The Art Form
I’ve always been fascinated with tattoos, no matter the message or artistic merit, whether it’s multi coloured or monochrome. The truth is I have always wanted one too, but I am afraid. It’s not the pain that has me holding back, in fact I have a fairly high pain threshold. Neither is it the risk of disease, although I must admit it crosses my mind, but there are shops that are known to be sketchy and those known to be very clean so it’s not hard to manage that risk. No, it’s the perfectionist’s curse: I’m afraid that sometime after having my idea put to flesh I will somehow find it wanting, less perfect and justified in staining my otherwise acceptable hide. Thankfully though, there are many that are far more adventurous and accepting of life’s little quirks than I am because tattooing currently enjoys a level of popularity that I think has never been better.
In ancient times tattoos were a cultural symbol of manhood and, at times, could even denote warrior or class status. In North American culture, it used to be that the criminal element or those that were rebelling in some way to the current norms of society wore tattoos. But now we are as likely to find a quality tat on a good little church girl as we are a weekend biker… well, maybe not quite as likely but certainly more so now than say 20 years ago.
As you will guess by this site, I am a visual-based person, so this rise in popularity of tattoos is great in my opinion! I love that there is another emerging canvas for the gifted artists that choose this as their medium of choice. A short while ago I was very lucky to have been invited to attend a tattooing session with my camera, it could not have been a more positive and impressive experience. Positive because my hosts, the artist and the human pallet, could not have been more gracious and impressive because of the ever-present skill, care, patience, and cleanliness. Everything in the shop, from the art collection to the tools of his trade, had a place and was immaculately kept. Honestly, I have been in too many community clinics in my own city that could learn a thing or two about ambiance and cleanliness from Maya Tattoo.
Maya Tattoo in Winnipeg, MB is a dedicated tattoo parlour that is filled with a balanced blend of impressive Mexican, gothic, and macabre artworks. The shop is quite bright and cleverly laid out so not to seem cluttered or gaudy.
The Artist & His Canvas
Fidel Romero is a Mexican born self-taught artist of many talents, actually it clearly runs in the family as his daughter is his partner and his brother a contributor to many pieces that adorn the shop.
Erin MacMillan, a lady I work with, already had a number of tattoos and one day while we were talking about them she mentioned that she was thinking about getting another that saluted her dog, a rescued brindle greyhound. I thought it was going to be a portrait of sorts, but instead it was an almost modern art deco-stylized graphic of a profiled greyhound doing their typical ‘waking up stretch’.
The design was very creative, and as soon as I saw it I offered to shoot the event if she and Fidel were interested. These are the results of my first visit to Maya, and I hope there will be other opportunities as well.
The Work Begins
Erin conceived and drew the tattoo she wanted and brought in a draft version for her and Fidel to apply the finishing touches to. In this case the final size, colours and placement were agreed upon before Fidel would produce a stencil from Erin’s drawing.
The prep work all done, Fidel starts with the outline using a very fine machine with one needle, later when filling, he will use a machine that has multiple needles that are lined up close together. I thought that the fill would hurt the most, but according to Erin it was the outline that hurt once it got near the back of her knee. The shot of her at the top wincing was just when it was at the highest point on the back of her calf...
It was an awesome experience for me and I want to thank both Erin and Fidel for allowing me to take these pictures.
878 Ellice Ave,
Winnipeg, MB R3G 0C6