Noemie La Thug is a professional tattoo artist since the summer of 2016. Her personal path and experience in visual arts contributed to her rapid growth within the tattoo industry. First, she earned a college degree in plastic arts. At that time, she aimed at a painting career, but then she earned a bachelor’s degree in visual arts from Concordia University where she discovered a passion for screenprinting, which became her support of choice. After graduation, Noemie kept on with screenprinting by working a few years as a production assistant for a talented screenprinting artist, Jason Cantoro, and her agent Karine SK. With them, she learned a lot, whether it be on the technical side of the craft, or on the business management aspect. She then stopped her artistic activities to work toward a bachelor’s degree in graphic design in UQAM. That proved to be a very rewarding experience that convinced her to get back to her foundations and set her focus on drawing more than ever. After two years of studying, she left school and all her jobs and started working independently. Tattooing came shortly after and, since then, she never stopped. With her unique artistic background and a maturity that is palpable through her work, she is now a successful tattoo artist!
IBA CHECKOUT: NOEMIE LA THUG. from Plenty Humanwear on Vimeo.
*** INTERVIEW ***
How would you describe your style as a tattoo artist?
Linework, blackwork. The current style I guess.
Who influenced your style or had the most influence?
I love traditional style and blackwork. Those are the styles that inspire my work the most. In terms of images, I collect books about art history, I have an eternal admiration for antique drawings and paintings, especially Renaissance and gravures. Here are some of my personal favorite tattoo artists:
- Christian Lanouette (Sans Regret studio, Montreal), he’s probably the artist I follow the most;
- I love the weird, unconventional style of Fatality666 (Sans Regret studio, Montreal);
- For traditional style, Victor Vaclav is a heavy hitter you simply can’t overlook (Le Mausolée, Montreal);
- Sylvie Le Sylvie, now located in Vancouver, for motif and originality.
- I have a major, major crush on the work of Fvego_tattoo, an artist from Spain who is relatively unknown, and way underrated to my opinion.
- In the dark blackwork department, Ignaccio and Hanaroshinko are the bosses;
- New-York’s East River Tattoo studio is home to some of the most amazing artists, such as Duke Riley, his work blows me away, Rob Banks of America, and Jenna Bouma (Slowerblack), just to name a few;
- Sinon Lainsellar is also ridiculously dope.
I could easily name 47 more, but that’s it for now.
Who supports you with your projects?
David Brown (Wolfgang Social Club) is the first tattoo artist who accepted to be my mentor, teach me the basics and provide me with the proper material. Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am now! Also, my boyfriend, from the very beginning, helped me deal with anxiety and encouraged me to keep up. My parents, they are so proud that their girl makes a living out of her art. My friends, who lent me their skin when I was, well, not that much in control of my hand, I thank you all, and those who still set appointments with me, despite the long waiting list, the complexity of the booking process and the raise of prices, thank you even more! Finally, my bff Ludovic (Lucy_culture), exploration canevas #1, and biggest fan, haha!
Being a woman, do you have to face more challenges as a tattoo artist? If so, what are these challenges?
I think women are getting more acceptance in the industry. Women are not just taking their place, they are taking over, straight up! Because of their minuteness, meticulousness, finesse and sensitivity. It wasn’t like that a few years ago, I think it’s a quite recent change. As for me, I do not feel intimidated, diminished, nor overlooked whatsoever. Fortunately, my experience as a female tattoo artist has been very rewarding. It’s all smooth sailing so far. But I have a strong personality, I stand my ground, that must have helped! Haha!
Who was your first (brave) client?
I drew my first line on my own leg, kind of a passing rite. I have a shaky-hand drawing on my left calf, haha! Besides myself, the guinea pig for my first experience was a long-time friend, Marc Flynn. It took place in my living room at the Château Saint-Ambroise: without telling me, he had called a few friends to watch the whole thing. That’s how I ended up with 8 Snapchats and a bunch of agitated, half-drunk, dudes watching over my shoulder as I was making this tattoo of an all-dressed pizza. Talk about a stressful set-up! Not recommended! Haha!
What obstacles did you face as an apprentice?
Dealing with the stress. Knowing that what I did is permanent, and it’s not clean, or too deep, or plain messed-up. That’s the worst feeling ever! I spent so many sleepless nights thinking about the flaws in the tattoos I did. It’s not like messing a haircut. It won’t grow back. There is no second chance. However, my obsession for imperfection led me to notice and analyse my mistakes. I learn from them and that helps me to evolve, grow and improve quite fast. Besides the stress, I would say the skin is always some kind of jack-in-the-box. Every skin is different in its constitution, elasticity and texture and that has an impact on the production of the piece, it’s super unpredictable. As soon as my needle hit the skin, I know if it’s going to be an easy session or not. The body part, the required torsion, and even finding the right position to work are daily concerns. Handling the machine and lining came naturally to me.
Any funny anecdote you can share with us?
Nothing particularly funny comes to my mind… Well, there’s always the typical blood-pressure drop, but it’s nothing fascinating, haha! I created a professional work environment in terms of atmosphere and project selection. I’m not too wild production-wise… Sauf une fois au chalet.
You recently joined a new studio in Montreal, what inspires you in with this fresh start?
Yes! Minuit Dix studio regroups only female tattoo artists. I find it very inspiring to work with such talented women (Muriel de Mai, My dad was a paratrooper, Luci, etc). The move from my personal living room to a studio has been motivated by the need to learn, to share and exchange with other artists. I felt like I reached a plateau working alone and I am very excited about that change. I had a couple of offers from other studios in Montreal, but Minuit was really one of the best fit for me. The place is super bright, there are plants everywhere, the atmosphere is calm, peaceful and laid back, not intimidating at all. I’ve been here for almost a week now and I love the vibe. I’m so eager to see what’s next!
What are your medium and long-term objectives?
I still split my time between tattooing and freelance drawing. I’d like to keep on doing both if it’s possible. I’d also like to get back at painting and screenprinting, use my knowledge and integrate my style to my painting. I think something nice could come out of it. As for now, I don’t have the time to do it all, with all the management required by the bookings, the accounting, taking the messages and replying, and of course the time spent drawing, the tattoo production and meeting clients… On the long-term, I’d like to have my own studio for sure. I prefer to be my own boss and I’m good at managing myself. With the right partners, I think it would work well!