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Angie Doucet said she’s happy to find a job where she can sustain a living and still express her artistic side.
WINDSOR, N.S. — Faces Friday is our online feature highlighting members of our community: their strength, challenges and humanity.
Meet Angie Doucet, who owns Chroma Tattoos on Gerrish Street in downtown Windsor. The Falmouth resident moved to the area a couple of years ago to get her own tattoo shop up an running.
Doucet has always been drawn to art and creative pursuits, and tattooing has become a way for her to express herself. She enjoys the intimate bond that’s developed between artist and client during the process.
“This is my seventh year tattooing; I’ve been an artist my whole life, but seven years at this. I used to sell paintings on eBay, like little folk art paintings. Did that for years and went out west where I met Amber Thorpe, who owns Adept Tattoos in Halifax, and she gave me my first tattoo and we ended up moving back here at the same time and she opened Adept and introduced me to the tattooing side of things. I did a lot of different jobs over the years, but I always knew I wanted to be an artist. Every time I would do something, I always ended up coming back to art. Amber just showed me a whole different way to do art and make a living. I grew up in a small town and there was only one tattoo shop, so I ended up waiting until I moved out west to Calgary and I got a couple of blue roses and some ladybugs on my shoulder and that was for my little sister who passed away. It was kind of a memorial piece. It was about three or four hours and for your first tattoo, that’s pretty significant, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected.”
“It was an emotional thing for me, and like a lot of my clients who come in for memorial pieces, it's kind of a healing, cathartic sort of thing. When you get to the point where it really hurts, you think about that person, who went through something way worse than what you’re going through, and it just helps you get through it. It’s kind of healing. It’s a way to have the person with you. Like, I have little ladybugs in my tattoo, and my little sister loved ladybugs, so it’s almost like a connection through ink.”
“Ideally it starts with an apprenticeship, usually around two years. It’s different for everybody though, some just pick up a machine and it doesn’t turn out very well. For me, I was in a very weird situation. I had drawn my whole life, painted. Usually for the first part, you’re doing all of the grunt work, taking care of the shop, cleaning, talking to clients, answering the phone. But you’re also drawing and learning how to draw and I kind of already had that part down, so my apprenticeship was sort of fast-tracked in that sense. I actually ended up managing before apprenticing, so I learned how the business worked behind the scenes. Drawing a tattoo is very different than just drawing normally, the lines have to be a certain width apart from other lines to hold up, so you learn to do that. When it comes time to actually use your machines, what we ended up doing was actually practicing on grapefruits or oranges, but that doesn’t really teach you how to tattoo well, but it does build the muscles in your hands.”
“Then you find a few really brave friends, most of them already have tattoos, and that was my situation and I did a couple of little Japanese characters on a friend of mine’s back. It was terrifying. That was my first tattoo I ever did. My second and third were just on other people in the industry. I don’t remember what the Japanese characters meant. Hope? Love? Honestly I can’t remember what it was. Your first year you’re doing a bunch of little pieces, symbols, lettering, mostly plain black until you become adept at that and then build up. You just let people know you’re starting out and there’s usually a bit of a discount at first and you go from there. You’d think it would be hard to find people that would let you do a tattoo without experience, but it’s actually kind of easy, especially if they’re getting a deal.”
“I’m really private and quiet, so I like working alone. But this job has helped me in a lot of ways because people, when they’re in pain, they open up. You get to know the people really well, some even become really good friends. I was lucky that when I came to Windsor, I already had a clientele. Without that, it would have been hard to start up, but I had that coming in. Tattooing is very much so a word of mouth thing. (My clients) are like walking art galleries really.”