the world and tattoo around the world. I’ve done a few conventions around the world now and go where I want to go.
Miguel Lepage from Saving Grace, out of Notre-Dame de Grace, Canada was our last stop, and he filled in all the blanks for us regarding the development of a professionally tattoo artist (which he’s been now for 6 years.)
So how did you start out when you realized you wanted to do this for life?
Miguel: Like a lot of artists; like everyone starts tattooing in their basement and you get a little bit better and you ask for an apprenticeship and get better until you finish it. That’s how it all started.
What made you persist with this?
Miguel: I’ve always drawn since I was a child, in class, even if it wasn’t for tattoos, just a painting or sculpture, I was always very into the arts. I knew I needed a job that would have to do with art in general, but I didn’t know it would be tattoos. I turned 18 and got into metal music, made friends in a shop back home and got tattooed there. I brought my drawings in and they told me which ones sucked and which ones were, well back then, “okay” and I started working on them and now I’m here today. The tattoo world just found me and since then I haven’t stopped.
And now that you’re here, where do you want to take this?
Miguel: I know that I want to go to Europe and travel with that, and being self-employed, it’s so easy to travel. I think that’s what I want to do in the next couple years, just travel with tattooing. Even if it’s not much, just a place I’ve never been…
What is the best and worst part of your job?
Miguel: Well we’re going to start with the good stuff; (what’s) rewarding is making people happy and giving them your best work. And when that happens he tells his friends and comes to get some. That’s how you get your business rolling, happy people is what you need. At the same time, it’s dealing with people who don’t know about tattoos, you need to ask questions. Sometimes they do but sometimes they’re uncertain. Like coming to me with a drawing that’s not exactly what they want, so the harder part about my job is getting exactly what they want, yet it’s rewarding when you do.