Erica Cyr Tattooist

Tattooist Spotlight is a blog series featuring the talents of tattoo artists all over the US and world. For the next three weeks my second guest, Erica Cyr (check out her Instagram: ericacyrtattoos) hailing from Ascending Koi Tattoo and Apparel in Calgary will answer questions asked by yours truly and you–the readers. 

But FIRST, let’s learn a little about Erica’s background. :)

Erica has been an artist and art lover since she was a child that roamed Montreal museums with her mother. As a junior artist, Erica is honing her artistry influenced by her love of illustrative art, low-brow art, etchings, ink, and watercolour. Inspired by fine art, film and music, she feels privileged to work with so many creative talents with her fellow tattooists. Albert Einstein’s words, “Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts”, illustrates Erica’s blessing of her love of art actualized in creative talent with a passion to share that with others. source

Ascending Koi’s social media manager connected with me through Twitter of all places! I was thrilled to have been connected with Erica. Though I don’t know her personally, she is a delight to communicate with and her talent is evident in her collection of skin art. I’m honored and thrilled to share her answers to my list of questions.

1) Every great tattooist is an artist first. What do you do when you have a creative block and need inspiration?

I find inspiration in many mediums. Outside of just art and tattoo, film and music inspire me as well. I love working with such talented people in the shop because it pushes me to try new things. Taking art classes outside of work help too. I find it easy to get stuck in routine, in terms of how I draw or approach a new piece so classes really help break that mold for me because they give me knew ways of understanding and approaching any work I do. Though, I get most of my inspiration from other tattoos and tattoo artists. I am amazed everyday by the kinds of art that can be put in the skin, so many people are breaking the bounds of what seems possible for a tattoo and I think that is so exciting. 

2) Have you always wanted to be a tattooist?

I just wanted to be an artist. I’ve always thought tattoos were beautiful and knew I would have them but never understood how someone went about becoming a tattoo artist. Then when I was 18, I had an opportunity to try it out, learning about it for a couple of days under an artist in Montreal. So I did, fell in love with it, came back to Calgary and decided I wasn’t going back to university and that I would look for an apprenticeship. After months of looking, I ended up at Ascending Koi where I still am now 2 and a half years later! 

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I just need to say that I don’t think every tattoo needs to have a spiritual or, for lack of a better word, meaningful explanation. If you can appreciate a piece of art so much that you would like to wear it, that is just as meaningful to me.


3) The industry has been dominated by men. Even though you are successful and talented, you’ve probably gotten pushback from people because of your gender alone. Do you still face pushback? How do you deal with it? What advice can you offer women who want to pursue tattooing as a career?

There are more men in the industry but to be honest, and this has only been my experience so far, I haven’t found many obstacles because I am a woman. I think any pressures I felt, I put on myself, feeling I had to prove myself because I’m a woman and because I’m the youngest in my shop and one of the least experienced. But all the guys I work with are really supportive and have been huge influences on me. To me it feels like nowadays the art is the most important part. It’s so cool to see so many talented women tattooing and creating such amazing works of art. I think if you want to pursue tattooing you have to be really driven and passionate and take everything as a learning opportunity because there is so much to learn. I don’t think you ever stop learning, it’s just so complex. I think that’s how you earn the respect of your peers, no matter what gender you are!  And also I have had many women and men who are excited to find out they’re working with a female tattoo artist because it still isn’t as common! So I think the industry has changed quite a bit.

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4) Some people get ink because it is the trendy thing to do. But there are a lot of people out there who get ink for spiritual, personal and/or meaningful reasons. Considering how intimate the tattooing process is, how did it make you feel to design the work and etch it into their skin? 

I have one client, who initially was booked with one of the other guys in the shop,  that I was definitely meant to work with.  She was booked with someone else accidentally on his day off and I happened to be free for consultation. I was really excited right away by what she wanted to get and we got along really well and its been a joy to work with her on this piece! Not that crazy but I don’t believe it was a coincidence!

I just need to say that I don’t think every tattoo needs to have a spiritual or, for lack of a better word, meaningful explanation. If you can appreciate a piece of art so much that you would like to wear it, that is just as meaningful to me. But yes, tattoos are a really good way of commemorating someone special to you or something meaningful. I have done quite a few memorial tattoos. I find it very touching that clients trust in me to do something that is so important to them and holds so much meaning. It’s beautiful that tattoos can commemorate a person or moment in time that you can literally carry it for the rest of your life. 

5) My main character in the DEATHMARK Series tattoos unwitting people for grim reapers. She doesn’t want to continue with this job after she has to mark her best human friend for a reaper. DEATHMARK is an allegory, saying “Stand up for what you believe in even if it means starting a revolution to be heard.” Tell me about something that means a lot to you with regard to your industry? What needs to be heard from tattoo artists?

It’s important to me for clients to know that allowing your artists to have even a bit of artistic freedom can make a huge difference. It’s important to do your research to see which artist meshes with you and what you are imagining. Tattoo artists, for the most part, were artists before they ever picked up a tattoo machine. There are many aspects to my pieces, the smallest details, that I put so much thought into that may never be noticed by anyone but me and my client. 

Hey Readers! Want to know Erica’s favorite part of her job? Want to find her in 2014? Stayed tuned a week from today when I will post five more questions and Jessica’s answers.

And don’t forget to ask Erica your questions about tattoos and the industry in the comments of this post! I will post your questions and Erica’s answers here in two weeks. (Remember to keep questions polite and relevant)

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