interview with Michael Cloutier | The Arts corporation | 01/11/2018

Hello Michael Cloutier! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers.

 Q: Many people think that having good drawing skills are pretty much enough for a start in this business. I bet learning the process if tattooing is a lot more difficult. Was it hard for you to learn? Did you have any mentor?
A: Well, actually, I ended up being a tattoo artist by a random choice! Before being in this field, I was a photographer and an art director which ended up being very useful to gain knowledge in my process of becoming a tattoo artist. I’ve mostly worked as a freelancer Art director for brand-building agencies. After a couple years, I became more interested in the tattoo industry. It’s something I always liked, and once I started, I fell in love with it right away. Since I had already studied in art for few years, I already knew the basics of drawing and perspective etc. As a matter of fact, once you know that, if you want to become a tattoo artist, you have to learn about the hygiene, cross contamination, the blood born pathogen, everything related to the health care! And after that, it’s only learning a new tool to put your art together! I surely needed some time to be able to put what I had in mind as a drawing into the skin of people. Each medium is different and as to be treated differently.

If I had any mentor!? He wouldn’t say that he was my mentor he’s too humble for that haha! But Luka Lajoie gave me my first chance in the business. I am very inspired by his passion towards his art and his work ethic which got him very talented. He made me realize what kind of artist I wanted to be and always was open to every question I had. So in a certain way, he was kind of a « mentor » for me.

Q: What type of art is your favorite? Do you have any favorite artists you look up to?
A: I don’t have any favorite type of art, I like all the facets of it! It can be music, photography, painting, graffiti, movies etc. But of course, there some artists that I look up to! In my beginning I was influenced by the wave of European artists with their graphic style and illustration that were completely unique from the stuff I was used to see. There are some specific artists in the industry that I totally admire. I would say Ad Pancho and Timur Lysenko who created their own signature style which is totally recognizable and unique! These people made me realize that I wanted to follow my own path to bring my personal vibe to my work. Besides that, I’d say that I get influenced by everybody I meet in one way or another.

Q: You have very interesting style. I love the mix of black, gray and red ink, it's almost like a "signature" technique you have, amazing! How much experimenting is important when it comes to artistic progress?
A: Thank you! Well I think that there will never be enough experimenting. Experimenting and trying new stuff are the basics to bring your art to a next level and never stop learning. Personally, every 3 months I want to start all over again and want to try new stuff and change everything. I think that’s what motivates me to put everything I have in my work and never stop learning. The day that I will be in a comfort zone... cruising and doing the same thing over again, will probably be the day that I have to try something new ;)

Q: Tattoo realism is probably one of the most popular tattoo styles nowadays. Artists take it as challenge to work this style some fail, some master it and some are adding their own unique vibe into it, including you. Beautiful bright colors and awesome details in each design. How would you call your style?
A: Thank you again! Well, I don’t really have a specific style. Some people describe my style as Trash Polka which was born in Germany by Buena Vista tattoo. Trash Polka had an influence on me but I’ve been influence by a lot of different artists and different styles as well. I’m mixing a bit of all, to create my own unique style. I guess I’m just trying to be myself.

Q: Portrait tattoos are some of the most remarkable designs in your portfolio. Great expression in each of them, I bet it's a time consuming to do someone's face in the most realistic way possible. Right? What are the most tricky parts of doing a portrait tattoo?
A: Well thanks again! Indeed! Doing portrait is time consuming! Every light, every details, nose, beard, eyes, lips, perspective etc. As to be on point! In the opposite way you may end up with a portrait that is denatured. For me the tricky part in doing a portrait is trying to simplify as much as possible without loosing the essence of the portrait and without removing important details, while keeping as much contrast. Let’s be honest, everything in a tattoo has to be time consuming! You have to put the same effort in a background than in a portrait or lining!

Q: Do you have any favorite person you would love to put on someone's skin?
A: I don’t have any dream piece or any person that I would want to put on someone’s skin but I’m a fan of horror movies so anything related to that would be like a
dream to me.

Q: Keeping a busy schedule can be hard at times, also traveling around the world for events like tattoo conventions. But I bet there's always something to learn from all those experiences. Would you agree? What aspect of being a full time pro you cherish the most?
A: For sure, at the beginning when you start to have a busy schedule, you make tons of errors like overbooking yourself haha! Living in a life when you can travel for work and have a busy schedule, you learn how to manage everything and make your life more organized. Each time I travel, I learn tons of things on how to manage my stuff, things related to tattoos, plus I get to meet incredible people and artists that made me reconsider everything about myself, like what I do and how I do it! I think that’s one of the things I cherish the most, being able to exchange with everybody so easily even if there’s a different culture behind the person just because of the field of tattooing. I’m constantly growing up with all of it!

- You can continue by sharing some of the best memories from your travels or tattoo conventions.
I would say that a year ago I had the chance to travel to Germany in Zwickau for a tattoo convention hosted By Randy Englehard and his wife Janine! It was one of the most exciting, intimidating and growing weekend I had in a while. In fact, that weekend I’ve met few of my biggest influencers in the tattoo industry, and I’ve been able to see so much work that was just... Unbelievable! That made me come back home with the feeling of wanting to work so much more and to push myself way further then I was! The biggest things in this weekend that slap me in the face, was how welcoming the people were. Being able to exchange also with those people like if they were everyday friends was just wonderful and so nice!

Q: How much your clients inspire you to grow even more artistically as an artist?
A: A lot! I feel truly blessed for having the opportunity to be in contact with new people everyday and having the chance to get to know them on a deeper level as they sometimes share very personal memories with me. I want to add to this that I get to travel and meet people from all over the world which is itself amazing. They all help me or inspire me in a certain way to grow in my work or as a person. I have no words for this, it’s just priceless!

Q: As an artist who has a specific style, not trying to copy anything out there, completely dedicated and truly involved in this business, what advice would you give to those who are willing to try becoming a pro artist?
A: Dedicate yourself to it! Draw, draw, draw, draw, and draw again! Try some new stuff, listen to different things! Painting seminar, Tattoo seminar, Art history, everything that can inspire you. Don’t try to skip some steps to go forward, each step is important! Put your mind into it and never stop learning, put all the effort you have to it. Don’t try to be a copy of the ones you like but get inspired by them and be yourself. Find your own way threw it and the most important part... Enjoy it!! It’s one of the most unique and most beautiful job (if I can call that a job) you can have!

Oh and yeah, love a lot! They are awesome and so helpful, they bring peace and calm moment home when you have to much to do, I love cats.

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Mr.Michael Cloutier, Thank you so much for the interview,
Kind Regards,
Iva Green