Exhibit looks at the art that goes into tattooing

John Dohe admires the photo of a man he once tattooed. The photo is on display as part of the INK exhibit at the guild in Charlottetown. Rebecca Moase photo
John Dohe admires the photo of a man he once tattooed. The photo is on display as part of the INK exhibit at the guild in Charlottetown. Rebecca Moase photo
By Rebecca Moase
Jan. 15, 2015
John Dohe looked at the photo of his unfinished work hanging on the wall at the Guild.
“I want to finish that piece so bad,” he told his girlfriend, Erin Gillespie.
He started the piece when he met her several years ago.
“Yeah, every time she got pregnant she was like, ‘I can’t get tattooed now.’ So it’s like every time she misses an appointment it’s like, ‘Are you pregnant?’” Dohe said.
Dohe has been a tattoo artist for almost 20 years. He works at Infinite Expressions in Charlottetown.
The photo was of a woman named Rebecca. It was one of 28 images featured in the INK Deeper than Skin exhibit set up at the Guild Jan. 7-31.
Dohe had done pieces of work on many of the subjects featured in INK.
The 28 images in the exhibit all appeared in two forms. Each image was photographed by Lorne Miller and then painted by Pamela Detlor.
The painting and photo were displayed with a card listing the name and a brief story about each subject.
“It became less about the photo expose and more about the stories,” Detlor said.
The idea for the exhibit started with Miller who was doing a photo expose on tattoos, Detlor said.
Miller approached Deltor about participating in the expose because of her tattoos at a concert venue called The Dunk.
“I have almost a full sleeve,” she said.
Detlor told Miller she was an artist and they teamed up, she said.
Tattoos have become more mainstream in most places over the past few decades, Detlor said.
When she got her tattoos 15-16 years ago she kept them hidden with long sleeves when going to work, she said.
“Now most places it’s so mainstream.”
When getting her tattoos she knew she would need other jobs, she said.
“It used to be just drug dealers and thugs and stuff (who got them).”
If you have a high-end job or work with older clientele you don’t want visible tattoos with expletives or of a violent nature, she said.
Detlor has worked in banking.
“Know your audience,” she said.
Tattoo artists have also noticed the change.
Dohe said tattoos have come a long way in the past 20 years.
“When I started (as a tattoo artist) you kept your tattoos hidden. Now it’s not about being hideable, you choose, get it on your hands.”
People want to be sympathetic to your needs during interviews so they don’t say anything, Dohe said.
“The job force in general has changed, I don’t know if that’s necessarily related to tattooing,” he said.
There are a lot of people looking for high-end jobs who didn’t think a tattoo would affect them, so job environments have to cater to that, Dohe said.
“You have invested a lot once you have that (tattoo). It’s kind of like the ugly baby thing. Nobody wants to say, ‘Oh, your baby is ugly’. It’s too late now.”
“People are so worried about offending people about anything and tattoos are a part of that,” he said.
Tattoos are one of the oldest forms of art, Deltor said.
“(Tattoos) are a great way to break the ice,” she said.
For some it’s a way of starting a conversation, Dohe said.
“It’s like a nice piece of music; you don’t have to justify why you like it before you enjoy it. You hear something and you like it,” he said.

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