Itís hard to imagine another art formís public perception changing as rapidly as tattooingís has in the last decade or so.
With a wave of reality shows centred around the craft launching in the mid-2000s, and more and more celebrities proudly showing off their custom ink on red carpets and in magazine spreads around the world, tattooing has finally gone mainstream.
And as the owner of Whistlerís longest-running tattoo shop, Black Ohm Tattoos in Function Junction, Robin Dutcher has had her finger on the pulse of the resortís ink aficionados for more than 15 years.
I caught up with the talented artist to talk about the resortís passion for ink, the evolving public perception of the art form, and the growing influence of female tattoo artists in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
What kind of tattoos are the most common in Whistler?
The biggest one is a winter-based theme, so snow or landscapes. Nature-based themes are big, too, then there are the bonding tattoos for friends who want to remember their time in Whistler.
Youíre a custom shop that caters to a diverse, often international clientele. But are there tattoos that you wonít do?
If itís not timeless imagery or kind of silly, I wonít do it. If theyíre racist or derogatory, I wonít do it either. Then depending on the person, I wonít do a tattoo based on placement. With some people , I wonít tattoo their hands or neck, so I try to look out for people.
If I donít feel comfortable doing it, then I just say no.
How have you seen the perception of tattoos change since you set up shop? Do you think thereís still a stigma attached to it?
People are definitely making choices as to whether they want their tattoo to be shown or not; I find thatís definitely on the forefront of everybodyís tattoo nowadays. People go from big to small to medium, thereís no formula to what everyone is getting, itís all across the board.
With tattooing essentially a part of the mainstream culture nowadays, do you think people have a greater appreciation of tattoos as an art form, or have you seen it become watered down?
I think thereís a greater appreciation of the art form being that more people are seeing that it is actually art rather than a sticker you get when youíre drunk. As more actual artists are coming into the industry and plying their trade and showing what their style is, itís obvious that itís art. As the population sees more of this art out there, theyíre getting a bigger and better picture of what tattooing actually is, which is a medium that artists are creating with using humans as a canvass.
Sonja Prevost and yourself ran the shop at a time when it would have been a rarity to have a female-owned studio. Do you feel like women are starting to have more influence in the industry?
When I started in the mid-Ď90s, (Prevost and I) were maybe two of four or five females working in the Vancouver area, and now there are way more. Even internationally, there are many more doing great things. The male tattoo artists in my generation that learned around the same time as me are all totally fine with females, we were all learning art from each other, itís the older generations that may have seen us as competition and werenít accepting of a female doing a manís job.
Visit www.blackohmtattoogallery.com for more information or to book a consultation.
No business like ski business
The Whistler Museum hosts a discussion on the past, present and future of the ski industry with Peter Alder, Roger McCarthy and Don Murray on Wednesday (Jan. 15) at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $7, or $5 for museum members.
Filipino pop stars Joey Albert and Ray An Fuentes
Enjoy an evening of pop music from Filipino singers Joey Albert and Ray An Fuentes at Millennium Place on Saturday (Jan. 18) at 8 p.m. Albert has performed on stages across the globe, from North America to Southeast Asia, and is regarded for her engaging and lively stage show.
Tickets are $26.50 for general admission, $22.50 for Whistler Arts Council members, $24.50 for seniors and students and $12.50 for kids 12 and under, available at artswhistler.tix.com.
Get WAC-Y with crafts
Keep your kids happy and productive on their next P.D. days with craft-making projects led by Orkidz Art Studioís Layna Mawson.
The workshop is open to kids ages six to 12, and runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday (Jan. 20) and Feb. 24 at Millennium Place.
Registration is $50. Call 604-935-8410 for more details.