By Rachneet Randhawa, November 10 2021—
The annual Calgary Tattoo and Arts Festival 2021 is the biggest show of its kind in Canada and returned this year from Oct. 15 to Oct. 17. Over 200 of the best local artists came together to showcase their work alongside contests, retail exhibits and tattooing sessions all weekend long. This year we’ve done a countdown to our top artists and best tattoo shops in Calgary.
The Gauntlet sat down for an interview with a handful of ink masters, one of whom was Bri Lynn. At the time of this interview, Lynn was working at Wonderland Micropigment, but is now an artist at Fox and the Machine in Inglewood.
As a relatively new artist, Lynn has been practicing this trade for four years now and got her start after her postsecondary training at the Alberta University of the Arts in which she secured her first apprenticeship at this tattoo convention. Lynn’s definition of a tattoo is not something that doesn’t necessarily has to have a symbolic meaning.
“Tattoos are the artwork that we decorate ourselves with to make ourselves feel more wonderful, more beautiful,” she says. “You know, they say your body is a temple — might as well decorate the walls.”
She goes on to say tattoos make you feel better as a person, in her opinion.
“They make you feel more comfortable in your skin. That’s the main point of them, is to make you feel good about you.”
The biggest challenge she’s faced thus far as a tattoo artist is being taken seriously. The industry itself is still being popularized as a legitimate career choice and it’s mostly a man’s world too.
“Being a female in general in the industry is really hard to be taken seriously,” says Lynn. “It’s a very male-dominated industry as it is, and so that’s why we have an all-female shop. [Wonderland Micropigment] is an all-women shop, we just have ladies here to really support and empower each other and create those safe spaces for each other.”
As for how COVID impacted the business in an industry that is so diligent with cleanliness and sanitation, they ensured comfortability by putting safety first. For those that are indecisive about committing to getting permanently inked, Lynn’s advice is to gravitate towards the stuff you’re very fond of.
“Certain kinds of animals, florals, different things that make you happy. They don’t always have to have meaning specifically, it just needs to make you happy,” she says. “And talk to your artists [and] discuss the ideas with them. You can come together and make a wonderful idea and get the design that you want.”
As for the actual brainstorming of the designs as an artist, there is no method to the madness as Lynn mentioned that she takes references from many photos that potential customers send to her and builds ideas off of that, cross-referencing them on Pinterest boards for more inspiration.
“Creativity is insanity at the best times,” says Lynn.
As for how large-scale conventions like this shape the culture of the city, Lynn claimed it’s an incredible opportunity for other artists to expand their network and become better artists. Also, she recommends that visitors in attendance should take advantage and go to festivals like this especially if they’re in the market for a new tattoo.
“You get to learn about different kinds of cultures and the way tattoos influence them. You get different people’s experiences, you get to experience different kinds of artwork. It’s just an overall, very eye-opening experience.”
Her parting advice was to not be too scared of getting a tattoo because it’s not going to be as bad as you think.
“If you haven’t gotten a tattoo before, talk to your artists beforehand,” she says. “If you’re unsure, they’ll help you with anything and everything. They love to answer questions. And just be really creative with your ideas. Artists love doing crazy stuff. So if you can think of something really outside of the box, take it to somebody. I’m sure they’d love to do it.”
Wonderland Micropigment Cosmetic Clinic is accepting new clients and specializing in other niche services like eyebrow tattooing. Be sure to check out their website and socials to learn more. Information about Bri Lynn or Fox and the Machine can be found online.