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TRENDER: Tattoo Artist Mike Boissoneault

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


More pain and blood: Tattoo artist Mike Boissoneault discusses the ups and downs of inking here in Rhode Island, including how many times he's had to do the "Hope" anchor. Photo: Reverend Vegas.

Which Rhode Islanders are emerging in art, fashion, food and style?  They're Trenders, and GoLocalProv offers a chance to learn about the people you most want to know on the scene.  Today, meet Mike Boissoneault, a tattoo artist at Providence's Black Lotus Tattoo Studios. In addition to inking and managing Black Lotus, Boissoneault also creates works in acrylic that are distributed to art shops internationally.

When did you first become interested in tattoos?

I have always been so interested in art.  I started drawing sample tattoos on my buddies when we were younger.  I had to be pretty resourceful to get materials that could make tattoos such as tooth brushes and the ink from ball point pens that I would draw on them with a sewing needle.  I actually drew the punk band Bad Religion's emblem on my friend's forearm and he got kicked out of his Catholic high school because of it. Whoops!

What brought you to work at Black Lotus Tattoo Studios?

I became interested in Black Lotus Tattoo Studio's work when I came across their website as a tattoo artist in Florida.  I have always been a huge fan of Black Lotus artists Joe Romeiro and Collin Kasyan's tattoo work because their style is so distinctive and recognizable.  That is rare for a tattoo artist because many feel the need to re-invent themselves whenever certain trends come and go. Joe and Collin have always stayed true to what they feel is quality art, and I value that dedication in my own work as well. 

In what ways do you think tattoos are distinctive from other forms of art?

More pain and blood!  Tattooing is so different from other art forms because of the surface you are working on.  Artists have to work with and understand the canvas of the human skin. For example, an artist has to work around places like elbows and know if areas are more prone to swelling because that will affect the final product. The way the tattoo artist understands how spacing works is distinctive too.  Many people want a great amount of detail into a small amount of space. However, forcing detail in a small space normally won't look good.  Cluttered tattoos are definitely something every artist should avoid.  Another interesting dynamic in tattooing is that there has to be a sense of understanding between the tattoo artist and the customer.  It is best if the artist has greater creative control because they know what particulars have to be taken into account for a tattoo to look best.  Yet, at the same time, the tattoo is going to be on the customer's body, so their opinion is very important for the work as well.

What is the most rewarding thing about working in Rhode Island?

I have always found the small-town mentality so appealing.  Everybody seems to know everybody, so if you work hard to make quality tattoos people will hear about you.  World of mouth is such a powerful way to be marketed here. I have always noticed that people here are fascinated by art.  Art students from RISD, Brown students, and so many other Rhode Islanders appreciate the dedication and creativity that goes into our art.  Also, the sun in Rhode Island is not too brutal.  This is great for a tattoo artist because too much sun can drain the color from tattoos.

What is the most frustrating thing about working in Rhode Island?

One thing that drives me a little crazy about working in Rhode Island is the amount of times I have had to tattoo the Rhode Island Hope Anchor. It has to be at least 50 times. That can definitely get to you after a while.

What is your favorite design to tattoo?

I don't necessarily have a favorite design to tattoo, but I love to tattoo anything that is big and colorful.  I enjoy anything that gives me freedom to express my creativity and what I feel is appropriate to make in that moment.  Some artists feel comfortable in staying in their specific genres, whether that be traditional Japanese or Bio-Mechanical for example.  I feel most comfortable in not being confined to a particular genre and keeping things interesting by smoothly incorporating different elements into my work. 

To see more of Boissoneault's work, go to Black Lotus's website, here.

Photograph: http://www.reverend-vegas.com" target="_blank">Reverend Vegas


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