Day 219 - Ian (1st person I approached)
August 07, 2014 - Ian was enjoying some Lemon Tiramisu when I sat myself across from him and asked him to chat. He said yes right away. I generally tell people when I interrupt them, to please continue eating whatever it is they have. Ian however, stopped while we chatted.
Ian was born in Ottawa, Ontario. He has one sister who is two years younger.
“I did all of my schooling there. I was a fat kid growing up. I was the one that the other kids would say needed a bra, and I got teased a lot. That’s what kids do. But I always stuck-up for the other kids when the bullies went after them. I stood my ground,” said Ian. He got his first tattoo at age sixteen.
“It was this one here,” he says, showing his right shoulder. His mother was not happy.
“I did okay at school, but I didn’t graduate. I got kicked out in Grade thirteen.” When I mention that most people I’ve spoken with who got kicked out only made it to Grade nine or ten, Ian raises his brow.
“Well, I certainly didn’t have the required marks to graduate at the end of Grade twelve. I pretended to go school for a couple of weeks in Grade thirteen and basically hung around doing my own thing. When I showed up for school, the school Vice Principal told me he didn’t think it was worth my time coming back. So I didn’t,” he says.
“My father was a scientist working for the government. We did chores to get an allowance and if I didn’t do my chores, I didn’t get any money. I had a paper route to make some extra money. I learned the value of working for the things I wanted at a young age,” said Ian. After leaving school he had a few different jobs.
“I worked as a bouncer at a nightclub in Ottawa. The bars closed at 11:00pm in Ottawa and in Quebec, they closed at 3:00am, so I started working at a bar in Quebec,” he said. At another job working in a restaurant, Ian went from dishwasher to line cook.
“The Chef would pick one person to send to school every year to train. The school was well known in Algonquin and I really wanted to get into the program. I didn’t make the pick though,” he said.
“A group of my friends were making a move to BC (British Columbia) and I thought ‘why not.’ Everyone was leaving Ottawa and I didn’t want to stay there. So I headed west.”
After some time in Vancouver, Ian took a big leap and moved to Japan and taught English for four years.
“At first it was difficult because I didn’t speak any Japanese, but I settled in okay,” he said. Ian had watched a documentary involving an artist that did sketches.
“I used to love drawing when I was growing up, and hadn’t done it for a while. I went out and bought a sketch pad and some pencils, and started to draw. I built up a collection of drawings and eventually sent them to a friend of mine who was a tattoo artist. I knew he would give me an honest critique,” said Ian. His friend offered Ian an apprenticeship at the tattoo shop he owned in Prince George.
“That’s when I came back to Canada,” said Ian. While in Prince George, Ian started to get interested in rock climbing.
“My friend and mentor who owned the tattoo shop would take me out climbing. I learned how to climb with him. Now I spend at least forty days in the summer rock climbing and whenever I can, I’m outside climbing. I train throughout the year indoors,” he said.
The tattooing apprenticeship lasted for about two and a half years.
“After you’ve done your apprenticeship, you really spend the next ten years or so perfecting your style,” said Ian. Most tattoo artists I know have tattooed themselves when learning. Ian is no exception.
“I did a couple of small tattoos on my arms and then I did a piece across my stomach. I was so focussed on doing a good job, it hurt far less than I anticipated,” he said.
“It’s a good tattoo.” Ian and his friend moved to Vancouver and started working with renowned artist John 'The Dutchman' (*Fact Check - see links below).
“I worked there for a few years before leaving to open my own shop. My friend and mentor stayed there and then left to come and work with me,” he says, smiling. Ian has established a solid reputation for himself. He runs a very well respected and highly regarded tattoo shop here in Vancouver, called Three Point Tattoo.
“I’ve been doing this for about fifteen years now. I’ve got a great team. We’re really solid and everyone gets a long well. It’s a good shop.” (**Fact Check - see links below).
“I’m not sure if I’m a good tattoo artist who is a rock climber, or a solid rock climber who tattoos. I don’t think that puts any clients off when I say that,” says Ian, with a grin. Ian and his common-law wife have a one year old son.
“Becoming a father has been the best thing I’ve ever done. Without a doubt,” says Ian with a huge smile and clarity in his voice.
“It really is the best. Changed my life. I’m glad I waited because I don’t think I was ready before this. I wasn’t mature enough. I’m settled and have a great stable relationship, a good business and an amazing son.” Just as we were finishing our conversation, Ian got a call to go pick up his son from daycare. I apologized for taking his time away and him not being able to finish his sweet treat.
“That’s fine. It was fun talking with you. Don’t worry, I’ll eat it in the car.” #notastranger
*Fact Check - dutchman-tattoos.com
**Fact Check - threepointattoo.com