At Bodkin Tattoo, the main phrase is “old-school.” From the moment you enter the Mile-End shop, you’ll notice copious amounts of antique and vintage décor, ranging from Victorian sofas to photographs. Its owner, Dominique Bodkin, takes great pleasure in design and decorating, restoring and transforming old objects with new-found delight.
Her love of vintage only begins there, and it has certainly shaped her tattooing. The parlour specializes in traditional and old-school tattoos, as indicated by an impressive, framed collection of Sailor Jerry designs, next to turn-of-the-century portraits of full-bodied tattooed figures. Sipping coffee from a floral china teacup, she speaks of tattoo language and history with passion, from the lore of Russian criminal tattoos to traditional sailor emblems and cites circus culture as a great inspiration; tattooing, she explains, has a history of being associated with the outcasts and misfits. It has always been a subculture.
But she’s happy to see that movement changing as the word “tattoo” comes to be associated with beautiful artwork, rather than being a pejorative term. Montreal’s own fluctuating history is a large source of inspiration for her, and today it houses so many talented tattoo artists, both male and female, with diverse styles. She’s particularly influenced by the tattooers that surround her everyday like David Choquette, Vincent Brun, Karl Wojciechowski and Nicholas Durand. She loves their vision in drawing as well as in tattooing.
For Dominique, going into tattooing as a career may have been pre-destined: it was a tradition handed down through her family. But she carefully weighed out the decision, making sure it was truly her own desire and not simply following the family craft. Ultimately, it was her own passion.