NEW GLASGOW - Tattooing is catching on – the biggest change in the scene over the last 30 years, says tattoo artist Mike LeBlanc, co-owner of New Glasgow’s newest parlour, That Tattoo Place.
“Tattooing has become trendy now,” said LeBlanc, over the sounds of a buzzing tattoo gun at 770 East River Rd.
LeBlanc and his fellow artist and co-owner Danny Hay have been benefiting from that popularity with steady business since their opening.
LeBlanc said he believes the stream of customers is the result of a local need for tattooing that stands out from communities more “saturated” with shops.
“There’s a huge change in the type of people we get, with 10 times more demand for tattoos than there was 30 years ago,” said LeBlanc.
That said, the uptick in demand brought about an increase in the number of practising tattoo artists, resulting in a “plateauing” of demand, commensurate with the greater number of artists, LeBlanc noted.
LeBlanc said he worked in Truro before, and at the time, there was only one tattoo shop.
“Then, I left to go out west, came back seven years later, and then there were five shops in Truro.”
Seeing that New Glasgow had more of an open market for tattoo artists than the already saturated market in Truro, LeBlanc and Hay decided to join forces and open The Tattoo Place in New Glasgow.
“I just moved back home from being out west, and wanted an area to settle,” said LeBlanc.
Both Hay and LeBlanc believe the strong local interest comes from their decision to open the parlour in a central location – on East River Road.
“We fought hard for a few weeks to get this spot, because of how central and busy it is,” said LeBlanc, as the lunchtime rush of traffic passed just outside the shop windows. He added that he believes business will further improve, once proper signage goes up.
“Danny has the clientele right now,” LeBlanc said as Hay worked in the background, giving a client some new ink. “I have to build mine up – but I have old clients gathering funds to see me. I’ll build mine up from there.”
Their clients are from all across Pictou County, LeBlanc noted, adding that he believes they are drawn to the Tattoo Place by the artistic versatility both he and Hay possess.
The styles they can do vary “from mild to wild,” said Hay. LeBlanc and Hay have almost 60 years of combined experience tattooing.
“We do anything, from traditional portraits, to Japanese, to tribal – whatever someone needs, we can do,” said LeBlanc.
LeBlanc said a great deal of his experience came from his travelling west, working with a variety of other artists, and attending conventions where he honed his art. He spent time in B.C., Alberta and Windsor, Ont., building a base of clients that spans the country – but since Pictou County is his original home, he decided to return to the East Coast, to be close to family and friends.
“If you want to market yourself in the industry, you need to get around quite a bit,” said LeBlanc. “You want to get to as many conventions as possible. We’re in it to make a living and having fun doing it.”
Today is the official grand opening of The Tattoo Place. Starting today, throughout the month of November, the business will be holding a fundraiser called Tape a Toonie.
During November, people are encouraged to bring a donation of non-perishable food item with a Toonie taped to it, to be entered into a draw for the chance to win a tattoo worth $500.